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!!!
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!