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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Monday, August 27, 2012

August is for...

It is that time again! 

August means two things around here:  The State Fair and First Days of School!

My family and I have been to the State Fair almost every year we have lived in or around Louisville.  I have to say, we became our own exhibit this year:)  I love annual events.  I love thinking back on all our arrangements entering the fair gates; first with friends, then Andrew, then Andrew and Elijah, and now big boys and a baby train.  God's works are so very unexpected and remarkably unmatched. 

Which brings me to Andrew and Elijah's first days of school.  Even as I say that, it feels as though school lasted the entire year last year~ because it did.  Out of necessity, we continued to home school through the summer to keep the boys on track for Andrew beginning 3rd Grade and Elijah 1st.  They (and I) had a bit of a break... but no so much.  Last week, the boys and I started a new curriculum for their appropriate grades.  At the end of the week, I was sure we were completely crazy trying to homeschool and raise three, rolly-polly babies.  Part of my struggle was the inevitable learning curve that comes with new curriculum (which I really like, by the way).  An even larger part of my near-breakdown was the fact that I have never done this before with three babies in the house!  Sometimes you don't know something until you know it, you know:)?

Micah and I sat down and had a this is what we have chosen so let's do our best to make it work meeting.  And thankfully by the end of last week, we all have a schedule that has a 75% to work out, so we hope.  I will keep you posted on that one.  All I know right now is that people are conjugating Latin verbs, using lots of pencil lead and erasers, and, well, learning stuff.

The babies are learning, too!  We had the first ever ~Baby Race to the Ball~ tonight.  Isaac could have made it if we had left him on his back (he scoots backward!).  Isabella was up for it but still can't quite figure out the whole leg-arm thing.  Eliana was more interested in doing something totally different.  I have a feeling it won't be long...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Goodbye, Anakin

I am sitting here, watching my boys interact with their doggy in our living room for the last time.  This picture is from their last walk together:
If you are wondering his beautiful Carin coat is so short, it is because he was attacked by fire ants this past week and I had to cut hundreds of them our of his fur, poor guy. 
I am so sad to have to write this!  There are events in life that invite me to trust in the writing of the Divine Storyteller.  This is one of those things.

We are giving Anakin to another home.  He is such a smart dog and is very obedient to me.  However, after obedience classes, reading, establishing myself as the pack leader, working with him, and getting advice for over a year, we have come to the sad conclusion that he will be a happier dog in another home... probably one without children. 

He has always been a feisty dog and we have loved that about him.  We love that he is so smart.  He is very protective which is a good thing.  It can also be a bad thing.  He has tried to bite several guests inside and outside our home and has even gone back to growling at Elijah.  With three babies starting to move around in the house, this is troubling.  It is beyond my limitations to continue to work with him at this time given our family's circumstances. 

Honestly, I feel like a failure.  I feel like I have let Elijah and Andrew down.  I feel like I have let Anakin down.  I don't like it when I can't figure something out.  I didn't want things to turn out this way.  I pray that the damage done to two little boys having their pet taken away is small in the long run. 

All that said, this is just another reminder that I am not God.  It is best for me that I do fail or that things don't go my way.  It is good for me ~and my boys~ to experience hard things.  It is soul shaping to go through times where it is obvious that we are a part of a holy drama and that the Director is always loving, always patient, always carrying us through this troubled life.  It is also good for me to rest in the fact that God loves my children more than I do.  I was talking with a good friend recently who reminded me that there are events, good and bad, that will be part of the story God is writing in their lives.  Then, I think back on my part of God's story.  He has never left me alone in pain or wasted a hurt.  God can be trusted with using well all our experiences. 

So to ease the sting of losing a pet, we gave Elijah another animal to love on; a guinea pig now named Leia (as in Princess Leia, of course)... unless Elijah calls her Stella... which he sometimes does for fun.  Both he and Andrew still miss Anakin, but are glad to have another Star Wars' character-inspired pet.  I wonder if she knows how to use a blaster...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Day for the Big Boys (and Fun for Us Too)

Yesterday, Micah and I took the boys to King's Island in Ohio for some much needed parents/big boys time.  It was such a blessing to have a friend who was able to keep the babies at home for the day~ since I don't think roller coasters are recommended for 6 month olds~ although, the boys like to theorize throughout the day which rides the babies would like.

We had a blast.  Actually, if you ask Elijah, it was one of the "best days of his life" so far. 

With much anticipation and sunny skies, we ventured inside and ascended the 1/3 size Eiffel Tower to get a view of the whole park.

After getting the lay of the land, we made our way to the first ride, Surf Dog- strategically chosen by Elijah.  We took our seats and the boys dialogued about whether or not they were scared.  The consensus was no, just excited.

Then the ride began.  Through out the duration, Andrew laughed with delight.  Elijah, however, repeated the phrase "Mommy, I want to get off...  I want to GET OFF...  I want TO GET OFF!!!  I WANT TO GET OFF!!!"  Bless his little heart!  I kept trying to reassure him that it would be over soon and that he was safe.  After the longest two minutes I am sure he has ever experienced, he calmly walked off the ride and headed directly to Andrew's choice, Flying Ace Ariel Chase.

Again, Andrew loved it ~ Elijah, not so much.  He was such a good sport and didn't sit out any ride a 46" boy could attempt (without us having to encourage him too much either).  I think at the end of the day, he even enjoyed the scary ones (Elijah: No Mommy).  I do think he would do it all again (E:  No, I wouldn't).  I don't think he was that scared (E:  Yes, I was).

We haven't visited many amusement parks with the boys.  Andrew especially hasn't ridden much other than kiddie rides.  Well~ apparently that isn't a prerequisite for some serious roller-coaster enjoyment.  He and his Daddy even conquered The Beast--TWICE!--, the longest wooden coaster in the world. 

He loved that ride, as well as other super-fast wooden coasters.  He did conclude that he doesn't care much for the "loop-de-loop" (as he and Elijah called it) or corkscrew.  He and I rode the Wind Seeker which ascends 30 stories.  That is one brave boy.    

I think our favorites were the rides we could all experience together like the log ride and one at the water park called Zoom Flume.  We waited for about an hour for that one in particular but it was definitely worth it.   

I remember as a child looking around at the adults thinking, I wonder why they aren't having as much fun as I am?!?!  Now, as an adult I know.  It is because, friends, being a grown up is exhausting!  While it was a sincere joy, it wore Micah and me out trying to keep up with them all day!  At the end, I had left my stomach in so many high-up places I thought I might hurl and my body was sore from all the jerking, swinging, and bouncing.  Of course there was always ~just one more~ ride to go on before we had to leave.   

On the way there and back, we did pass landmarks that reminded us of our travels to Cincinnati just months ago.  It was good to show Andrew and Elijah our hotel and the hospital exits and recount the circumstances that had led us there.  We all (with the boys in adamant agreement) missed the babies and are so thankful we were headed back home ~ to where we would all be together again.

Friday, August 03, 2012

What a Difference...

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, so that just as it is written, let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:30-31

My, how things change.  One strategy I employ to quench my insatiable appetite to cope with uncertainty, difficulty, and as of right now, exhaustion in life is to think, "just give it a week", or "wonder what this will be like in a year from now".   I have written in the past about remembering as a means to hope in the future.  This spiritual coping mechanism is born out of recalling the faithfulness of the Lord as His Spirit so gently leads me.  As I look back, I am encouraged beyond words.  This exact time last year, I had just learned that God was allowing us to spend more time with our babies.  I do remember wondering what our lives might look like a year from then ~ and prayed as Micah would lead, "that the babies would come be with us". 

Well, here we are!  This is fairly typical day in our household:

Some days, I get up before everyone... some days I don't...
7:30-8:00 am ~ Feed Babies Bottles/Get everyone dressed
9:00 a.m. ~ Feed Babies Cereal/Make sure Big Boys are fed
10:00 a.m. ~ Babies Nap/School time with Big Boys
Somewhere in here babies wake up
12:00 N ~ Feed Babies Bottles
I am supposed to be starting vegies and fruit at lunch... but that hasn't happened yet...
12:30ish ~ Feed Big Boys
After lunch, we have some play time with the babies
2:00 p.m. ~ Babies Nap/School time with Big Boys
4:00 p.m. ~ Bottles (again)
Boys and Mommy are starting to lose their minds... so outside/basement play time or quiet time (whatever the situation demands) happens somewhere in here...
Daddy arrives home and there is a chorus of rejoicing!
5:00 p.m. ~ Feed Babies Fruit, Vegies, and Cereal
I make dinner sometime afterward...
6:30ish ~ Dinner for all over 3 feet tall
Bath time, play time, Daddy time, family time
8:00-8:30 p.m. ~ Feed Babies Bottles and get all the kiddos in bed
*** Please note:  In between all these times are the bouts of fussiness, diaper changes, correction, hugs, laughs, smiles, jokes, reading, spills, dancing, people dressing up like superheros, etc.
*** After the kids are in bed, then the race to do all the things necessary for a new day begin (laundry, cleaning up whatever has gotten messed up, dishes, etc.) and usually, Micah and I fall into a parental coma. 

Don't misunderstand; this is my dream job.  I love this.  I love that I can write this kind of schedule down.  I remember going through years of infertility and then secondary infertility, never imagining this kind of life for myself.  It is a hands-down, ricidulously undeserved, undeniable gift of grace and mercy on a sincerely idolatrous, ungrateful soul.  But with deep joy, profound love, and a multitude of mommy ~ child opportunities (as well as husband ~ wife ones:)), there is unending exhaustion.  I do find mixtures of sadness and joy knowing that this kind of physical, moving a child from place to place, feeding to feeding, nap to nap will have an end.  There will be a day when my big boys have much more freedom and my role in their lives will be more influential than hands-on.  There will be a day when my babies will be bigger and saying, "Do it myself, mommy!"  And then there will be a new set of unending mothering challenges. 

Amid the thousands of breaths that support our day, grace is unending, and love is constant.    

Micah and I sometimes look at each other at the end of the day, and he will say, "Babe, God has been so good to help us get through today."  This past week in particular, he has been gone a lot.  If you have seen the news, you know that he has had multiple opportunities to serve the community around his Chick-fil-a location as well as his employees.  I am so thankful for the crew he has to share in his work days.  They have proved to be steadfast and full of kindness.  I had the pleasure to work with him on Wednesday and can report that what I saw were lines and lines of patient, loving faces.  The past few days, he and I have not had our end of the day conversation and I was once again reminded that we are not the ones who hold our family together either as a unit or as individuals. 

So, what a difference a year makes!  And what a remarkable, enormous difference there is in 6 months!  Can you believe that on this day ~ also a Friday ~ our babies were born? 

I am happy to report that Isaac is a talkative, smiley boy with strength beyond his age.  He has even begun singing, which is a lovely sound.  He can push himself backward and loves to do boppy backbends. 

Isabella can now roll from her back to her tummy.  She is exactly in the center of the growth chart for her actual age!  She loves trying to mimic her brother and is happy to squeal. 

Eliana is going through an even-tempered stage.  This little one loves to eat.  She also loves to make herself look like as big a girl as possible.   

I am sure that another six months from now, my days will look completely different.