Monday, April 21, 2014


Yikes. I am stunned to realize I haven't been here in four months. The days are long and the years are short, right!?

I feel like we are running a marathon at a sprinter's pace. We've rushed to complete (or at least get a good start) on about a million house projects. And there are a million more. This is, after all, the "I love stress house." (So named by The Engineer.)

We had a wonderful and quiet Christmas. The grands were here for Christmas day and mama joined us shortly thereafter.

Christmas afternoon my MIL and I began emptying the girls' bedroom into their bathroom…and then we moved downstairs to the living room and began taking down the tree and packing Christmas into tubs, which were promptly hauled back up to the attic. And then we emptied the rest of upstairs. What wouldn't fit in bathrooms, we squeezed into the living room and entrance hall.

December 26th found our living room in a very pregnant state…we even fit the guest bed and crib in there! (And we EVEN had guests sleep in the guest bed IN the living room!)

My MIL had begun the wallpaper stripping the week after our littlest (I've got to figure out a blog name for her…) arrived. A few days postpartum, I was helping strip wallpaper. Because it was everywhere. Our babysitter helped strip wallpaper. Our dear friends helped strip wallpaper. It was even on the ceiling!!! My nails are still splitting/peeling from the damage months of stripping wallpaper caused.

And then we repaired plaster…and caulked…and primed…and painted.

And then we stripped the floors. And repaired the floors. And made a hasty stain decision. (Don't EVER, EVER, EVER rush the stain decision!) And speculated in vain hope that a coat of poly would make things better. So…the next morning the floors looked like someone coated them with cherry coke plus red food coloring. I cried. The Engineer was gracious and told me not to "worry your pretty little head about it." We decided to strip 'em again and do it right. And that, my friends, is love. We did have a few, ahem, discussions.

Our poor children went to sleep for weeks to the hum of a floor sander and then to hand sanders as we stripped the edges and corners…and the rustle of plastic as we passed back and forth through the "dust barrier." OH. MY. It was quite an ordeal. What doesn't kill you (your marriage!) makes you stronger, right!? Ha! Roughly six weeks after we began…six weeks of three children sleeping in the living room…we finished. And it was worth every minute! The floors are beautiful!!! (I can't wait to do the downstairs!!! And we WON'T make a hasty stain decision EVER again!) (And we hadn't pulled an "all-nighter" since the night before our old house went on the market. Whew!)

Side note: We'd mentioned needing to dissect a cow's heart to some friends… who happen to be adventurous chefs…who at the last minute invited us for a little pre-tartare dissection. (We left well before tartare was prepared, but we did take home a little sliver, which I prepared per instruction and the children each tasted during dinner!)

The dissection was incredibly interesting. Learning about the way God creates our physical hearts…and a cow's heart…amaze me.

So back to the floors…we finally have quarter round down in about half the upstairs. The rest is just stacked in the guest room, only it's so long it spans the width of the room. I felt bad for recent guests as they tripped over the stack multiple times. We lack any form of window covering in the guest room. The boys' room still retains the original urine yellow mini blinds…which constantly gawk at me. But alas, paying cash is a beautiful thing. It's all on the list. And we will get to it, Lord willing, eventually.

We're also working on storage cabinets in the garage…and our bathroom is still at the half-way point. The guest bath is in rough shape! We had a four year old guest ask to use the bathroom. She stood in the doorway and said, "I'll just hold it." Ha ha ha. OH my. And we have lots of trim half painted. All in good time. The progress, however slow it feels, is encouraging! I've posted lots of pics of our progress via instagram (wantingwhatihave).

This baby girl is such a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful gift. The children frequently ask, "Mama, how did we EVER live without her?!"

She is simply the most loved, kissed baby ever! And she will soon, very soon, have a new brother joining her.

Meet our precious baby boy. He was one on valentine's day!!! Words fail me. I never dreamed - not in a million years - we'd be here.

He and baby girl are only six months apart and will be in the same grade! (Though she would be the baby of the grade, so we will see…) Just…well, the circumstances surrounding all of this…trying for so long, feeling that pull at our hearts but seeing all doors close, the peace and contentment God gave us right where we were…and then bam! Pregnant! And all seemed well…12 weeks of ultrasounds weekly…the prediction of a routine, normal pregnancy…only to eventually be slapped with the reality of loss.

The pull, the desire, it remained. The Engineer was ready to begin the process of adoption, but only if I was. Finally, after nearly a year of trying and trying and praying and praying, my heart was there. Ready. And we began. And you already know the story.

We started the process, only to learn God was knitting a precious little one together in my womb. And we knew - there really wasn't any discussion, simply affirmation from one to the other, that we were still called to adopt. That we still wanted to adopt. And so we proceeded.

We were matched in the fall and just last week, we got the call we've been waiting for! "Travel Approval." We leave for China in a few weeks. And we are scrambling. Running hard, on adrenaline and excitement.

We are taking the older two and I think my heart might break in half when we say goodbye to the younger two. I'll be nursing baby girl right up until I step foot on that plane. (Any tips on flying and pumping, etc. welcomed!!!) I'm hoping she will miss me as much as I miss her and upon our homecoming, we can fall right back into rhythm. We'll see. I'm thankful God is sovereign and the timing of everything is no surprise to Him and I can rest in that.

I don't know how we will manage when we get home. An eight month old and a fourteen month old?! But I am confident that when He calls, He equips. He is faithful and good. He doesn't change like shifting sand. His grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning. I'm leaning hard on these truths and preaching the Gospel to myself. He is sovereign and that is a beautiful, wonderful encouragement.

My heart is aching for our boy right now - oh, yes, to hold him, but even more than that, his world is about to be rocked. He's about to be thrust into the arms of a family who doesn't look or smell or talk like anyone or anything he is familiar with. His world is about to be shattered. We're praying God is preparing his heart…and ours. 

We made an impromptu decision to leave town a few weeks ago. We hadn't been away non work-related in two years.

It was a nice change of both pace and scenery. We worked ahead in school and packed up what we hadn't completed and barely did any of it. We studied things more along the lines of mud fighting (physics), map making (cartography), bleaching animal bones in peroxide (chemistry/biology), hiking (PE), drawing (art), and a lot of reading.

The Engineer and I worked feverishly to complete adoption training and I had a little freelance job to wrap up. I'm not sure why, but relaxing was really hard during this time away. The kids did great, but The Engineer and I struggled to just relax.

I felt disconnected…like I wasn't all "there." I hear that's not unusual in the latter stages of adoption. There is still that lingering sense that someone is missing. And he is. So anyway…we did have fun and it was nice to be away just us.

We celebrated twelve years of marriage in January and our thirty-third birthdays in March, during our time away. These are sweet years.

The older three are playing soccer this spring. Little Man scored 3/4 goals at his last game. Sister is loving the game and the friendships even more. And Little Bit, well, I think I've heard other parents refer to playing soccer at her age (4) as "herd ball." That about sums it up.

We are still homeschooling and it looks like we'll continue on that path next year. We'll see what the summer holds and how we adjust as a family of seven. For now, I can't imagine our days any other way. (I NEVER thought I'd say that.)

Baby girl has two teeth and seems to be working on more.

I bought a stack of boy fabric last week and am working on making shorts and pajama pants for our newest little guy. The sewing bug has bitten again - it's been a while! And it's so fun!

Currently there's a crib and bedding and a mattress sitting in our entry hall…it's crazy how the Lord provides. My sister helped me get in touch with a sweet local girl who was wanting to give her crib, etc. to an adoptive or foster care family…and she gave it to us!!! We are so thankful! (Thanks, MC!)

So we'll have two cribs set up - one in the boys' room and one in the girls' room. Crazy!!!

I love this picture! She was SO excited about giving her bro his birthday gifts.

The Engineer made an awesome bow for Little Man.

Look at the delight on his face!

Oh the arrows he's already lost…mostly because he's convinced he'll successfully take out a bird. He's not quite there, yet.

This was his first shot! Not bad at all!!!

Love this boy, love our family. It's wild and crazy. It hit me recently, that we really only have a very short window of time together. Every day they are growing and getting bigger. One day, not too far off, they will be all grown up, Lord willing. And just like they grew up and started feeding themselves, and just like they grew up and started bathing themselves, and just like they grew up and started buckling themselves, Lord willing, they're going to grow up and fly the nest. Oh, I want to be faithful!

I hope you're doing well. I'm not sure when I'll be back…these people in my home need me constantly. And it's just a season. A very, very fleeting season. And I want to drink deeply. I miss this space. This time. But it is what it is and our days are rich and full. As Sister said, "It's a beautiful mess." (With a  little screaming and some fits, etc. thrown in!)

Hopefully I'll get to blog a little from China. We'd so appreciate your prayers - my heart will be stretched, half in China and half with my babies here. And please pray for our little guy, our "China brother." Pray God prepares his heart for the shock that is to come and pray God gives us wisdom and strength. Many, many thanks! Happy Monday, y'all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Well, Hello!

Hi. How are you? (smile)

We've had a little bit going on around here…you know…having a baby and stuff. And the ol' blog has obviously taken a backseat. But hey - we're finished with school until January and the children and I have spent the day in pajamas. We ate cookies for breakfast and are having a laid back kind of day in the very best of ways. There are legos EVERYWHERE. And ponies.

My precious baby girl is napping and wonder of wonders…I have a few minutes. And I want to spend them here. And my thoughts are so random and so streams of consciousness...

The first few days home from the hospital were pure bliss…and then I had a little complication fall into my lap (ha ha) that knocked me flat on my back for several days. And I did something I'd never, ever done before. I held our new baby nearly every second. She slept on my chest. I breathed her in. And she brought healing to a place in my heart I didn't know needed healing.

I was frustrated by the prospect of not being able to be up on my feet, caring for house and home (and was SO THANKFUL for my MIL!!). I complained to my mama and she kind of made me mad when she told me this complication was a gift from God and to enjoy the gift of being forced off my feet for a period of time. I didn't see it then. But I do now. I wouldn't trade those days of holding baby girl 24/7 for anything.

And those late night and early morning feedings…this go 'round, they were sweet. Priceless. Just…preciousness. I have treasured this season of motherhood like no other. I cannot believe it's taken me four births and a whole lotta heartache to come to a place of enjoying this phase and having a thankful heart.

Don't get me wrong…I totally have my days of tears and "I can't do this!" and "What have we done? We are crazy! I need to put the children in school - NOW!" And God is merciful and His grace, sufficient.

Four is keeping me on my knees. Daily I feel my temper about to spill over and I have to preach the Gospel…I cannot be patient. I cannot be gentle. I cannot answer this question for the umpteenth time without losing it. But Christ in me can be patient. And gentle. And can answer tenderly. 

And of course there are a lot of days (multiple times a day) when I do just lose it. And it's so ugly. And sometimes my heart's so hard it takes a while for the Holy Spirit to break through. 

I hope and pray that in these days of crazy…amidst my failures and shortness…that somehow God is glorified and my children see Jesus.

November was a sweet month…we made a trip home to say goodbye to my precious grandmother. (My dad's mom.) She'd been sick with dementia and then alzheimers for a number of years. It was precious to get to see her one last time. She wasn't aware of our presence, but it was good to hold her hand and lean in close and to whisper to her that I was holding her eleventh great-grandchild, who is also, in part, her namesake. And it was amazing to grieve with hope. 

I spent Monday nights with my grandparents during my freshman and sophomore years of high school…I will always treasure that time with them. That's when my grandmother and I had some deep conversations and that is when my love for her was cemented. And so it was an honor and joy to hold our baby girl close to Bongoo and to whisper those things in her ear…and again, to grieve with hope. 

My children blessed me incredibly during that time. They, too, held her hand and talked to her and were very comfortable. We spent a few minutes praying for her and they asked if when she died, would she see our babies in heaven. And that about undid me.

I've been humbled and amazed by how much our children adore our new baby. Like…they just LOVE her.

I've never, in all his six years, heard Little Man speak with such gentleness and affection.

Little Bit loves her…well…roughly. Thank goodness babies are resilient!

The pictures above and below are pretty accurate representations of what happens when the youngest two hang together. The thing is, Little Bit really loves her new sister…she's just rough. Really. Rough. 

With number four, I am doing everything I said I'd never do…she sleeps in a cradle in our bedroom! I haven't left her in the nursery during church or Sunday school...

I haven't wanted to move her up to her crib…because I feel pretty sure this will be the last season of having a baby and getting to spend this kind of snuggle time with a baby…at least until my girls have babies, Lord willing. 

And there was this little issue, about moving her up, that made me a tad nervous. We have, ahem, had, this pet spider…named Charlotte. She lived in the window in our guest room. Every night she would creep out from the opening where the rope and pulley are fastened. She kept a tiny web in the corner of the window and well, over the course of the last year and a half, we'd become quite fond of her. We think she was a southern house spider. So anyway…something about putting my helpless baby to bed in a room with a big ol' black spider - regardless of how fond we'd become of her and how non-threatening she's supposed to be, was unnerving. 

So we poisoned the spider. And I'm a little bit sad. I keep peeking in to see if just maybe she's been hiding. Alas, I haven't seen her and her web hasn't returned. 

And my MIL started peeling wallpaper…and what do you know!? Three months later and we have two rooms and one ceiling stripped of wallpaper, almost all the plaster repaired, and a good bit of the two rooms painted. 

One can barely navigate the hall upstairs. It's a total wreck and is currently housing a bed and lots of furniture! There are bits of wallpaper clinging to the steps. It's a mess. And the beat goes on.

Ok…now let's talk about Amazon Prime. Um. Hello. Do you know about this? 

Let's rewind about six or so months. I was grossly nauseated and pregnant. I dropped Sister at art and took the younger two with me to Lowes. All I needed was a filter for our fridge water dispenser. There were three employees in the appliance section…all helping one customer. I stood at the rack of filters, puzzled, trying to decipher their code while one child danced and cried about needing to potty. I couldn't figure out which filter I needed. We beelined for the bathroom…too late. The clock was ticking. I could't get any help. Art lessons were almost over. Still, I couldn't figure out which filter I needed. Finally two employees tried to help. They weren't sure either. I was done and called The Engineer - because he knows everything and can figure out whatever he doesn't know because he's a total genius. So while the Lowes employees kept looking, The Engineer figured it out and called me back with the right info. In the meantime, I arranged for someone else to pick up Sister from art. Finally I found the correct filter, sped to the front to pay, and rushed out the door to grab Sister…late. And I sweat when I'm under pressure like that. I was sweating. Put out. Annoyed. And the car smelled like urine. I was NOT a happy camper.

So when I learned water filters and a million other things, can be ordered on Amazon and for $70/year every prime item ships "free" and is at my door in two days…I was sold. It takes two days to pack up four kids anyway. And so we joined. I'm never leaving the house again. 

Now let's talk about hair loss. Because (insert sarcasm) I know it's important to share things like this on the www. This is the fifth pregnancy after which I have had significant hair loss. Each time it's gotten worse. I have lost pretty much all the long hair on one section of my head and have only short, one inch strands in its place. I'm now parting my hair on the opposite side. This is taking a LOT of getting used to. And my hair…it hurts. Seriously. The dermatologist says the follicles are swollen and the discomfort will go away eventually. 

I really, really miss my hair. 

Mama turned SIXTY in October! We surprised her with the best ever weekend get-away at a friend's lake house. 

My sweet Aunt made the fourteen hour trek to join us in celebrating Mama!

We returned to their old stomping grounds…saw the house they grew up in - their last name was STILL on the mailbox! It's been a mere fifty years! Not even kidding.

And then we escaped to the lake and lazed about and stayed up way too late and ate super well. I brought our newest and my baby sister brought her baby…it was a precious weekend celebrating Mama! (Love you, Mom!!!)

This little one rolled over a few nights ago!!! Say what!!!??? Stop it! This is happening too fast.

Let's touch on school. I've given up starting any earlier than nine. And so nine it is. Baby is four months old today. I seriously feel like I am just now getting my groove back. 

Yesterday morning, after The Engineer left, I sat on the floor and did some painting. Alone. In the quiet. It was dark outside. The children were all asleep. I listened to James White (check him out!) preach. And it was completely rejuvenating. 

During Thanksgiving week we spent time with those who'd not yet met our newest.

This included time with The Engineer's grands…our newest is also, in part, his paternal grandmother's namesake.

We are so blessed in that our children know both sets of his grandparents. 

Our time there was fun and quiet and relaxing.

And then we spent time with his maternal grandparents…and for whatever reason (I guess the distraction of four children during a much shorter visit?) I didn't pull out my big camera and don't have pictures of our time with them to share. (sad!)

Thanksgiving day was spent at Mama's…Little Man took out a turkey leg.

And bam, it's Christmas time!  I'm not sure when I'll be back on the ol' blog...

If not before Christmas, Merry Christmas to you and yours!!! xoxo