Currently

How’s this for a random blog post? (Idea stolen from here).

Reading: A few things – The Gospel Centered Woman (I love this!), The Explosive Child (enough said), Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (The boys are loving this and it makes me soooo happy)

Searching for online: Christmas decorations (mostly on Pinterest). I unpacked my stuff this year and was underwhelmed. In reality, I think I’m going to have to pick up some stuff after the holidays on clearance so I don’t find myself in this spot again next year.

Eating: Poorly. I was great in September and October. I don’t know what happened. January is a good time to start this.

Watching: My favorite shows this fall has by far been The Good Wife (even over my beloved Parenthood) and Parks & Recreation. I really don’t think enough people are watching TGW. D and I love it and this season has not disappointed me a bit. And P&R just keeps getting better and better each season. I had no hope for that show when it started but I think it is amazing now. Oooo and The Sing-Off. The Sing-Off just makes me happy!

Wearing: The Sweetheart Skinny Jeans in Black. I cannot believe I like a pair of Old Navy jeans this much but they are a perfect fit.

Wishing: I didn’t have to spend so much time cleaning my kitchen. Not a real problem, I know.

Drinking: Trader Joe’s Wake Up Blend made with my Aeropress

Cooking: We’re in eat down mode. Money seems to be flying out the window. I’m not into grocery shopping right now. So, we’re eating what is currently in the pantry and fridge.

Making: Rainbow Loom bracelets. A is obsessed with this thing and, I must admit, it is strangely addictive. I’m mostly starting and finishing bracelets that he is making for friends.

Smiling: At my funny kids. Best line recently from A: “I never see my butt.” Said with genuine disappointment

Hoping: To get some time to pull together a special gift we are planning for the boys.

Enjoying: The fact that the Spartans are headed to the Rose Bowl and that, in a house of Go Blue fans, my team is victorious.

Listening: Lord, I Need You and All the Poor and Powerless on repeat.

Doing: Advent readings with the kids from The Jesus Storybook Bible. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this book.

Planning: Mostly just in my mind right now, but a going-away party for friends moving out of state 🙁

Obsessing: Aztec print. I can’t get enough of it. Really wishing I would have snagged this sweater before it disappeared.

Thirty.

I wrote this last week and intended to post it promptly. Then I was faced with a few things that caused me to be anxious and worry and I felt hypocritical. But I’m posting it now all with the understanding that I am still being sanctified and there is much progress to be had.

Thursday was my thirtieth birthday. I’m not having any sense of crisis or feeling old. In fact, I’m feeling amazed and thankful.

Ten years ago, when I turned 20 I was in the middle of a very dark time. I was very depressed and did not have a lot of hope for my future. I was away at college and did not have any really good friendships at the time. My family was far away and I don’t think any of us really understood what I was going through. By the grace of God, the darkness eventually lifted (I don’t have an answer for why or how) but I lived most of my early twenties in fear of it returning. For me depression felt like someone sitting on your chest all the time. I didn’t function well that way and I didn’t want to have to do life like that. In the past ten years, I’ve dealt with anxiety and worry but never the darkness of depression the same way I had in 2002/2003 and, for that, I am very grateful. I also know that God has used a lot of things in the past ten years to help me deal with my tendency to be anxious.

In a lot of ways, these birthdays that end in zeros can be scary. They are markers of what is coming to an end and what may be to come. I’ve been studying Genesis since September and Abraham’s example of faith has made it much easier to approach this birthday. Hope and thankfulness are much better lenses to view life through than anxiety and worry.

I could go on and on about all the amazing things God has done in my life in the last several years. In that time, I started dating D, got married and became a mom over and over and over again. I’ve changed jobs several times and seen the Lord provide for our family in ways I could not imagine. We have had loss and blessings and overwhelming peace from the only One who can provide it. I am thankful  for what I have learned in the past ten years and for what is to come.

Back to Blogging (Maybe)

The other day, I found myself leaving a comment on people.com. Obviously, this is not a good sign. It is not an place of reason. I had an opinion and I needed to get it out of my head. Sometimes I just need to write.

I changed the header and title of this blog (not the URL because, well, I don’t know how to do that). I stole the new title from a Rosie Thomas song that makes me cry. It is about all that can happen in just a year. For us, it was about 14 months. It has been amazing and crazy and some days it does not seem like there is much left of my brain.

But, whatever is left, may just end up here from now on. I’m realizing I need to a place to remember what life is like right now as we raise these three young children. If I don’t write it down, I’ll soon forget. So, I’m officially back to inconsistent, random blogging.

Reading Material

I really do want to write. I can’t decide if I want people to read it or not. And I also have a hard time getting a coherent thought out without being interrupted by someone who needs to be hugged, fed or clothed. So, for now, I’ll share some of what I’ve been reading…

The Trouble with Dave Ramsey from Shannan at Flower Patch Farmgirl

We resisted what we believed in the pit of our stomachs to be true. We thought we could serve them both. We thought maybe we could be that one rich couple who has a lot of money so that they can give more away. We wanted a piece of the blessing of God’s promise, but we hoped it could be without sacrifice. We didn’t want the “living like no one else” to be for nothing.

Six things adoption has taught me by Shaun Groves at Simple Mom

In 2007, I visited an Ethiopian orphanage, trying not to make eye contact with any of the little ones around me in need of a father. I’ve always found avoidance to be the surest way to never feel bad about saying “no.” My brother-in-law, who was adopting from Ethiopia, was there with me. “Maybe we’ve made it too complicated,” he said. (I knew by “we” he meant “me.”) “What if God’s will for our life is found wherever someone’s need and our ability intersect?”

From By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity by Wendy Horger Alsup

I was taken back a bit when I first read the definition of the Greek term translated humility. It means a deep sense of your littleness, especially your moral littleness. Unlike our culture’s watered down version of this term, humility does not mean that you are simply nice, polite, or diplomatic. It means that you have a correct understanding of your salvation as Paul outlined in Ephesians 2. You understand that you were dead in your sins, you were born a child deserving of God’s judgement, and God saved you by his grace and not by your own works. You understand your moral littleness. Then you respond to others in light of this understanding. A humble person does not stand in judgment against others from a point of righteous indignation. You and I have completely missed the entire message of Ephesian 1 and 2 if we think we have any moral high ground over anyone else. This is the core of the gospel.

And, lastly, this verse has shown up to me through various people and places over and over in the last month.

I have told you these things, so that in me you you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

Birth Story

I’ve been wanting to write out our birth story but debating whether to put it here or not. I am fully aware that this may not be something everyone cares to read so feel free to skip this one. I won’t be offended.

Here it goes…

December 27: A Groupon appears in my inbox for a prenatal massage. It is serendipitous. I buy it and go that afternoon. Surely, this will induce labor.

December 28: I’m 40 weeks pregnant and my midwife says not much is going on. In fact, I’m in exactly the same place I have been for weeks. D asks her if there is anything we should do and she suggests acupuncture.

December 29, 30 & 31: Stick needles in my face? Sure. I’ll do anything. This baby needs to come out. I go three days in a row to a hippie community-acupuncture clinic. But, I’m a bad hippie because right after acupuncture, I go through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Coke (and maybe some fries).

December 31: Our friends are so nice to come over for New Year’s Eve since our only plans are to wait for this baby. Late at night, I start feeling different but I blame it on the queso that we are all eating.

January 1 @ 1:00 am: Our friends leave and I tell D that I think I am having contractions but I’m not sure. I go to sleep for a few hours.

4:00 am: I’m definitely having contractions. Nothing crazy and totally manageable. I breathe through them and the come every seven minutes or so. I’m excited now…too excited to sleep, something I will regret later.

8:00 am: Contractions are the same. The boys wake up and we tell them that their sister is going to come today (what did we know?). AIB just stares at my belly, waiting for her to jump out. They proceed with the day as normal. We let our family know that I am in labor.

12:00 pm: My parents take the boys to lunch and we finish packing up our bags for the hospital. Contractions are still very manageable. I just move from the balance ball to the tub to walking around the house. We’ve let my midwife know that I am in labor.

3:00 pm: My contractions pick up and are now closer together, maybe three to five minutes apart (and they stay this way until she is born). We call the midwife again and she wants me to sleep (this was excellent advice). I try my best and maybe get a couple of hours of sleep, with contractions every five minutes. Our friend comes to pick up the boys and they are totally spoiled for the afternoon and evening.

7:00 pm: My contractions seem to be slightly stronger and are as close as three minutes apart. We decide to go to the birth center.

8:00 pm: As soon as we arrive at the hospital, my contractions slow down. I feel silly for being at the birth center and the midwife tells me, “You are not in active labor.” (If you really want to know, I’m only at 2 centimeters dilated). I’m really annoyed by this. They tell us to go home. I’m that lady – the one who went to the hospital too early. The midwife tells us, “Stop timing contractions and try to rest. First babies take three days to come.” I’m super, super annoyed with her. I tell D I don’t like her (about 12 hours after this, I am in love with her).  As soon as we get back in the car, my contractions pick up again and the ride home is awful. We get home and I labor more.

January 2 @ 1:30 am: I’ve gotten a little bit of sleep but not much because, well, contractions are uncomfortable. While leaning over the balance ball, my water breaks. I tell D to call our friend back who is watching the boys and she kindly comes back to stay the night. He also calls the birth center to tell them we are coming back. I tell him, “Tell them to turn on the tub.” All I want is to be in the giant tub they have at the birth center – pretty much my whole reason for deciding to have a baby there.

2:00 am: We arrive and I’m now 5 centimeters dilated. I hang out in the tub. The awesome-ness of the tub cannot be overstated. I am there for a while.

5:00 am: I keep looking at the clock and thinking, “For sure this baby will be here by 6:00 am.” The nurse checks me and I’m six centimeters. Seriously. I labor on the bed for a while and get back in the tub but I am obsessed with sleeping. Sleep is the only thing I can think about. I start to think getting an epidural would be a fantastic idea so that I can sleep. All I want to do is sleep. I tell D that I want something so that I can GO TO SLEEP. Things get unpleasant. I keep asking D to get me some drugs and he keeps saying encouraging things (D states: “At this point, I had no idea what I was doing”).

6:00 am: After moving to a few more positions, the nurse and D put me on the bed because I can’t even keep my head up. I have never been so tired in my entire life. My contractions are still three to five minutes apart and I’m starting to think I’m going to be doing this for a lot longer. I really want an epidural so that I can sleep but I am able to lay in bed with my head down and belly propped up with a bunch of pillows, getting small portions of sleep between contractions.

7:00 am: I’m so over this. I’m so, so tired and I tell D I want some drugs. The nurse gets the midwife and tells her I want to discuss getting some help. The midwife arrives and she is really calm. She says she wants to check me before we even discuss any medication. I’m about 8 centimeters dilated and, turns out, my water didn’t really break all the way. She asks me if it is okay if she breaks my water. Yes, it is okay. It would have been okay like five hours ago. She tells me that anything she gives me for pain would just slow things down and I know that she is right. In some genius move, she totally changes the subject and I’m talking about something completely unrelated to labor between contractions. I don’t feel so stuck now. By breaking my water and distracting me, she has helped me get over my frustration about not progressing as fast as I would have liked.

9:00 am: I am ready to push. I move to a few positions but squatting seems to be the most effective for me. (Sorry if that is TMI but it is the truth). I never really envisioned things going this way. It is a bit primitive but I don’t care because if it means the baby is going to come out, I am down with that. The midwife asks me if I can drink a Coke because an Amish midwife she used to work with always gave women Coke when they were pushing to help. I love Coke and she goes off to find one but the baby is coming and the nurse has to go get her before she can find any. I’m pushing on the bed at this point but it isn’t that effective. I hear the midwife say, “If she squats again, she’ll have the baby.” I say, “I’ll squat” and that is exactly what I do and, sure enough, Baby Girl is here just minutes later (at 10:09 am). It is crazy and awesome. She is big (8 lbs. 6 oz.) and has lots of dark hair. I go from being obsessed with sleep to wide awake and in awe of our little girl.

A few things…

  • My husband is a really awesome doula. He was encouraging and there the entire time. One of my books said to have people around who relax you. He truly is my “relaxing” person – in childbirth and in life, in general.
  • I’d say I was about 80% committed to a low-intervention birth when we were planning. I’m not even totally sure why this was important to me because I really have no issues with pain medication or epidurals. I had a lot of fear about having to be induced and having a c-section. From what I researched, planning for a birth with low-interventions would help me avoid those things and it did (but it did not make it fast).
  • The midwives and nurses at the birth center were so helpful before, during and after birth. I want to hug all of them…a lot.

Notes from Maternity Leave

Our little girl was born four weeks ago which means I have four weeks left of maternity leave. I very much appreciate and need the time off but not working is very strange for me. My job is only part-time and very flexible but it was part of my routine so everything feels a bit different.

In the fall, we signed up for a cable package so that we could watch college football. Well, college football is over and we still have cable. I told D to cancel it this week because the endless amount of home-buyers on House Hunters who claim they can’t live without stainless steel appliances, open concept and walk-in closets is making me cynical about the American public as a whole. It isn’t good when you start talking to the TV in a sarcastic and judge-y tone. You would think I would just turn off the TV but I don’t have the will power so cable must go.

DIB joined his first after-school activity last week and is now a proud member of the Running Club. They literally just run for an hour two-days per week after school. He really, really wanted to participate and I think any way he can get out that extra energy without damaging something is a great idea.

AIB lost two teeth this week. One was very loose and he let me pull it out for him. The one that was next to it was also loose and was kicked out by his brother while they were playing in a ball-pit. He was so happy about getting another $1 that he didn’t seem to care that his brother had kicked him in face.

MNB is growing and doing well. She is doing all the things that babies do. We’ve been enjoying all the cuddles and she is a great sleeper. Since I head back to work in a few weeks, I knew I needed to set up some type of routine so I’m doing the same thing we did with T (which is the EASY routine from The Baby Whisperer). We just started today and it is going pretty well but things are going to be very different this time around with two older brothers who have their own schedule.

Tomorrow, our foster licensing worker comes over to add our new family member to our file. All this means is that she needs to see her and see where she sleeps. We probably won’t be taking any respite or long-term placements for a while but our license still up-to-date since we don’t feel done with foster care yet. In the meantime, we are happily filling out reference forms and answering questions from a few friends who are either new foster parents or getting their license soon.

Little Sister

Our sweet girl was born on January 2, 2012. We’re settling in as a family of five (!). The boys have done so well in their big brother roles. I’m so proud of them and their ability to roll with the changes. The entire time I was pregnant I had a hard time picturing what she would look like and she has surprised us all with a head-full of dark hair, making her look more like her brothers than either of her parents.

Nine Months

That is how long it takes us to paint a kitchen (well, and a few other projects thrown in there too).

We primed in April and then I found out I was pregnant and things kind of came to a halt. Then we decided to have an over-the-stove microwave installed, tile removed and a bead-board backsplash put in. I still have more plans for the kitchen but I am loving the lightness of the new color (Sweet Spring by Benjamin Moore, color-matched with Behr Paint). The rest of the living area (family room and hallway) are the same color as well now. We need pictures on the walls and a rug in the family room still. And now that I look at those pictures, I see I need to replace that red floor run in the kitchen as well (goodbye to all red!)

It never would have happened without Heather, my mom and D. Thank you all!

Mystery Box Memories

We are nine days away from when this little girl is supposed to arrive. Who knows when she will decide to grace us with her presence but, for now, we are packing in the fun and getting ready to celebrate Christmas.

My parents started a tradition when we were kids that I knew I wanted to do when we had kids as well (actually , I wanted to do it before we had kids but D would not cooperate). Each year, each member of the family picks a special person and together we put together a box of goodies for that person. One night before Christmas, we hop in the van when it is dark out, drive to that person’s house, ring the doorbell and then run to hide. Inside the box is a poem/song, with hints about our identity.

This started last week on Thursday since the friend that DIB picked was headed for vacation the next day. I gave his friend’s mom a little warning that they might have a surprise on their doorstep that evening. DIB was so excited to drop off his mystery box and loved hiding in bushes while he heard his friend open the door and find the surprise. Just a few minutes after we left, his friend called him (he has guessed it was DIB from the clues) and DIB was so excited to talk on the phone, he even introduced himself by stating his full name.

The next evening, the rest of us got to deliver our boxes. It was getting late and the boys were happy to find parents in a crunch for time so they got to each McDonald’s chicken nuggets in the car as we drove to our first destination. AIB’s friend wasn’t home but a few hours later we got a message from him and his mom. It was a recording of them opening the box and his friend guessing AIB as the “Secret Santa” who had left the box of goodies. D picked his mom as his special person and the boys’ were thrilled to get to ring Grandma Nan’s doorbell and run away. She guessed pretty quickly who is was from since D’s song included the line, “I’m sorry that I was born huge” (kind of a giveaway that the box was from her largest child – nine pounds a birth)! We stopped in for a quick visit with Papa and Grandma Nan before we headed out to our final spot. I picked my friend, Meredith, and wrote a little song to the tune of Breath of Heaven (much trickier than I had anticipated). It was fun to get her message later that night saying she had figured it out and enjoyed the surprise.

Last year, the boys had only been in our home for about four weeks at Christmas time and I couldn’t pull this off last year. We were still in “getting-to-know-you” mode. One year in, I can say we know these guys pretty well. We have good and bad days but we all love each other and are definitely a family.

Yesterday, the boys sang in church (with the rest of the kids). They did this last year as well but this year was different because instead of looking totally confused and a bit annoyed, AIB actually sang! Last year he cracked us up with his serious expression and lack of enthusiasm. This year, he chimed in with the rest of the group to sing Jesus Loves Me and Hallelujah (which he continued to sing the rest of the day).

Once we were home, the boys played nicely together and I couldn’t help but be thankful that they have each other. At night, we read a couple of books and when I tucked them into bed, AIB grabbed me around the neck with his little arm and said, “Stay here!” I said, “I can’t, buddy. I have to go do your laundry.” He then said, “Oh, sorry, mom!” I reassured him that I was very happy to take care of his laundry for him (at least for a few more years). We love these boys and can’t believe how far they have come in the past year.

Random Snippets

The whole blogging thing is going to be sporadic for a while. Here are a few snippets from the past few weeks…

  • A few weeks ago, we took a full-day birthing class. Honestly, I found the whole thing fascinating and really enjoyed it as well as meeting other couples who were due around the same time. I think D enjoyed the class a lot too. The two doulas who taught the class were funny and kept things moving so it didn’t get too boring. And, the graphic videos and images, were kept to a minimum. This past Friday, we have a private “bonus” class with one of the doulas to get some additional information and I am feeling pretty prepared now. I’ve read a few books but I’ve always learned better by what I hear and see so these classes were a great preparation for me and D. Just before Thanksgiving, we toured the birth center so now we actually know where to go at the hospital when the time comes (four weeks to go)!
  • The woman who taught our class has a six-year-old son and mentioned that she got him the Lego Police Station for Christmas. As soon as she said that, I couldn’t help but think about how much our boys would love something like that. I made the mistake of looking up the police station and fire station on Amazon. In total, they are over 1300 pieces of Legos. After talking to D, we decided to go for it and make this the boys “big” present for Christmas (the storage system might be a gift more for me though).

  • As usual, I’ve done most of my Christmas shopping so far online. I ordered the cutest dress-up police costume for our nephew, Shay. It arrived today and D opened the box. As soon as I could see what was in it, I said, “Don’t show that to AIB.” However, he was right there and really wanted to know. We prefaced letting him look by saying this was a gift for his cousin, not for him. And then we talked about how we need to think about others and how important it is to give gifts to those we love. He shook his head and we let him look inside. Immediately, I could tell what he was thinking. We asked him to pretend like he was Shay opening the gift and told him that if he was really nice to Shay and was a good gift-giver, that sometime Shay would probably share it with him. We have a long way to go on teaching the boys to be generous and self-less.
  • We are getting the house ready to add our fifth family member and it seems like there is no end to the work. I’m trying to make peace with the idea that it might not all be done by the time she arrives. But one thing that is the top of my list is to record a new podcast. We have seriously slacked on this and have lots to share about the boys, our “family-versary” and how they are doing. I have a drafted outline and I am hoping by putting this out there that it will get us motivated to sit down and record an episode ASAP.

That is my quick, not-too-exciting update on life.