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. ūüôā

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.

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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)

On Due Dates and Growing Up

Dearest Ladybug,

IMG_0434Today was your “due date” six years ago. (Let’s all notice that your sixth birthday is not for 13 more days making me a very uncomfortable, impatient lady six years ago…) As I reflect on the past six years I am blown away by how much you have changed. And how much I have changed as well.

Two days ago you got your ears pierced and as I watched you pinch your face up in IMG_1612anticipation of the moment, my heart ached. You looked so big and yet so small in that chair all by yourself. My eyes leaked a little (maybe it was slightly more than a little) because I was so proud and so sad all at once.

Motherhood is this whole big jumble of juxtaposition. I love having babies, and I want them to transition well to full-sized humanhood, but then I miss holding my sweet milk-breathed, soft skinned, fuzzy-headed, smelling-like-baby-wash little ones. I want you to grow up well and I’m so proud when you do things like write your name, share with your brothers without being asked, and graduate from Kindergarten. But then my heart breaks a little because it’s all too fast, too quick, too much without warning.

IMG_0617I’ll go ahead and apologize for crying in public in Claire’s. I’m sorry, sweet girl, if that embarrassed you. And here’s a few more since I’m sure it won’t be the last time: I’m sorry I can’t control these emotions sometimes about your growing up and getting big, I’m sorry I’ll probably cry again next time you reach some milestone, I’m sorry I can’t keep my junk together and keep my tears inside. Motherhood is just like that. It wrecks me. In such a good, beautiful way.

Maybe one day you’ll have a little red-headed girl who’ll pick out her own clothes, start wearing lip gloss and painting her nails, and pick out her own earrings for getting her ears done, and you’ll know why I cried. Because you’ll reach up and feel tears wet on your own smiling cheeks.

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What Great Dads Do

Great dads teach their boys how to pee outside. They drink tea from little cups alongside stuffed animals and dolls. They take their daughters on witholiviadates and strap on backpacks to camp with their sons. They tear up when handed a fresh bundle of newborn baby, understanding the great magnitude and responsibility of this title, Daddy.atzoo

They read books until their voices are gone and have tough¬†conversations with their children when necessary. They sit and eat dinner with their families, even if the game’s on, even if there’s a ton of unfinished work at the office, even if they have a better offer to be out with friends.

They give piggy backs and horsey rides and shoulder rides and any other torturous form of ride that their kids create. They hold the back of the bike and run behind until confidence soars and they can let go.

They are firm, gentle, loving, disciplined, strong, compassionate, playful,  and hardworking.

superheroThey are superheroes.

Great dads are seen at recitals, competitions, ceremonies, games of all kinds. They will be smiling big and sporting a video camera in their dominant hand. They cheer the loudest and clap the hardest.

Great dads play games. Lots of games. And they never win. But cheer heartily when sparkling young eyes ask,

sledding

“Did I win daddy?” Great daddies change diapers and attempt pigtails. They accept hand-drawn scribbles as if they are worthy of a museum. Their desks are full of framed pictures of their families. They can fix anything with duct tape or super glue.

Great dads wrestle their boys and teach them how to strike out withbaseball honor. They help perfect techniques for jump shots and scoring goals and dribbling toward the end of the soccer field. They pitch, catch, pass, teach, coach, assist, and help with unmatched perseverance.

Great dads serve cupcakes at birthday parties, squirt ketchup on hot cupcakesdogs, and sometimes dress up to make the party more fun. They are  on ice cream cone duty, cleaning up the drips and finishing the soggy bites no one else will eat.

Great daddies carry the heaviest load, they drive in the darkest hours when everyone else is asleep. They keep the closets clean from monsters and the cars running with oil changes and steering fluids (and honestly I don’t know what else is involved with the upkeep of a vehicle…)

readingGreat dads read the Bible to their family. And lead them in worship songs and pray for them every day. They quote verses after scary dreams and they patiently teach and exhort their kids to love the Lord.

They hold hands and kiss boo boos and horse ridegive band aids and dry tears. They listen. They love. They pack diaper bags and push strollers and tell bedtime stories and build sand castles and wear babies.

They’re always there helping and serving and loving and enjoying their families in so many small and big ways.

Great dads do.going camping

The Big Sister

We’ve had some dramatic outbursts with Ladybug around here lately as we talk and pray about Little Sister coming via adoption. Today she cried about us loving her less when her new sister comes. We calmly tried to explain that as mommies and daddies our love grows with each new child God adds to our family, and our love for her won’t change. She wept as she told her daddy, “But your love for me will have to move over in your heart to make room for her.”

After some time alone in her room crying and talking to herself (not so quietly), she came out with some scribbles on a yellow legal page and asked if she could read me what she “wrote”. Of course, Ladybug!

Dear Little Sister,

Please feel welcome into our family. Please feel welcome and comfortable.

Love,

Your Dramatic Sister

 

Look Out Kindergarten! Here We Come!

I blinked and my baby girl is starting Kindergarten tomorrow.

It’s so true that the days of the preschool chapter of motherhood feel¬†l o n g, but my do the years fly by! As I count out the candles for each birthday, I shake my head in disbelief that another year has passed by at break-neck speed. New mommies– hold that baby a little longer. Drink in her milky scent. Watch her as she sleeps. Soak. It. All. In. Today.

Now, it’s time for us to start something new. More intentional teaching and preparing… more pencil and paper time… more discussions about how things work and why… more careful practice of letter formation… more fitting letters together and creating words, sentences, paragraphs, stories… more shapes, numbers, tally marks, calendar time…

The teacher inside of my is over the moon with making sight words cards and a daily journal, organizing our readers, buying new school supplies.

The mom inside me is torn, cautiously excited. I miss my baby, sure, but I am loving watching the girl she is becoming.

(Yes, we may be homeschooling, but there will be First Day pictures tomorrow!)

Mommy Failure

Only a thin sliver of orange is visible as the sun dips below the hill I can see from my apartment’s balcony. I sigh, thankful that this day is over. Only a few more minutes and I¬†can tuck little bodies clad in mis-matched pajama tops and bottoms into their beds.

It hasn’t been a good day. I said not to throw it again, and he threw it one more time. I asked her to be quiet and rest and she woke both her sleeping brothers. I told him not to play in his milk, and he did a milk mustache anyways. I stepped on a toy. I yelled because I was mad. Dinner was a mess of leftovers and random bits of food pulled from fridge and tossed onto plates because Hubby was gone and I was done. Baths were quick and un-playful. He got back into the bathtub with his pajamas on (twice!!!) The toys never did get picked up.

Even typing, I’m amazed at how small it all feels. Honestly, tomorrow when the kids pop out of bed at 7am and start asking for Cheerios and cartoons, today will become a distant memory as we begin again. Motherhood is this constant cycle– feed them, read to them, dress them, wipe them, give them, listen to them, wash them, laugh at them, humor them, play with them, explain to them, discipline them, teach them, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like a gift. It feels like a burden.

I am thankful for the book I finished two days ago, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. It is short, but full of powerful thoughts as she (a fellow mom in the trenches) points to Christ in the midst of the daily motherhood grind.

‚ÄúBlessings, like children, are not ethereal and weightless. Sometimes they feel like they come at you like a Kansas hail storm‚ÄĒthey might leave a welt! But if you accept your lot and rejoice in your toil, God will give you the kind of overwhelming joy that cannot remember the details. Motherhood is hard work. It is repetitive and often times menial. Accept it. Rejoice in it. This is your toil. Right here. Those are their faces. Enjoy them. The days of your life are supposed to be full of things like this. But joy is not giddy. It is not an emotional rush‚ÄĒit is what happens when you accept your lot and rejoice in your toil. So rejoice in your children. Look them in the eyes and give thanks. You will not even remember the work of all this planting when the harvest of joy overwhelms you.‚ÄĚ

It was a blessing today to have these thoughts come to mind as the dishes piled up, the floors got stickier, and the chaos swelled to unbearable levels. This is a gift. And I accept it– dirty diapers, runny noses, sinful hearts and all.

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