Throwback Thursday

I thought I’d dish up a little post and throw it back to October when I last posted– in the middle of the 30 Days blogging challenge I didn’t finish. Oops.

I attended a homeschool conference (BY. MYSELF. GLORY.) in mid-October and it was exactly the encouragement and push I needed. I had been schooling Ladybug and Stinkbug for a few months at that point and it still felt like a crazy juggling game to jump from Kindergarten reading to Second Grade math and back and forth and leap frog all over the curriculum map. I was exhausted and felt like I had no idea what I was doing. (So much for that $26,000 degree in Elementary Ed, I guess!)

I really needed to hear those speakers tell me to major on the majors and minor in the minors. Get the reading and the math done and it’s OK if that’s all we get to in a day. Relax and enjoy these moments with my little ones. I am thankful for that week, I came back with fresh perspective in my heart and Jenga in my bag for the kids. 🙂

Every year I feel like I’m on a roller coaster in October– click, click, clicking to the top and then WOOOOOOOOSH it’s holidays and busy times and visitors and cold weather and before I know it, I’m packing Christmas ornaments between layers of paper towels to be stacked in our tiny little apartment closet.

Even now, I think I forgot to get off the ride because HOW IN THE WORLD IS IT APRIL 9TH?!

Our attentions have been pretty adoption focused so far in 2015, as we glimpsed a new sweet face on our agency’s waiting child list in December and we were unofficially matched with a sweet little girl in eastern Europe! We’ve updated our homestudy and our USCIS clearance and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear that we are finally able to go and meet her! On February 4 we hit four years since we said yes in our hearts to this journey, so it feels amazing (and also agonizing!) to feel like the end is coming.

Well, that’s about it for life from October until now– home school, holidays, adoption, cooking food for my kids to complain about, and always… mountains of laundry.

Summa

We haven’t officially hit that day of Summer Solstice, but can we all agree, it’s summer?

School is out, the temps have soared and I remember, yet again, that I just don’t like summer. You can keep your Pinterest-pinned summer bucket lists, and your pool memberships, and your tanned legs. I’ll even give up my iced coffee. I just want some moderate fall or spring weather. Please.

We live in the land of no central a/c which means that you get hot and stay hot during June, July and August. Body odor reigns supreme on stifling buses and metros as you go about your daily business (I try to keep my business inside during the daylight hours for this reason!). You just have to go ahead and remind yourself that you’re gonna sweat. And sweat. And sweat. It’s two (sometimes three) shower a day kinda weather.

I had this romantic notion that if we could find an accessible outdoor pool to spend some time enjoying, summer would feel better. I grew up in a club pool each summer– days spent chasing and swimming and snacking and falling into bed exhausted each night. I heard of one that was supposedly close by and we took off Tuesday to try and locate it. We should probably have gotten the hint when the GPS had no clue where we were trying to send it, but we pressed on. Off the highway, through some villages, over the bumpy faux roads, and past the groves of olive trees. And then we found it!

And the pool/water park is closed for renovations until further notice. Hmmmm. Why didn’t they renovate during the winter, you ask?

What a logical thought. (One I entertained myself even).

And then I remember that we live overseas. And it’s not always logical.

So, we inflated the balcony kiddie pool left over from last summer that has a gimpy side, and threw some popsicles at the kids, and called it a fun summer day.

What have you been up to this summer?

Dearest Lovebug

I wrote this post a year ago in April 2013. The words– and the heart behind them– are as true today as they were then. 

It is starting to drive us absolutely crazy that you aren’t here with us, baby girl! We had a few weeks recently of thinking we had found you, and our hearts quickly tumbled ahead of us with dreams and plans and excitement and joy and preparations… but alas, it wasn’t you. And so we came back to earth and we continue to wait.

Your brother (Stinkbug) and your sister (Ladybug) are tremendously anxious to meet you. Stinkbug points out the empty chair at our table and says that it’s where you’ll sit when you get here. He asks when you’re coming. Your sister prayed such sweet words at bedtime tonight, pleading with Jesus to bring you home quickly because she “doesn’t know what it’s like to have a sister and already has you in her heart”.

(Your smallest brother, Doodlebug, is two and a half and calls you “baby sister”, but has many other things to worry about right now like how to smear as much red mud on his jeans as possible before I make him come inside, and how to avoid big boy underwear at all costs. He’s kind of a handful. You’ll love him, I promise.)

I also find myself wondering about you. Each morning I wake up wondering if this will be the day your picture pops up on my screen and my heart shouts YES! THAT’S HER! ???? As full and messy and joyful as my life is now with three kids, I feel your absence constantly.

I wanted you to be with us last week when we went on vacation and were swimming indoors and stayed in a hotel all smooshed into two beds (It soundsmore picturesque than it was, thank goodness it was only two nights!) And we ate donuts for dinner one night (I know, baby girl! We are crazy sometimes, you’d better get used to it!) and I wondered– would you have picked the jelly-filled donut like your sister? Would you like chocolate milk or white milk to wash that donut down? Or maybe you don’t like milk at all?

When we hunted for Easter eggs a couple weeks ago, I wanted to see you chasing after your brothers and laughing with glee when you spotted a colorful treasure hidden in the grass. I wanted to see you in an Easter dress, spinning and twirling like all princesses should. I wanted to have a picture of us all dressed up and ready for church. I wanted you with us.

At dinner each night I wish I was setting another plate. Another cup. Another fork. Instead one chair stands empty.

I don’t know where you are now, and that’s almost too much for my heart to bear. I need you here beside me. In my arms. In your sister’s room. In our bathtub. At our table. In your Daddy’s lap during family worship each evening.

We love you, Ladybug. We pray for you every day– that God would protect you and provide all your needs and that He would bring you home quickly.

Because your family is waiting.

Today at the Park

The boys fell asleep during rest time today for the first time in weeks, and I rushed them awake at 4:30 knowing we were running out of sunlight and they needed to stretch their legs at the park.

I was slightly annoyed already. Husband is gone for the week, so I’m playing the single parent gig. And PMSing.

Doodlebug got out of bed at the mention of the park, pottied, and got shoes on like it was no big deal. (This is totally a big deal as parenting him lately has been total torture difficult.)

Stinkbug whined, complained, cried, and protested. He didn’t want the shirt I picked. He didn’t want to change out of his shorts. He didn’t want socks. He wanted his new shoes. He didn’t have to go potty right then. FOR. THE. LOVE.

I kept it together (for the most part), and warned him he was going to miss out on playtime. Then I ticked off the minutes he would sit out each time he complained or argued. Six minutes of time-out promised. More crying and complaining.

Finally. Out the door. To the park. I started a timer for Stink’s timeout and at first he watched the seconds tick down. Then he settled back on the bench. By the time the buzzer sounded, he crawled in my lap and announced he didn’t want to play. I tried to convince him to run, slide, chase, swing but he stuck to his guns. No playing today. Whatever, dude.

A few moments later an older lady was walking through the park and staring at Stinkbug. Like a little awkwardly. I worried that I knew her, but I could not for the life of me remember where I would know her from. When she was standing directly in front of me (still staring straight at Stink) she said, “I can’t stop looking at him. He looks just like my son did. My son had blond hair like this. He looked just like this.” She reached out and stroked Stinkbug’s hair and I swear she was somewhere else behind her clear eyes.

“He’s thirty eight now.” She shook her head as if to shake herself from the dream she was re-living. “The time passes so fast.” She said it more to herself than to me and gave Stinkbug one last pat before heading off into the fading daylight.

I felt my eyes filling with tears as I imagined my son as a thirty eight year old man with his own life, his own problems, his own family. I squeezed Stinkbug a little closer and breathed in little boy scent radiating off his sweet blond head.

The days can be hard (especially when my husband is out of town!), but I don’t ever want to wish this away. I don’t want to hold regrets in my heart when I see children playing on the playground near my house thirty years from now. I want to smile at the beautiful memories, laugh with fondness over the messiness of this find-your-shoes, i-need-to-go-potty, we-forgot-the-book-bag, can-i-have-a-snack season of life.

I’m thankful for a little perspective today. These kids? A gift without comparison. These days? Messy, but precious beyond description. These few years? Fleeting. Flying. Never waiting. Never slowing.

Birth Stories in Haiku

Ladybug ~ June 29, 2007

Nervous first time mom

Labor induced feeling scared

Nine pound baby girl 

Doodlebug ~ November 14, 2008

Very cold O.R.

Tugging– baby boy is born!

Yellow fuzzy hair

Stinkbug ~ October 7, 2012

Water breaks early

The nearness of God feels good

Precious dark-haired boy

Lovebug ~ Coming Soon!

Waiting is so hard

Wondering who, where you are

Praying you come soon

I saw this idea today– birth stories in Haiku (via Making Home via Conversion Diary) and I love writing Haiku poetry, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Can you Haiku?

I AM your servant

Sometimes I feel worn down by the monotony of motherhood. Of the requests, the needs of my children. Some days it feels like the demands will never end and I’m too tired to tie the shoes, make the beds, wipe the counters, play the games, clear the dishes, sweep the floors, kiss the heads, read the books, give the snacks, admire the artworks, teach the subjects, fix the broken toys, wash the clothes…

Sometimes that ugliness of sin that is ever-lurking just beneath the surface in the soul creeps up and I feel like I might choke on the loveliness of all the blessings around me. They don’t look like blessings anymore. And the narcissistic voice inside screams what about me? what I want and what I need? 

With shame I admit that I have uttered to my children, “Why are you asking me to do that for you? I am not your servant!”

Sometimes it’s their tone– demanding and demeaning. Sometimes it’s just the 856th request and I feel so spent on this whole thing. Reasons aside, I have justified this response to them feeling proud and unwilling to bend to their wishes if they have asked wrongly or if I just don’t want to give anymore.

Two mornings ago I heard one of my children ask their sibling to do something. Something easy and simple– a task of less than a minute. And the response?

I am NOT your servant!

And it broke inside me. The words echoed all around in a hauntingly familiar voice reminding me where they learned this mantra. Where they have seen the example– not of self-sacrificing service in love, but of demanding one’s own way/rights/time/wish/desire/convenience.

And then the Word came flooding in, washing over me with its truth…

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, [love] is not self-seeking…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

“…serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

How will my children ever learn that true loves serves and gives continually, sacrificing its own wants and needs for the good of another if I am setting this awful example of only serving them begrudgingly and at my own convenience?

How can I tell my children to love and serve one another and then turn around and tell them I can’t serve them because mommy’s busy/mommy has work to do/mommy has better things to do with her time/mommy is too tired/their request is beneath me/their request inconveniences me?

How can I give empty words to teach something that I don’t live out daily?

This is the motherhood I am called to– to lay down my life. Not just once, but over and over and over again. With each new day, with each new breath. With God’s help, I am teaching my children to love and serve others by loving and serving others myself.

By the Lord’s grace, I am changing my response to the requests of my children from I am not your servant.

I am your servant. I love you and I want to serve you.

The Book that Single-handedly Ended Preschool Drop-off Tears… and Almost Solved World Peace

At the beginning of the year Doodlebug started a Mother’s Morning Out program and he seemed to enjoy the activities his class did there, but he cried (read: weeping and gnashing of teeth) every time I dropped him off. It was hard. 

When we returned to our home, Hubby and I knew we wanted him to go to local preschool to learn the local language and make some friends. We knew this time away (three mornings a week) would be helpful to him but I found myself DREADING the drop off.

Enter the miracle drop-off book, Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.

Llama

We love Llama Llama Red Pajama and have read it to our kids since Ladybug was a tiny thing. It’s a cute story with a good rhythm and it’s just plain fun to read out loud.

I didn’t realize there were other llama llama books, but somehow through our move we obtained a copy of Llama Llama Misses Mama (if you’re our real life friend and it’s yours– sorry about that! But seriously, I owe you a coffee… or ten!)

Anyhow, the book is about little llama starting school and he’s so sad and misses his mama while he’s there. Then he starts realizing that school is fun and (SPOILER ALERT) his mom comes back to pick him up! Little llama learns is OK to love mama and school too.

I know, not real earth-shaking, right? Whatever man, it worked! Doodlebug and I have read the book probably 50 times in the past few months (hours on the potty during potty-training) and when we started dropping him off at his new school, we would talk about llama and how he had fun and then his mama came back. No tears! Absolute brilliance! Thanks Ms. Dewdney!

This morning I walked the boys to school and Doodle held up one finger asking me to wait while his teacher took his backpack and shoes off (yes, they wear slippers in school!) and then he ran over to me at the door and said, “Mama llama you come back?”

Yes, baby llama, Mama llama will always come back for you.

Don’t be that Mom…

Don’t be that mom who cuts the crusts off your kids sandwiches. Really. You’re just going to start something you don’t want to finish. You cut the crust off one time for one kid and all of the sudden you have three kids claiming to be allergic to their crust every single day, and needing immediate removal of said crust from their sandwiches. Don’t do it. 365 x 3 is not a pretty number when you start adding up the bread you will have to decimate in a year’s time. Don’t even get me started on boys who eat more than one sandwich.

Insist that the crust has the most nutritional value (I seriously disbelieve this myself, but have seen my husband use it with success on our offspring) and let your children know you care too much about them to take away their nutritional value.

And then eat your lunch in a different room, so they don’t see when you leave your crust on your plate. Ahem.

My Baby Girl is Six Today

Dear Ladybug,

Happy Mother's Day+ Two Days

What in the world…?! I can hardly fathom that you were placed in my arms six years ago today! I have so much I want to tell you, so much my heart wants you to know.

I want to tell you how beautiful you are. You have your own sense of style that just knocks me out. I miss picking your clothes out for you, but I love watching you try out your own combinations of outfits, rock cowboy boots with everything, add jewelry and accessories as you see fit. I love it. Keep rocking it girl, don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t have style.

witholivia

I want you to know I know how smart you are. I have been amazed as I’ve heard the vocabulary you’ve chosen to use sometimes! Your diligent persistence at reading this year has paid off and you’re doing amazingly! I love hearing you talk about and explain the world to your brothers and your knowledge about spiritual things is stunning. You have a big beautiful brain and you’re doing a great job exercising it, stretching it, and learning all you can about the world– you go girl!

It's only cosmetic...I love your sensitive heart. You sense needs in others that I’m not sure they realize themselves. I appreciate your willingness to help and serve.

I adore your smile, your laugh, your quickness to make a joke.

I think you are an awesome friend. You are fiercely loyal and very generous with those you hold dear.

I love that you love our family. You enjoy every moment with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousin. You are quick to point out how lovely it is to all be together. You love game nights, movie nights, hiking and all sorts of adventures with your dad, your brothers and me.

There are so many things I cherish about you, Ladybug. Thanks for being my daughter, myDSC_0133 sweet first gift from the Lord.

Love always and forever,

Mommy

But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)