Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

It was a full and memorable advent season for our family.  We rode trains and made marshmallows, we had hot chocolates in the car while looking at Christmas lights, we cut down our tree, sent packages to family, made crafts, decorated ornaments, and made snowman cookies.  We watched Christmas productions, had movie nights, visited with family, attended parties, and played in the snow.  We made gingerbread play-doh to give to Silas' friends, delivered treats to neighbors, gifts to babysitters, read Christmas stories and cut out snowflakes.  

We did it all. And I am pooped. 

I mean, I am ready to tear down the Christmas decorations. Right. Now.  I enjoyed wringing every last drop out of Christmas this season with our boys, but this mama is ready to package it up and ship it on out (please, oh please can I take it all down yet?!)

We had many wonderful moments with our boys: watching them LOVE their new drum set (yes- we bought it for them, and yes- we might be crazy), scooter, baking gear and balls that they got for Christmas (thanks grandparents!) We received amazing generosity from unexpected places and were richly blessed by shared meals with our life group, with family, friends, and with co-workers.  We loved watching the boys' eyes light up on the Stanley park Christmas train and loved watching them engage in giving, making, and sharing. Candle-light Christmas Eve service, Silas' pre-school performance, snow-fort building with cousins, ginger-bread house decorating....I could go on.  But I am D-O-N-E.

The pros of planning advent for the kids: sustained energy, continued anticipation, intentional giving and community activities, advanced planning, and wonderful memories.

The cons: fatigue and the actual somewhat 'burnt out' feeling when Christmas actually arrives.

Here's a collage of some of our best memories:

I don't know that I would change a lot about what we did but next year I want to...
1. Do Christmas photos in the summer 
2. Try not to do more than one outing in one weekend (we had 3 Christmas parties in 4 days and also crammed in a late outing to Williams Park and Stanley Park train back to back.  Too. Much)
3. Definitely go back to the Stanley Park Train.
4. Have less candy and junk food for the boys (ugh, behaviour suffered from too much sugar).
5. Don't wrap up Christmas books for every day- it just got to be too much.
6. Abide by the: "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" Christmas present shopping guide for kids.
7. More rest time, reflection time, time with God.
8. Continue to pick out 1-2 Christmas ornaments during the year that signify something important that happened in our family (so that our tree becomes a memory tree!)  This year we pulled out an ornament we bought on our family vacation to Hawaii and I can't wait to see our whole tree fill up from memories we've shared as a family!

And now....onto planning Silas' birthday (will the event planning never end?!)  From November through January it is non-stop with every member of our family celebrating birthdays, and Christmas.

Phew.  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of memories to cherish.
Good-bye Christmas, until next year!



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Real Me

It's been a lovely Advent season for us here so far.  We've had a lot of fun activities together as a family, and I have to admit that the craziness of planning December early has paid off.  I love having an idea of something to do already for the day rather than being stuck inside, in the cold, without any thoughts of how to entertain my rambunctious boys.  It makes for a crazy November but a sweeeet December.

However, it MUST be said, I have had a lot of comments via facebook about just how 'perfect' I seem to be (doing all these organized crafts and all) and I want to reassure you, this is simply NOT TRUE.  Most days look like the following:


  • 7-8 Get up, get the boys breakfast.  Get me some java before I turn into a pillar of salt. "More milk! More cereal! He spilled! He's pushing me! I'm still hungry!"  Crying, gnashing of teeth, etc.
  • 8-9 Get frustrated trying to spend 5 minutes doing my hair while the boys fight while they are left alone.  It's not too much to ask, is it?  But they are rarely able to be in the same room without supervision and apparently 5 minutes for me to do my hair is enough time for them to get into trouble.  ARG
  • Pack our diaper bag
  • Spend 30+ minutes trying to get the boys on their potties, in their clothes, and out the door.  I hate this part. It usually leads to a partial mental breakdown, lots of huffing and puffing and shortness of breath, and a few mild reprimands.  But, I do it anyways because if we don't get out the door in the morning, we will all be frustrated, irritable and annoying by the afternoon.
  • 9-11:30 Then it's off to pre-school for Silas (2 days a week) and errands for Toby and I, midwife appointments, library runs, visits with friends, time at Strongstart, meetings at Church, grocery shopping, etc.  I have the most energy at this point in the day so this is when we have to do errands.
  • 11:30-12:30 See above regarding mealtime.  We are all a little done at this point so it's a matter of food in mouths and kids in beds.
  • 12:30-2 I crash.  Toby crashes. Silas does whatever he does in quiet time in his room.  It usually involves me needing to tell him to be quieter at some point and a few potty runs.  I'm not going to be ashamed: this is when Silas gets to play with 'his phone' (read: our old, broken iphone that we've crammed with games and home videos). But unlike most people think, I am ridiculously unproductive at this time of day.  I fudge around on the internet, read, do devos (rarely, but sometimes), take a rest in my bed, stare at the wall (who rarely argues with me and doesn't need to be dressed/wiped/fed).  The point is, I don't hardly DO anything other than eat cake, act like a vegetable, and take a mental break from the kids.
  • 2-3 Spend time with Silas (he loves to sit and do activity books with me), do some housework, baking, or dinner prep before Toby wakes up
  • 3-5 Survive until Daddy comes home.  Snacks, advent activities, go outside if the weather is permitting, do some dinner work, and this is when the TV comes out: for those last 30 minutes before Daddy is home. Enter: babysitter Bob and nanny Dora. It's either TV or no dinner, folks.
Literally, this is my day, everyday.  When I'm not working or there isn't some other rare occurrence, I am not nearly as productive or perfect as people think.  I have a lot of mini meltdowns when things like potty runs and getting shoes on takes more time than it should.  Or when I've cleaning up spilled milk for the 10th time or, the kicker, when the boys are fighting AGAIN.  If we don't get out in the mornings or go outside in the afternoons, they are on top of each other and it gets old, very fast. I hate getting kids in carseats (which is, unfortunately, only going to get worse) and the thought of having to grocery shop with the boys pushes me over the edge.

So, there you have it.  Anyone out there still think I have it all together?  Most any productive activity happens at night, when the boys are in bed and I stay up too late.  But often I just want to crash in the evenings. 

Still need more confessions? I have anger management issues.  I am a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist, I should spend more time with God, I get NO exercise other than running up and down the stairs getting new pairs of underwear and lifting boys into car seats, and I spend no time sewing curtains or hand-making bread or whatever those incredible domestic home-makers do.  I don't scrapbook my boys photos.  I am 2 years behind in photo books.  I buy cards and rarely make them.  There is a thick layer of dust on most pieces of large furniture and if you saw my Tupperware cupboard or baking cupboard or pantry, you'd probably laugh and recommend a home organizer.  

Those are my confessions for you.  I'm a real Mom with real struggles and I never get done what I hope to in a day and most days I'm trying desperately just to love my children with the little energy I seem to have after taking care of all our physical needs. 

These advent activities are really just a creative outlet and a way to keep us busy while stuck indoors in the winter.  I promise you most of my life is spent doing what You are ALL doing as well: wiping noses, cleaning floors, making dinner, preparing snacks, etc etc.

Just want to make sure that those of you who have been so gracious with your comments about 'how creative' I am and 'how organized' and 'how on top of things' have a more accurate picture of my real life.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Countdown!



It's that time of year again!  So excited to begin our Christmas Advent countdown.  I have hauled out the boxes I made last year and I'm busy planning and stuffin' them with ornaments to hang [we will decorate the tree over the course of December with the boys adding a few each day], activities to do, a few little treats and knick-knacks.  In the spirit of NOT accumulating, most things are just re-purposed, used, or cheap one-day-use items like glow sticks.

Why do I do this?  
To fully enjoy the season, teach my kids about generosity, learn about the true Christmas story and rather than buy them a bunch of things, plan a bunch of family and community togetherness activities.

This year's list:
December

  • 1. Decorate the house while listening to Christmas music.  Set up our nativity scene!
  • 2. Give-away-day! Purchase two toys (kids can help pick them out) to donate to the Langley Christmas Bureau, drop off clothes for donation with Night Shift street ministries, write to our compassion child, and see if there's any toys that the boys can decide to part with [still looking for ideas of where to donate].
  • 3. Make homemade hot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows to give away in jars to appreciatesome special sweet someone's in our life.  Silas is gonna love mixin' up the powder!
  • 4. Make a fabulous craft for grandparents [can't link to what we're doing because they check my blog!]
  • 5. Put together some packages of love to send in the mail.  We're also hoping to attend this fabulous Christmas production written, produced, and directed by dear friends of ours: This Isn't Christmas.
  • 6. Fun nativity activity sheets.  You HAVE to check them out.  Free download and looks perfect for preschool aged like Silas.
  • 7. Celebrate Jason's birthday with a breakfast at our favourite local restaurant [Wendels], chopping down a Christmas tree (and decorating it!) and them heading off the Maple Ridge Christmas fair and parade.  It's free!  Our boys have never been to a parade so it should be a blast!
  • 8. Christmas train craft!  Daddy gets to assemble a fun christmas train with the kids.  See how it goes...
  • 9. Christmas ornament making day.  I bought a fun little kit from Michaels and I'm hoping to make these as well as some cute birdfeeders [which aren't really ornaments, but they will adorn the trees outside our house, so they still count!].  Some will be for giving away, some for keeping.
  • 10. Snowman pizza for dinner with cookies and milk: while watching a Christmas movie in our jammies!  I'd love any ideas for age-appropriate Christmas movies!
  • 11. This one I am so excited about: homemade gingerbread playdough!  That way we can do the best part (decorating the little men) over and over again and don't have to worry about the mess in the kitchen!  Silas is going to package up some for a few of his buddies as well which we can deliver.  Gonna spruce it up with some glitter and decorate with whatever beads and gems I can find.
  • 12. Snowflake party day!  I have snowflake stickers, we'll make and hang some basic snowflakes, and I'm hoping to attempt one of these, just for kicks.
  • 13. Stamp and mail Christmas cards [here's hoping they are actually done by then].  The kids get to decorate the envelopes with an assortment of stickers.  Jason's work Christmas party is that night too!
  • 14. Outing day!  Haven't decided yet but we might try go up to Grouse mountain for part of the day, go sledding at Seymour, or hit up Burnaby Village Museum or Christmas in Williams Park.  Lots of activities to try, who wants to come?
  • 15. Check out the Stanley Park Christmas train. I haven't gone since I was a kid and I'm sure it will be a win for the boys.  Thought this might be the year to try since they both seem to be continually obsessed with trains...[let's see if we can get tickets].
  • 16. Make some fake snow!  NOW, I know all the rest of you Canada folk are laughing right now because in your neck of the woods there is simply NO need to make your own pretend snow...but you see, snow if very rare down on the coast and there is no assurance we'll even get any!  SO I'm going to make a fun sensory bin of fake snow [saw it at strongstart for the first time] and I've bought the boys some fun pretend scenery, sparkly Christmas things and some mini-dinosaurs to throw in there.  Can't wait...
  • 17. Snowman pancakes for dinner by candlelight.
  • 18. Peppermint party day.  Hoping to have our life group Christmas bash on this day so I'm planning to make some yummy peppermint treats. Like this incredible apple dip and this peppermint bark.  Silas will enjoy mashing candy canes and watching the bark melt in the oven.  
  • 19. Visit the German Christmas market downtown Vancouver.  We checked it out last year and it was great fun! (Too bad I can't have the mulled wine).  Got a groupon this time for 1/2 price- Carousel ride included! 
  • 20. Make nativity scene gingerbread houses!  [Why have I never thought of this before?]
  • 21. Cookie baking for neighbors.  Always a hit.  Can't wait to try out these cookies this year [they remind me of Dr. Seuss.  Don't they look delectable?]
  • 22. Christmas music dance party.
  • 23. Get the kids hot chocolate and drive around at night looking at Christmas lights. Warm up by the fire to read Christmas books [I plan to buy a new one for them every Christmas so this is probably when I'll put that one out.  Planning to buy this one...such a great book by such a great author.
  • 24. Hang out with dear friends in our yearly Christmas Eve Fondu.
  • 25. Family. Worship.  Games.  Food.  Fellowship.  Celebrating the whole reason we've been counting down to begin with: Jesus.


We will also be following a nativity reading plan for the last 7 days before Christmas [and will play with the nativity scene we've set out, pulling out new characters each day]. 

We also started a new tradition this year and bought an adorable turtle Christmas ornament from our trip to Hawaii. We hope to buy one or two ornaments every year - to remind us of particular events, holidays, or other things to remember God's faithfulness to us.

One final thing I'm working on?  I keep all of our Christmas books stashed away throughout the year so I will probably wrap these up and on random nights, let them unwrap a 'new' one for bedtime story.

Sound like fun?

JOIN US!

If any of the above dates you are free, or if any of those activities interest you, please come.  We are flexible!  We'd rather do any of these things with friends and family than by ourselves.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nesting

Is it possible to be nesting at 21 weeks pregnant?  My mind is going so frantically that I cannot even focus for a few minutes at a time.  I am plotting and planning and moving things and throwing things away, desperate for less.  Does anyone ever feel like their 'stuff' starts to sit heavy and weigh down on their shoulders?  The time it takes for me to move and shuffle 'things';dusting, rearranging, and organizing, is simply not worth having those things to begin with.  

How to make the switch to living more simplistically?

I read this blog and was inspired, but simultaneously overwhelmed.


We are trying to accommodate another life in our home, which is already full.   In a lot of ways, we'd be happy with more space, but we are not that interested in taking on a bigger mortgage and a heavier load on our finances.  We want to make do, for now.  But that means that furniture simply has to go.  Shelves simply have to be built, and our home is in desperate need of a space-efficiency renovation.  Yet, who has time for that?  We have a list a mile long of little projects that would make our home more livable that just get shelved weekend, after weekend.  Curtains to hang, dresser drawers to fix, rooms to be stripped of their extraneous possessions and organizational accouterments to be built.

I'm going crazy.

I don't think it helps that there is currently a mattress on the floor of my living room, an unusable freezer in my garage and boxes of too small boys clothes hoarding our closets and shelving.

Stuff.  Stuff.  Stuff.  

I think we need to sell half the stuff we own and do not use as it simply stresses me out. Yet, there's this other side of me that, in the hopes of being economical, that I keep just in case we might use them.  Empty peanut butter jars, empty containers, empty boxes, extra sheets, extra clothes, clothes 10 sizes too big for the boys that I'm keep for that day.  But is it really economical?  It might save a few bucks in the end but my emotional stress and time spent in upkeep, costs something, doesn't it? 

My big question now is what to do with all my sentimental hoarding?  I have about 2-3 boxes of childhood knick-knacks and toys that I have boxed away for that day when I have a little girl (yay, at least that is in the somewhat near future!)  But the truth is, will she even care to see it?  Play with it?  It will carry no memories for her.  Or what about the boxes of letters that I've kept from Jason and I, Christmas cards and notes from family, and my yearbooks?  Good grief!  Yearbooks!  How long have I been carting them around and have I even looked at them again, ever?  Whose idea was it to have them??  And then there's my prom dress and wedding dress and...

Sigh.  Please, tell me a system and method that you use to decide what to keep and what to chuck.  I simply cannot have any more 'things' in my life or my brain is going to explode.  I find it stressful ensuring that the boys wear all the clothes they own, or making sure that I pull out saved toys at the right moment, or not forgetting that I have that kitchen do-dad or gadget that is so useful but also happens to be dusty and broken from lack of use in the deepest recesses of my kitchen cabinets.

Help!!!

I know I should just start somewhere and do one room at a time but we really just need a weekend, or a week to just do the whole house over.  Know what I mean? 

Maybe this Christmas we need to find homes for a bunch of things we don't use. Maybe we should see how much we can sell, so that we can give that monetary value away.  Any ideas are welcome!


Friday, November 15, 2013

It's a...

So we arrived at the ultrasound appointment and by this point, my heart is racing, I'm emotional and nauseated.  I woke up in the night and could hardly sleep.  Is the baby healthy?  Is the baby growing okay? Is this going to be a girl? A boy?  What does the future hold for this family?

I was trying any and every means of preparing myself to NOT be disappointed.  Why would I be disappointed?  "If we had three boys, that would be fine." (I kept telling myself) I was quizzing Jason on the way, "Tell me all the fun adventures we could have with three boys..."  But I was mainly trying to convince my emotions to not get too intoxicated with the idea of having a girl.

All along in this pregnancy I've been feeling like it's different. "It must be a girl," I'd tell myself.  I'm heavier, sooner.  I'm more nauseated.  I'm more emotional.  But online quizzes were only leaving me perplexed and frustrated...oh RIGHT, we can't predict these things (darn it).

Anyways, I digress.

As an extra blessing to us, my high-risk obstetrician gets to be in the ultrasound suite with us.  Which, let me tell you, is amazing.  He can point out different things along the way, "this is good, this here is blah blah blah" etc.  The whole time he kept saying, "this baby has a cute profile!  What an active baby!  Look at all the things we are able to visualize." [All VERY encouraging and anxiety-alleviating].

And then there was a pause.

I'm watching the screen, and suspended mid-air.  The doctor, knowing I'm a nurse, points out some parts on the screen?  "What's that Shannon?"
"I DON'T KNOW," I practically screamed, not being willing to guess because really, who can actually tell what you are looking at on that screen?

"Shannon, it's a girl!"

My heart lept, tears were streaming down my face, and I must have asked him three or four times "are you sure?"

I promised myself I would be equally as excited and prepared to hear the news that it was going to be another boy, but there was a new emotion of sheer gratitude and joy in the knowledge that this family will embrace a little pixie with pink tights and tutus.  Hold me back from shopping people, because this Mama has nothing pink!  Insert "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

So thankful.  So excited.  So blessed.  And so perplexed.  What in the WORLD does it look like to have a girl?  I mean, I have no idea!  I feel like a foreigner already.  "A whole new world" is buzzing in my head.

We celebrated with the boys later in true pink fashion (cupcakes) and Silas is already using the words "cute" and "pretty" more than he ever has.  LOVE.  THIS.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Before I'm 30

It's official. I can no longer really remember high school.  I graduated more than 10 years ago. I relate more to those in their 30's and 40's than those in their 20's.  My youth is gone. 

Not sure that sits well with me. I realize that 30 is the new 20, but I'm still not sure I'm ready to embark on my 30's.  Good thing I have a year to adjust to this idea.  Thing is, I'm not just entering my 30th year.  With age comes layers of life and roles.  It's also my 9th year of marriage, my 7th year as a nurse, and my 4th year as a Mom.  If I just stripped down my life to just my age, I'm sure I would look at 30 and expect different things of myself.  But I'm also responsible to more than myself.  I have a home, I have a family.

Time for a list.

What do I want to accomplish before I'm 30?  Let's be realistic.  I'm also going to have 3 kids by March so anything beyond surviving should be an achievement.  So I'll keep these on the down-low.

P.s. This is where I will formally invite God to rearrange my perfectly laid plans below.  If there is a better way, a way I cannot see; if there is more to be gained from less of my plans and more of Yours, then I choose that.  Mess with me.  In fact, turn these plans upside down for the better, for the best.  I don't want to settle for living for the less abundant life.

1. Get re-acquainted with physical fitness.  For someone who defined myself as athletic for most of my life, these last two years have had me at my lowest point in terms of physical fitness.  I used to pride myself on low-weight-gain pregnancies too and this time around I'm gaining at a rapid pace.  But it's not the weight that bothers me, it's my lack of stamina, my lack of tone, my lack of overall fitness.  It's my lack of priority of physical fitness that really has me bummed. By this time next year I want to find a new fitness passion.  I don't remember really liking running, but I need to either re-discover it, or find some other exciting and worthwhile form of physical fitness that can get me in better shape and a better mental health.  I'm eager for it in a new and desperate sort of way. This mama needs some muscle mass!

2. Set some new career goals.  Shift work is hitting me hard these days, and I've gotten to a bit of a lull in my career.  I'm still passionate about nursing and can't imagine having a more dynamic career.  I love listening to peoples' life stories, wiping the weight of the world off their brows and washing the feet of those who are bound to their beds.  It's the simple acts of nursing that really bend my heart.  But I'm looking for new challenges, new learning opportunities, new areas to explore.  Emergency nursing?  Masters in Nurse Practitioner?  Tropical disease nursing courses online? More teaching at BCIT?  I kind of just want to have a plan by this time next year.  And I hope it includes more education of some kind. Of course, these plans might change with the addition of a third life to my arms...

3. Find a new hobby.  I want to be brave and try something that I will most likely not succeed at. Something that I just want to do.  I've secretly always wanted to learn how to be a drummer, I'd love to attempt a more achievable sewing project, or maybe take an actual photography class.  Or maybe I'll buy a piano and do some new lessons, try my hand at stage-acting again, try a duathlon, or take a cake-decorating class.  I want to just try something new for the sake of trying it.  I'm sick of saying, "One day..." I just want to try one new thing and see if I can find myself a new hobby.  I figure, most of my life I have started extracurricular activities with the aim in mind of mastering them.  I didn't stick with anything, even if it was fun, if I was 'failing' at it.  What if I simply had to goal to do something I love to do- whether or not I'm any good?

4. Do the things that really matter.  More time invested in relationships, more thoughtful and intentional encouraging of others, more serving my family but with a new attitude.  I want to remember and remind myself more often of what really matters and do those things without guilt.  This culture sells me on the notion that the busy-er the better.  The more frantic I look, the more important and valuable what I must be doing.  But I need to find joy in the simple things.  The things that often matter most.

5. Try living without sugar.  At least for awhile.  It's been on my diet 'hit list' and I'm determined to try it at some point.  In fact, I want to actually spend some time this next year really evaluating my body.  What makes me feel best.  What foods make me thrive?  When do I feel most balanced and healthy?  I want to actually study my body and know it better.  I've lived too long just humming along and not really paying attention.

6. Be a camp nurse for a week or two this summer (so my family can enjoy family camp) or go on a missions trip with the kids.  This one is a bit far-fetched, but we can dream, right?

That's as extensive as I've gotten.  The 30 countdown begins...

What were you hoping to achieve before 30?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Creative Projects

Spare time?  What is that?!  I have too many ideas and too little time.  But first, I need to tie up loose ends and finish projects that have been on my 'to do' for too long.

1. Finish my quilt
It's gonna happen.  I mean, I can feel it.  I decided for some really odd reason to HAND sew this quilt together so it's been sitting on a quilting loom for the past 2 years+  But I am trying to be faithful and quilt a few squares a day and I'm determined to get this baby finished before another REAL baby enters the scene.

2. Finish the boys' baby books
P.s. who invented these things? I actually secretly loathe them.  They give me no flexibility and I feel like I have to conform to whatever the headings and titles and questions are.  I mean, do my boys care when they got each tooth?  Or what their horoscope says for them?  But I always felt a little sad that my baby book wasn't completed (Mom, I totally understand why it never got done by the way!).  So I've finished those but for this next baby I've got to come up with a new plan.  What does everyone else do for 'baby books?'

3. Photo book for 2012.  
Yes, that's right, I'm a year behind.  Don't rub it in.  At this point I've only just gone through all our pictures from the year and selected my favourites and tentatively made January.  This is going to take some serious dedication to complete.  Digital cameras make for TOO many photos to choose from, does anyone else have this problem?  [aka 6 photos of essentially the exact same thing X a billion photos from the year.  I have uploaded over 1200 photos for this book and they are my favourites?  I have a problem...]

4. Birthday planning
It is birthday season in this household.  All four of our birthdays land in the next 3 months (clearly, we should have planned that better).  Toby's birthday is gonna be a train themed affair and Silas is going to have a baking party.  I'm excited to craft, brainstorm and buy but I'm trying to be thrifty with cost and extravagant with creativity which is not an easy feat.  

5. Advent!
I know, Halloween JUST finished but I'm excited to celebrate Advent with my kids again. There will be a few little gifties and a few creative projects but I also want to make sure to celebrate Christ and togetherness.  I'm breaking out in cold sweats thinking that it's already almost November and I haven't started but I'm the one who wants to do this, so I have to just chill out.  Last year I made the actual boxes so this year I just get to fill them!  So excited.

6. Christmas cards?
Ummmmm.  I dunno.  I love doing them but I've simplified and simplified and simplified and now it's just a photo in an envelope like the rest of the western world.  Can't help it, there's just not much time left.  Remember when I hand made every card?  Stamped and glued and hand-wrote over 250 every. year?  Maybe by 2025 I'll be back there but for now....it's a photo, which by the way we haven't even taken yet.  Yikes.

What creative projects are you up to?




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Letter to the Little

I have my 20 week ultrasound coming up in two short weeks.  I couldn't be more eager to find out if it's a little miss or little mister currently residing in my belly.  

I don't, in fact, understand how people can wait and be surprised.  I need to mentally prepare.  Not that the gender tells you anything, I suppose. Silas loves baking and he is no less a boy than the average and I, myself was more or less a tomboy.  Somehow, though, I just want to know.

But until I know, here's a few thoughts for him or her:

Little Mister:
I think it's time I take some wise mom's advice (she had 6 boys), and get ripped.  I'm not kidding.  With the addition of your strong little arms I want to be strong enough for you: to pick you up when you've fallen off your bike, to manhandle you off the couch when the wrestling is over, and despite my short stature, for you to know safety within strong boundaries.  Not that I'm hoping you're a fighter, but the reality is that you have two bigger brothers: get your helmet on.  I hope that I can teach you about how to be strong, courageous, and take a stand, but to lean first towards kindness and compassion.  I want to teach you that life is an adventure and the world is yours to explore, but you don't have to trample over others to do it.   I want to be your biggest cheerleader but not just sit on the sidelines and watch, I want to be adventuring with you.  But I also want to teach you that you don't have to be afraid to be still and calm and that emotions don't need to be scary or feminine- I want you to feel safe to express yourself.

I hope and pray that you bring your brothers together in a way that I can't: that there will be a camaraderie and companionship between you boys that is built on respect, admiration and love (not competitiveness). I hope and pray you bring much joy and laughter to our home, and a new perspective that teaches the rest of us.  You are loved, you are welcomed, this home has room for one more boy and I didn't want a girl more than you- I just wanted YOU.

Little Miss:
I can't quite imagine you and I'm mostly afraid of you.  So far my Mommy skills include: learning to wrestle, run, throw and kick, tackle and tumble.  I don't know as much how to be gentle, soft, and tender.  I don't often have to flesh out feelings or consider the innuendos and nuances of my facial expressions.  But I will learn.  I hope that I can be a safe place to run with your emotions and fears, dreams and disappointments- or at least, that I can point you to the One who knows you even better than I ever will. I want to be able to teach you that being a woman is a marvelous and precious thing.  We can be strong and graceful, beautiful and mysterious, rough and tumble and caring.  I want you to, most of all, be confident in our love for you, your uniqueness and divine purpose, and in your place in this family.  I hope and pray you never doubt your worthiness of God's love and no matter what anyone in this world tells you or what you think the mirror tells you: you are beautiful and worth knowing.

I pray that you will bring peace in a new way to our home.  A new calm, a new balance.  I hope you never feel left out from your brothers- but that they will treasure and protect you as much as you respect and admire them. I can't wait to be best friends one day and Lord willing, chat about all the little things in life and all the big things too.  I plan on learning a lot from you, little lady.  How to be more carefree, how to be more cheerful, how to enjoy life more, how to do hair (?) and delight in womanly things.  You are lovely and you are welcome here in our home of boys: a beauty and a light already.

For both:
 I can't promise you I'll be more patient or wiser with you than when I first set out on this journey as a parent, but I can promise you that I won't give up.  I will fall down on my knees often, out of fear, desperation and sheer dependence on our only hope (Christ himself), but with His help, I'll get back up.  And I will continue to choose to be your Mom even when I am overwhelmed, run-down, and afraid.  With Christ, all things are possible and even though I don't know how to be your Mom, I trust He'll show me.

p.s. I love you and can't wait to know you






Sunday, October 20, 2013

Transitions

"Does nothing ever stay the same, does everything change?"
from:
Transitions are the name of the game with small children.  Nothing stays the same. Milk to solids, naps to no-naps, diapers to underwear, strider bike to pedal bike, crib to bed... and so it goes.  It never ends. 

We are in the middle of a series of new transitions for our kids.  I realize, in the middle of it, that I'm simply impatient.  I was comfortable with the old and I want the new, but I don't want to go through the transition. Can Toby simply GO to Sunday school and not need us to spend increasingly less time there with him? Could Silas please stop getting so frustrated on his pedal bike and just get it already?  Could Toby just be completely potty trained so we don't have to go through the multi-stage process of the training?

I am so impatient.  I walk fast, I talk fast, I am efficient and I like getting things done.  Check.  I don't like the incremental, step-by-step that most processes take.  My whole life I have been like this: I am the hare who just wants to get there. I am no tortoise.  Slow and steady wins the race?  What kind of moral of the story is that? No thanks.  Practice makes perfect?  Nah- I just want to get better right now.

And so I've become the impatient bystander to my kid's transitions: hurrying them along, rushing through the motions, expecting outcomes that should not yet be expected.  The kicker?  I am frustrating my children and myself.  

This is especially the case with Silas.  It took us well over a year to fully potty train him.  It was a small form of torture.  He wants to be the one to decide the when and how of transitions he makes.  He is cautious, and he gets frustrated easily so requires much patience, repetition and encouragement.  And then there I am: cajoling, hurrying, and quick to get angry about the process this is taking.  I am the annoying kid in the car saying "Are we there yet?!"

But yet here we are: potty training Toby, trying to teach Silas to ride a pedal bike and Toby to ride a strider bike, getting Toby to sleep in a big-boy bed, getting both boys to sleep in the same room, getting Silas adjusted to pre-school, and getting Silas to be more independent with dressing and undressing himself.

Transitions are the trenches of character development for me and I don't like them.  Patience?  Diligence to the task? The grind and monotonous ambition of growth and learning?

Yuck, yuck, and yuck.

[We need to go through all these stages with another baby?  My ways are doomed...]  

And even though I hate it, I couldn't be more pleased.  It's about time that this girl learned how to be okay with discipline, commitment to a task, and endurance.  I plan on being a marathoner in the department of motherhood and it's gonna take some training but I'm willing.  

God change me to be more patient as you help me foster change in my children! [And get it done quickly, won't you?  By tomorrow would be good.  Or next week, I'm okay with that too...]






Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Third Pregnancy

I'm 16 weeks pregnant now.  I'm sure by this point in my first pregnancy I had posted 100 blog posts about all the finer points of pregnancy symptoms.   Even better, I had posted what size the baby was such as a 'lemon' or a 'measuring tape' or 'duck' sized. I was dreaming names, buying baby necessities, planning the room, [insert 'the sound of music' soundtrack here].

This time?  Well, it's my third time.  I am marveling more at certain things, desperately pleading with time to go a bit slower, and the MOST thankful I've been to pass the first trimester.  Most days I actually forget that I'm pregnant and then wonder why in the world I'm shaking and weak-kneed [because I haven't eaten in 6 hours] and why I'm huffing and puffing [because I climbed the stairs].

But, in case this baby accuses me some day of being negligent in recording what the experience of pregnancy was like with him/her, [if it's a 'he,' I kinda doubt he'll care...I mean, has any male you've ever known EVER asked his Mom what it was like being pregnant with him?] I thought I'd give a quick update:

I'm starting to feel the baby move.  At first I wasn't sure, but now those familiar flutters are present and I couldn't be more relieved and grateful.  Grateful to feel life stirring, thankful to know that this life is growing and excited about enjoying this miraculous feeling all over again.

Nausea is better, but still not totally gone. Blast.  

Sweets are out.  Oddly, every other day in the history of my life I have craved dark chocolate like the air I breathe.  However, this pregnancy the thought of sweet things turns my stomach.  Give me cheese, even better- give me cheese fondu, give me salted something but please keep the chocolate away.  I don't think I've reached for it once. Bizarre. 

I don't even bother with regular clothes.  Not that I'm "Gi-massive" [to quote Silas] but honestly, I'm so glad to be back in stretched topped jeans that I don't even care if I'm making some fashion-faux-pas.

I'm more anxious.  I mean, I'm trying not to be.  But, the reality of the fact that I have two healthy children and that this is a fact I have largely taken so, so for granted, has me really feeling the vulnerability of having another child.  The numbers of people I know who this isn't a reality for is increasing and I realize just how a child's health must never, never, never be un-appreciated.  Not that I'm planning on the sky to fall on us, but I realize the weight of many parents' suffering and don't want to act like a 'healthy' child is entitled to me.  I have yet to have my 20 week ultrasound too which is always a bit nerve-wracking.  May God give us grace for whatever lay ahead and a love for this child however he/she comes.

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm kind of rooting for a girl.  However, I'm trying my darndest to 'plan for' and 'set my mind on' a boy so that I'm not disappointed.  NOT THAT HAVING THREE BOYS would be a disappointment.  It would be a continued adventure and I love the lifestyle that having boys pushes me to have.  However, I'm less certain I physically want to have any more, so kind of want to pass on SOME of my womanly wisdom (?) to a girl. Or maybe, just maybe, I want ONE of my children to REALLY appreciate what I've gone through to be their Mom.  Ya know?  [There is a lot that is assumed here, but I certainly know that girls tend to be a lot closer to their Moms once they too become Moms].  And yes, we will find out what gender we're having, unless by some hand of heaven we cannot find out and then I'll be silently tortured for 5 more months.

The jury's still out, but I'm leaning heavily towards a planned C-section.  One side of my heart is so totally disappointed, but the other part is relieved.  No more self-induced pressure to have the natural delivery that I so admire.  No more beating myself up at another of my body's failings.  I will probably still see the v-bac specialists and seek out one more opinion but I think I know what they're already going to say...so maybe I'll say it for them: my body might not be able to deliver babies on its own.

I realize I've forgotten most everything about having a newborn.  It just gets so normal and lovely to put the boys to bed at 8 pm, for them to feed themselves, and to not have to worry about nursing, naps, etc.  But, alas, this lifestyle shall return to us.  I am determined to enjoy this newborn stage even more than Toby's and so....

The lists are already forming of what needs to be done before this child:
  • the quilt just has to get done.  People, it's been over 4 years. 
  • baby books need to be done for the other two
  • our family photo yearbooks are 2 years behind [fascinating how time continues to march on and pictures continue to be taken but yearbooks are still left un-made!]
  • Silas and Toby need to consistently sleep in the same room
  • If I'm gonna do it all, Toby needs to make the leap and potty train.  He already tells me quite often, and loves enjoying sitting on the can, and he can sit himself on the big potty [if he fell in, it might be seriously dangerous cause he's so tiny] but I need to actually get up the gutso to put him in underwear.  But tell me, when, oh when is a good time for this?!  When I'm driving to and from preschool?  But it's now or months after the baby is born and I'm thinking now might be a better time.
  • My oven needs to be cleaned.  Can you believe this fact is keeping me up at night?  
  • My whole house needs to be sorted, and things discarded.  Like- the large freezer in our garage that hasn't worked for months?  Or the mattress on our boys' floor that we haven't taken to the dump?  Yikes.
Okay, I'll stop.  But nothing has me making lists more than having a baby.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Real World

Sometimes we convince ourselves that the world of the internet is actually real, don't we? Our life can be captured so perfectly with cameras- but we only take the shots we want to.  Case in point:

It was a lovely fall morning: crisp, rainy, a bit dreary.  We had invited friends to do some fall crafts.  What was I picturing in my mind?  Hot coffee, warm & spicy starbucks pumpkin bread, beautiful pinterest button tree decorating, quiet gluing and painting, thoughtful conversation, and a cozy delightful morning.

{Forget that this endeavor was going to involve a 1.5 year old, two 2-year-old twins and my 3.5 year old}. 

This is what I was picturing:
See how I did that?  I took pictures BEFORE children were involved.  BEFORE.  See how I set the stage? The children were conveniently outside the room watching Bob while I got ready for our visitors.  Looks like it's real, right?  Tricky, tricky.  

But what this morning REALLY looked like was:
interrupted conversations
children throwing glitter pieces on the floor
an incident with a sharpie and our dining room table
potpourri flying
a toddler finding my stool softeners and deciding to give them a try (turns out they taste awful)
cold coffee
blown out candles
potty runs
glue on table tops
mixed up craft supplies
crying, gnashing of teeth...you get the point

But hey, it was memorable, and the kids made a craft (which was the point right?):

 

I have to laugh.  Cause this morning was an exact snapshot of life as a parent.  "Best laid plans" and the reality to follow...  I think 3 years ago I would have had a meltdown, or a fit, or fallen apart at the seems to see my precious morning go to the riot squad. However, I think I've grown {insert self applause here}.  I'm learned to go with the flow, and remind my expectations that they don't really belong in this chaotic world. Kids are messy, every day is an adventure, and real life happens in a sea of interruptions and imperfections. And without those things, where would good stories come from? 

But, I'll keep pretending, like the rest of this culture that in fact, I did exactly what I set out to do this cozy fall morning and made a pinterest-worthy craft.  {But, you'll know the truth, and so will I.  This craft was a barely-pulled-off miracle in a morning full of mishaps and disasters!}








Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Journey into Motherhood: Reframing our Experiences

For any moms out there whose pregnancy, birthing, or postpartum experiences were anything but the ideal, this post is for you.  But, if you are the Mom who had it all- a glowing pregnancy, a quick and natural delivery, and an easy-as-pie recovery with an easily breastfeeding baby, please still read on.  I want to discuss what it might mean to re-frame how we talk about the journey that is new motherhood.  


I don't know if it's media, or if it's social media or what it is, but we certainly idealize the transition of a woman into motherhood.  There's the beautiful baby showers, the cute baby clothes, the incredible family photos... there is certainly some kind of pressure to have the best experience.  And I am no less guilty of perpetuating this false idea by the images I post and the experiences I share.

Thing is, most of us will most definitely experience something other than that image. Maybe it's that every day of pregnancy we are living in a cloud of nausea that we cannot escape from.   Maybe they found 'something' on the ultrasound and you're living with the anxiety and fear of the child's safety instead of enjoying the pregnancy. Maybe you're like me and there are risks involved with your pregnancy that need you to be monitored closely.  For me- I need to have daily injections that bruise and burn my belly.  

Maybe the delivery was agonizing, terrible, and just shy of horrific.  Maybe your baby was rushed to the NICU and you spent the first weeks of motherhood in un-washed clothes, taking vigil by your little one's side instead of walking your baby in a stroller with a latte in hand.  

Or maybe you're like me and you tried two times to have a natural delivery, only to have to go through the trauma of a long labor and emergency C-section both times.  Maybe you're like many women I know and breastfeeding was so challenging, painful, and emotionally draining that you just couldn't do it anymore and felt ashamed because you couldn't breastfeed your child and had to use formula.

The list could go on.  

Thing is, I wonder sometimes if we are truly idealizing the least important aspects instead of being in awe of the journey through it ALL no matter what all the details really look like.  So what if I had a C-section?  So what if your child was formula fed?  So what if you gained 40 more pounds than they said you should? Does any of this make us less able to mother?  Why do we judge ourselves so harshly?  Or each other? I was so distraught over my own disappointments that it set me up to be the least confident and most insecure new Mom- hurtling me straight for despair and disillusionment. Confidence should not be won or lost because of situations we could hardly control.  

This is just not how it should be.  

I think about my impending decision this time around.  The big question remains "will I try for a V-bac again, or will I just have a pre-booked C-section."  And again I'm left to cycle through the emotions of my last two traumatic labors.  I'm sad, devastated, and confused about how I could do so many things 'right' but end up with the same outcome. I feel like I just couldn't cut it as a woman because I couldn't just 'try harder' and do what my body's supposedly 'made to do.'  I certainly experienced great joy and relief in the birth of both my children, but I feel kind of robbed from the fullness of that joy because I was too busy mourning the loss of an experience I didn't have.  I feel fresh sorrow when I try to relate to women who seem to 'have it all' and I am left to wonder why my experiences were so challenging.  

The challenges didn't end with the delivery.  My incisions weren't healing properly and the recovery from the C-sections were very hard physically.  I went on to develop thyroid complications both times leading to incredible insomnia, anxiety and postpartum depression (both times).  It takes me a solid 8 months before I start to bounce back.

But the real tragedy, I'm beginning to believe, is that none of this should be a tragedy at all.  Maybe the problem right from the beginning is that I never expected hardship like that, when I should have.  I believed the lie that transitioning to motherhood is all Anne Geddes, smiles, and cuddles.   I believed that it would be 'picture-perfect' and that the majority of women have it pretty good, and so would I.  I mean look at hollywood?  All these beautiful people with beautiful children and beautifully easy lives.  And then there's facebook...

But I'm here to de-bunk the myth.  

Not to strike fear, not to remove the joy and profound wonder that is becoming a Mom, but to let other Moms know- we have got to start creating an accurate picture of what the transition to new motherhood is really like to new Moms.  Maybe the focus should be less on the highs in our experiences and more on the incredible journey of it all.

I would love to have a natural delivery. However, so many obstetrician's tell me that it's not a good idea to try, considering the events leading up to my two C-sections were so incredibly similar.  Part of me wants to believe that it will be different this time, that if I just try and breathe better, and be stronger, it will happen for me and I will get to join the ranks of 'normal' Moms.  Then I'll get to be in the cool 'vaginal delivery' club.  

But the other part of me is realizing that it's okay to understand that my body may not be capable of delivering babies.  It's okay to choose what might be the 'safer' route.  It's okay to be thankful that I was able to live and that my child was able to live - many women around the world in my same predicament would not have been so fortunate. And you know, it's okay that my story was rocked with hardship, that my journey into motherhood was fraught with incredible toil, poetic moments of beauty, and that my endurance could only be born of great difficulties.  It's okay.

I don't need to be ashamed, or consider myself 'less than.'  I don't need to cover up the story of my labors and say with a look of shame in my eyes "I had a C-section."  You don't need to hang your head low and say "he was formula fed."  We can stand tall and say that we braved many storms on our journeys into motherhood.  It wasn't easy.  It still isn't. But we're not giving up, we are loving our children through wastelands and jungles, and we are toiling and being changed by the worthiest of causes.

Can we start celebrating the joys AND hardships of new motherhood and stop idealizing the peak experiences?   Can we stop judging ourselves by what we couldn't do, and start rejoicing in what we could do?  Can we stop judging each other and instead learn to listen and be inspired by how every mother is sacrificing, enduring, and journeying through their own unique challenges?  Let's journey together instead of 'pinning' the best stuff and discarding the rest.

I hope one day we can show off our scars and war wounds as proof of a battle that we fought hard in.  "Look at this C-section scar?  See this Goiter I sport under my neck?  See the lines of worry in my forehead and the permanent bags under my eyes?  It was all part of my becoming stronger, it was all part of me fighting for my children with blood, sweat, and tears.  It was all proof that Mothers are not mothers because we have children, but because we choose to love them and raise them."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Church with Kids

Okay.  Does attending Church seem frustrating to any other mother with young kids out there?  Don't get me wrong, I love my Church.  I want to hear God's Word.  I want to participate in Worship, I want to be part of community.  Except, well, I can't.  With a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old, I can't quite remember when or if I've sat through a whole service.

It all begins with the babies.  They need to nurse, or they are crying, or they need to sleep.  So you're either hiding in the nursery to feed them, pacing in the lobby trying to get them to go to sleep, or you're shushing them and burping them, praying that they won't vomit on you in your seats.  Happily, you move out of that initial phase only to hit the morning nap stage.  Their nap always coincides with the service in some way. You have to sneak in late, sneak out early, or carry them strapped on all service while your back aches. 

Finally, they seem to be getting out of the napping stage only to need to transition to being in the nursery. And that takes weeks, or months.  Leaving them for greater increments in the nursery but inevitably having to rescue the nursery workers from their screaming and crying. It's a horrible but necessary transition.  Then, yay!  You think you're home free!  Enjoying a service- yes!  Oh, wait.  Then they are teething and won't go back.  Or the usual nursery worker isn't there so they won't go in.  Or you've been away for two weeks so they won't go back in.  

They finally seem to love the nursery but they're booted out to Sunday school and it's a whole new world of transition.  Meanwhile, they're also potting training so you have to stop in now and again to make sure they pee on the potty and not in their pants.

Enter baby #2.  And you're back at square one.

Then there's the stress of getting everyone out of the house in clothes that are in some semblance of cleanliness.  Showing up without spit-up on, or syrup smudges on your own clothes gets you bonus points. And of course, there's the inevitable starvation and fatigue that results from Church so that you go screaming out the front doors as soon as Church is over and you can't really connect with anyone anyways because your children are in full on melt down.  Need.  Food.  Now.

And is it just me, or does it seem that every time your child goes into Sunday school or the nursery, they come out with some new viral or infectious disease that you have to deal with for the next week until you do it all again?

I love my Church, I love all that they do for kids.  But one of these days I think I'm just gonna show up in pajamas and whatever state we are really in during the morning.  Or maybe J and I should just take turns going to a service in the morning.  Or maybe we should just wait until their all past the age of 5 and in the meantime just listen to the sermons online.

Anyone else feel like this sometimes?
Sigh.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The queasy pits

I forgot.  I mean, I completely neglected to remember that early pregnancy nausea is the pits.  I am literally hanging on by a thread, constantly wanting to hurl.  What is with the female brain?  How does one so conveniently not recall such challenging physical hardship? I even wrote down how nauseous I was with the previous two pregnancies but somehow I looked past it, "wouldn't it be nice to add to our family...?" Meanwhile, I am the walking dead.  I'm tired as soon as I'm vertical, I'm practically sleep-walking.  Then there's the need to eat constantly, trying to fight off the despair of the constant queasies.  

And of course, the needs of our current family march onwards.  Make dinner (gag).  Clean out the fridge (gag).  Stay in the bathroom for 10 minutes while two children stink up the place (gag).  I have to run in and out of the kitchen so that I don't, heaven forbid, get a good whiff of the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or the garbage can.  I was even found discarding perfectly good Tupperware into the trash because the mere thought of cleaning out the week old food in there and washing the dishes was enough to push me right over the edge.

This is insanity!

Take, for instance, a recent trip to Walmart   We were in desperate need of shoes for Silas as his have all literally fallen apart at the seams.  We also needed to buy some undies for Toby who has decided that this is the perfect time for potty training.  The boys had got a little rambunctious in the grocery cart and had careened into each other and were both screaming, Jason and I got separated, each with one screaming child, and somehow managed to stay totally lost from each other for a good 10 minutes.  What was I doing that whole time?  Literally hanging onto random merchandise stands with my head between my arms trying not to throw up.  I had to drag my sorry behind back and forth through the aisles, without resting Toby on my belly too long as the pressure alone made me sick, mentally screaming "I can't go on!"

Yes, my friends, when I'm pregnant I'm a real peach.  It really agrees with me.  I am a perfectly sane, beautiful, and glowing pregnant lady.  Meanwhile, I haven't showered because staying upright for a full 5 minutes sounds overwhelming and my house is a mess of crumbs and laundry.  Don't even ask me about shift work.  It's. Not. Going. Well. So, other pregnant Moms- I'm a haggard shell of the real Shannon right alongside you.  We'll get through it.  And don't expect high things from me world, I have little to bring other than the occasional groan, and dry heave.


[A serious aside: for those women out there who are longing to be a  Mom, or those who have lost a  child, or who desperately wish they could have a family of their own, please don't see this post as insensitive.  I bet each one of you would give your two good legs to feel nauseous because of being pregnant - forgive me for my above complaints.  I am deeply grateful for God's generosity towards us and I do imagine what it would be like to not even be given the chance.  I can't imagine the struggle you must face in reading a post like mine. I'm praying for peace in your circumstance, patience in your waiting, and for renewed hope.]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall News

I couldn't tell anyone for awhile so I actually wrote this post a few months ago and it's been tucked away as a draft since then.  

You guessed it.
That's right.
Uh huh.
This is going to happen.

We will be a family of 5.

As soon as I found out, I was simultaneously full of joy and then scared and in shock.  Even though we had been hoping to get pregnant, I was still in dis-belief.  I took multiple pregnancy tests.  Yup, still two lines.  Te actual weight of reality took time to sink in.  We're really doing this!  Seriously?  Is this happening?  Or wait, it's already done.  We'll need a van!  Oh.  We'll need a van. We definitely need the boys to sleep in the same room.  I have to start finishing things (oxymoron).  That quilt?  I gotta get wicked fast stitching fingers.  I have to talk to the doctor.  Right.  I will need to have injections daily again. Ummm, k.

Breathe.  Stop. Making. Lists.

We are blessed, we are in wonder, we are back in the seat of being vulnerable.  A new life.  Will my patience increase or will I go crazy?  Given my last blog post, I'm not sure. Will my capacity expand to meet the demands or will I be torn into 100 million pieces? What if the child is a girl, will I spoil her?  What if it's a boy, will my house literally fall apart at the seams from the running and jumping?  What if this child has a disability, what if I have a stroke in pregnancy, oh my goodness, did I take my folic acid....?

Vulnerable.  Completely in awe, slightly terrified, and so full of a sense of right-ness that our family is continuing to grow. Five feels right.  (For now).  Five is us.   My heart is still thinking and dreaming of adoption, and that might yet come.  But in the meantime, we will love, we will learn, we will cry, we will accept and we will praise God for all He brings.

"Every good and perfect gift comes down from God in heaven."  James.
Due March.

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