Thursday, April 28, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

I am joining in again even though I posted pictures yesterday too.

{pretty}
I love the altar at our parish decked out for Easter. The music, the flowers, the little ones in their finest clothes, the incense, it all seems so joyful I just want to shout "He is Risen!"

{happy}
It makes me happy to bring a little of that joy home to share with my family.

{funny}
Leave it to Joseph to come up with all kinds of new uses for his Easter basket.

{real}
Because of the rain, Grandma's famous Easter Egg Hunt had to be brought indoors. 400+ eggs filled with candy hidden throughout our little home. Also, reality set in when I noticed in almost every Easter picture of sweet Gabe he is wearing just his onesie. He fell asleep and then made a mess of himself at dinner before I got a single picture of him in his tie. Oh well! It just means he has to wear it again, preferably on a sunny day so I can get a good shot :)

For more contentment visit:
tiny blog chickens2-2

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Photo Parade

My kids before bloody noses and Easter candy spoiled their Sunday best. Thanks for the duds, Grandma.
Almost a great family shot, if only Juju would have turned around. Eight people, one fraction of a second. It just seems impossible to capture.

Joseph is loving his new cars and carrier. Never have I seen anyone with such a fascination for wheels. I worry about him at sixteen :)

Here she flashes that sweet smile so elusive earlier. She loved her yellow dress, and a highlight of my Easter was hearing her squeal with delight as her egg came out of the dye a vibrant shade of her favorite color. She liked that magic trick a lot. She did not, however, get the concept that if she banged the egg on the table it would break.

My sweet Sophia, ever the princess.

My Bear, flashing her prettiest smile.

When did these girls grow so big? Banana wore shoes that made her mom envious. They were so cute, and too grown up. She's still supposed to be my little girl...
If it was hard to capture our little family of eight, trying to get 13 cousins to stop for a picture after being ramped up on Easter candy and wound up from Grandma's Easter Egg Hunt was impossible. 42 pictures and this is as good as it gets.

Our bunny cake, absent last year because I was too busy, made his return this year. Aunt Missy sure enjoyed it!

I much prefer carrot cake.

Still My Favorite Easter Picture

Seriously, nothing says Easter like a scary, baby-snatching bunny. How much do you think poor Gabe's therapy sessions will cost us?

This Isn't What I Signed Up For

Do you ever have those moments? Those moments where you think to yourself this is not what I thought life was going to be like? I always knew I would be a stay at home mom. Yes, there was a brief time in college I aspired to be a great chemist, researcher, then a great humanitarian, then perhaps a botanist. Really, though, I knew those were only grand schemes in my mind, and that I had been called to raise a family. Still, in many moments of chaos, diapers, mud, and messiness, I've wondered about this calling.

I also can distinctly remember a time, early in my homeschooling years when I came huffing through our back door, slamming it rather heavily, all the while letting poor dh know there was a reason I NEVER considered elementary school teaching as a career. Still, I knew I was called to homeschool as well.

This morning I had another of those moments. It is important to remember this all happened while I was making my morning cup of coffee, and had not yet had a chance to drink said coffee. I had all the kids happily (after 10 minutes over bickering about who got the last of the sugary Easter cereal) eating breakfast. It was finally almost quiet. I poured the water into the coffee press, went to set the timer, then I heard a thud, a pretty loud thud. I wondered what had fallen, what mess there was to clean up. Then the girls tell me it came from the back door.

It turns out a poor little bird flew into our back sliding doors, then promptly fell on the back doormat. It heaved a few heavy breaths-- and died. DIED! Right there on the door mat. All six of my kids watching the poor thing...

After the shock wore off I realized the dog was going to have to go out. I also realized the dog, who had watched the bird, was already curious about the ball of feathers on the doorstep. It then hit me that I was going to have to dispose of the bird.

In my bathrobe, ugly shoes, unkempt hair, (when did I get so old?) I went outside. I found the snow shovel, walked around the house, past the school kids walking, waved to a neighbor praying she would not come to say hello, and made my way to the back door. By this time most of the kids had abandoned the cereal that had earlier seemed such a treasure, and now had their noses pressed to the back door.

As I attempted to get the poor creature onto my snow shovel (a task that should have been easier), I hear chanting from my girls indoors... "Be a man, Mom! Be a man!!" That, my friends, is certainly not my calling. Disposing of dead birds, or any dead creature, before coffee, or ever, is also not my calling.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

I had been planning this post all week, then this morning, when I saw Leila's post, I felt we must've had very similar weeks, although she has better pictures to show for it.


{pretty}

No Lenten picture post would be complete without a daffodil. In this house we refer to them by the old-fashioned name Lent lilies. Little bits of sunshine in our Lent.


This prettiness was too much for me too. This little girl has the sweetest smile.



{happy}

My rhododendron are in full bloom for Easter. I was worried they would blossom too early, and then when the Spring storms hit earlier this week, I worried all their blooms would be blown off the bush and scattered through the yard.


Having this picture makes me happy. It gets the action of my little scooter-- he refused to crawl. He is almost always walking now, so I am so happy to have captured this moment of his baby days.


{funny}

I had to get this shot of our one lone purple phlox in a sea of pink. Don't you feel like that sometimes? I have lately. I feel like that one, single, little flower that somehow is different. This picture reminds me of the beauty in being a little different.


How is it such little ones pick up so fast on their parent's mannerisms. Here little Gabe is clearly telling a story in much the same fashion his mother would. The hand adds such emphasis :)


{real}

This is a sink full of dirty lunch dishes. It seems washing dishes by hand was God's plan for our Holy Week (like Leila, I'm doing my best not to complain). Thankfully, the repairman came late yesterday, so we have a working dishwasher in time for company this weekend.


Isn't it amazing how a camera can take that mess, blur it, and make it almost pretty? If only we could learn to have eyes like that. To blur the troubles and focus on the half full glass.


For more pictures see:
IMG_8896-3

Thursday, April 14, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

IMG_8896-3

Joining with Like Mother, Like Daughter on their new picture thoughts couldn't have come at a more appropriate time for me. My new camera loves this idea :)

{Pretty}

Spring has finally arrived (on some days). Sunday, while children happily played in the backyard, I snapped this picture of Easter flowers from years past lovingly planted by dh. They remind me Easter is fast approaching! I only wish I could capture the fragrance.


{Happy}

This little boy likes nothing more than to sit in that swing and be pushed over and over again. It makes me smile to see such a sweet boy content and laughing.



{Funny}

What do you think she sees?


{Real}
Despite how much he enjoyed the swing, Gabe has had a tough go of things since his round of shots late last week. He might be getting a few new teeth too. All of this has led to some serious bouts of fussiness the last few days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mom's New Toy

Please forgive me if for a few weeks my blog turns into a picture book. After months of hemming and hawing, a new camera arrived in the mail for me courtesy of dh. For the next few weeks, the amateur (and by amateur I mean a complete novice pretending to know what she is doing as she wields her new fancy-shmancy shiny new camera with knobs and buttons she knows absolutely nothing about) photographer in me will be in full force, driving those around me crazy as I snap another shot. If I am going to drive my family nuts as I try every new feature on my camera, it seems only fitting you, my blog friends, should have to be subjected to the results...
I love Gabe's big hugs. Here he has a special one for Daddy who deserves such squeezes for buying Mom such a nice camera, for doing all the research to pick said camera, and for mopping the kitchen floor.


This picture just makes me smile. My frilly, girly, sweet Bophie in favorite pink twirly skirt (now ripped from playing outside) in her muddy boots. Somehow it encapsulates that little girl's personality.
Here two little monkeys are hanging out watching Mom snap more and more pictures.

Some of them had their fill of pictures, others hammed it up and couldn't get enough of them :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Turning Three

This has been a busy week for us. I think five dentist appointments and eight doctor visits in four days qualifies for a little more than busy. Throw in piano lessons, first soccer games of the season, a trip to an indoor waterpark and I think I could call this week's schedule downright hectic. It doesn't let up over the weekend either. Despite the busy-ness yesterday we celebrated Joseph's third birthday.

Joseph loves anything with wheels so when I found this kit on clearance at the grocery store after Christmas, I knew it would be a hit. It was as fun to decorate as last year's monkey cake. Little Joseph didn't know what to make of it though, I don't think he realized it was cake. In the end I had to just give him a slice of the traditional cake I had also made.


Joseph is a race car kid. He falls asleep running them on his pillow, he wakes up and gathers them and tries to carry more than his hands will hold. He lines them up, he crashes them, and recently he has learned how to send them driving across the room. The first time I pulled out the race car jammies he wouldn't take them off. I think he wore the shirt almost three days before I decided it absolutely had to go in the wash. The race car ramp seems to be a hit too. He was up before the crack of dawn this morning ready to shoot the cars down the ramp. I'm pretty certain he's figured out that at 4:30 A.M. he can pretty much have the toys to himself. I've figured out that no amount of coffee will make 4:30 A.M. any easier.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Third B-day Joseph!

Everything's been different,
All the day long.
Lovely things have happened,
Nothing has gone wrong.
Nobody has scolded me,
Everyone has smiled.
Isn't it delicious
To be a birthday child?
--Rose Fyleman

It's becoming rather standard for us to celebrate birthdays late. Today is no exception. Five dentist appointments, piano lessons, opening Spring soccer games, not to mention a full day of school, leave today too busy. Cake and presents tomorrow... still I think Joseph has had a fun-filled, if not hectic, birthday.

Wordless Wednesday

Clean Teeth Edition
Gabe is so excited there were no cavities!




Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Decision to Adopt Again Part 2

After beginning discussions, we decided to put all adoption talk on hold until after our Christmas break. I had enough on my plate and I wanted to enjoy our break. I also was really struggling with how to handle our current household chaos. We spent our holidays brainstorming ideas to help me manage it all, to help me get some more sleep, to help the kids get school back on track, etc. The strategies we put in place made a world of difference. Despite getting sick for almost the whole month of February, I felt like I had things more under control.

Then we had Joseph's last post adoption visit with our social worker. We knew we wanted to ask a few questions about the possibility of adopting again, and despite the utter humiliation of that evening, we did start the conversation. Our social worker told us the most important thing we could do would be to keep our homestudy current. She explained that as the expiration date came closer, we would be notified it would expire unless we began the update process. She didn't have our paperwork with her so she wasn't sure when that date would be.

As with so much of all our adoption journeys, God's timing and opening of doors has been amazing, the very next day in the mail was our letter informing us we needed to begin the update. At this point, however, I was concerned it was pointless to update. Our homestudy had originally been completed almost six years ago for Juju's adoption, and after six years there is no option to update you simply start over. Because of this, we set the letter aside. I distinctly remember dh and I having a conversation about not wanting to start all over and he said, "If this is God's plan somehow the homestudy will work itself out."

Again God's timing was perfect, the day after that conversation the homestudy agency called to ask if we planned to update. I told her my concerns about our six years being right around the corner. She put me on hold, grabbed our paperwork, and came back on the phone and told me our homestudy was not quite two years old. It seems when we switched agencies between Juju and Joseph's adoption, while they only charged us for an update, it was easier for them to simply write a whole new homestudy. We still had four years to use our current homestudy if we updated it. When she said those words, I had an incredible sense that this was God's way of letting us know he was opening the doors for this adoption.

I had really struggled in our conversations about another adoption. My heart wants to bring home more and more of these precious children, but my body is tired. I wanted to be sure we were really able to handle another little one right now. Were we making the right financial choices? Were we getting in over our heads? Could we be open to another adoption, but just wait 3-4 years?

I have learned that dh has a grace from God to lead our family and oftentimes he is able to cut through all the back and forth and navigate a course for us. He knew this adoption and the timing were right. How blessed I am to have such a wonderful, Godly, generous husband. He prayerfully determines this course and truly works hard at providing every tool necessary for getting us there. He knew the timing was right and he relied on God's providence to work out the details. God used him and that unsuspecting woman from the homestudy agency to remind me to be at peace about this process.

That phone call, of course, changed everything. We needed to get a jump start on the update paperwork as some of the paperwork could take 30-60 days to get back and everything needed to be completed prior to the two year date.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Our Decision to Adopt Again Part 1

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." ~ David Platt (h/t to an old friend for posting it on Facebook)

During the Christmas season, we got an email from our adoption agency regarding a change in Chin*'s adoption policy that might allow us to adopt another little one using our old paperwork. We had thought we would never be able to adopt there again because we already have six children, so this was a surprise to us. While that opportunity wasn't for our family, in our conversations we were told that some family size exceptions are made-- especially for those open to special needs children. We suddenly started asking ourselves questions we had pushed aside because of our understanding of the adoption rules.

It surprised me how open both dh and I felt to another adoption. For many months we have both felt we had hit maximum density here. We are both stretched so thin, and the sleep deprivation has had us practically delirious at times. Quite frankly, there had been little time to give another adoption serious thought. We have had our hands full dealing with life with so many little ones. I think we knew we'd consider adoption again, we just thought that it was in the distant future.

Then we both read a book called "Silent Tears" which detailed one woman's volunteer efforts in an orphanage in China. We also follow this blog of a group caring for special needs orphans in China. We were both struck by the thought that some of these children wouldn't make it through the winter because of the conditions in which they live. They wouldn't make it through the winter...

I admit I'm stressed. I wonder sometimes how I will accomplish everything I need to do in a day. I worry about laundry, and piano lessons, schoolwork, soccer practice, a clean house, dinner on the table, the list goes on and on. But, these children aren't warm. They have to wonder if there will be a next meal, a blanket, someone to comfort them. No matter what my concerns and worries are, they just simply pale in comparison. Somehow my stress just doesn't compare to a little one languishing in an orphanage with no family. No, we can't help all of them, but could we help one more?

So we began the conversation...