This Season

Oh, is it October already? This beautiful two-week window of mid-October in Michigan is one of my favorite times of the year.100_7870

The bright, speckled palette of trees that frame wide-open fields of corn, wheat, and soybeans….

The cool breeze that gently washes you with the smells of burning leaves or imminent precipitation…

The warmth of a cozy couch cushion, a warm mug of mulled cider, and the lull of the voices of sportscasters on the TV– all tugging you into the nap you’ve been putting off for months.  100_7873

Mmmm… I love it.

I’ve been teaching Elise the importance of stomping on leaves when walking in the Fall. She’s caught on quite well.

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Today we played in the giant pile of leaves Tyler raked for her. She picked a “special” red one and sang “Twinkle, Twinkle” to it as she twirled the stem in her fingers while I pushed her in her swing.

elise leaf

These days are the best.

And then the day comes to a close.

I told you we are in the process of potty-training, right?

Ya know, for all the time our newborn classes spent talking about diaper contents, this was one they never warned us about. I suppose it surpassed the scope of the class.

“Go potty!” Elise demanded tonight.

“Ok, lets go,” I replied, hoping this meant a nice, dry Pull-up.

As she took my hand to head for the bathroom, she looked up at me and matter-of-factly told me, “Ahweeve in there. Ahweeve. Ahweeve in there.” She nodded at me like I needed to agree with her.

I chuckled at her toddler antics and smiled and nodded, “Yep, sure. Elise in there.”

But when I went to help her onto the potty, I gasped and gagged when brown flakes that had been caked to her skin flew out of her diaper.

And onto the floor.

And her clothes.

And me.

Blehhhhh….

Heave….

Someone please grab me the Anti-bacterial wipes.

And a trash bag.

And gloves.

I was not prepared for this. Why must potty training be so gross?!

“Ahweeve on my bootie!” Elise exclaimed.

And I fell over laughing.

Apparently Elise had spent a good part of the night with a leaf in her diaper.

And besides the leaf, she actually was dry. Hooray!

Yes…. these are the best days. Even though we’re waiting and impatient to be chosen for a baby, we are in such a fun season of life right now. And much like Fall, time passes faster than we can imagine.

Enjoy these last few days of beauty, friends. And don’t play too hard in those leaves. ❤  Just a little tip from Elise.

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Baby Beluga

You’ve all been great about patiently waiting with us on this journey thus far. “Have you heard anything?” and “When are you getting your baby?” are common questions I hear each week. Your excitement with us is encouraging… I thought the frequent questions would make me feel defeated, but it actually reminds me that this whole thing is real. In the drudgery of waiting and the busyness of life, I’ve found myself forgetting that there will.be.a.baby.

A REAL baby.

That is OURS.

I do feel a little discouraged. Almost five months with only 3 opportunities and 30+ waiting families we are technically “competing” with… I’m not great at statistics, but the probability sure doesn’t seem great.

But what I’ve learned from our whole experience of building a family is that God’s purposes extend beyond my personal happiness and desires. That He has just the RIGHT baby for us, and we “just haven’t met you yet” as Michael Buble so wonderfully puts it.

Did I ever tell you how I touched his hand?

It’s on video. I can prove it. But I think only if you’re friends with my mom or me on facebook:

Wait, except my face isn’t in it, just my hand…

Oh, but I guess these Go-Go Gadget “piano fingers” (that actually were never any good at playing piano) are pretty unique. And those wrinkly knuckles. Why do I have such wrinkly knuckles?

Promise you folks, that’s really my hand. Fo’ real.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah…

As discouraging as it is sometimes, we know that sometimes God takes us down what seem like single-lane, meandering, dead-end roads to lead us to spectacular sights.

So thank you all for your encouragement and excitement, even if you get multiple responses of “Nope, no news.” Don’t give up on us!

And don’t worry about us either. Though the adoption stuff seems like it’s not going anywhere right now, Elise is keeping us plenty busy with potty training.

I never thought I would want to keep changing diapers. But honestly, sometimes it’s just so much easier.

Good thing her high-pitched little “woohoo’s!!” and precious little fist pumps make the hassle entertaining.

Oh, and speaking of entertaining, did I mention what Elise would like to name the baby?

Baby Beluga.

We’re really into Raffi around here.

I told her maybe that can be the baby’s middle name.

 

Shaken

It’s been about 2 weeks since I last blogged and there are a few reasons for that. As you likely experienced yourself, the summer is busy. Not just “To-Do List-Busy”, but “There’s-Only-So-Much-Summer-Left-Busy.”  Since June was pretty much entirely devoted to fundraising, we’ve been trying to make up for lost time with camping and day-trips.

But perhaps another reason is the celebration of our dear friends’ being chosen by a birth-mom, and bringing their baby home, only to lose her two short weeks later. The mother had changed her mind.

It doesn’t happen a lot, in spite of what you might have heard: About 1 in 20 cases, and usually a birth-mom changes her mind before the couple brings the baby home.

We are heartbroken for our friends. We were so thrilled for them and were so blessed to have met their baby girl. The news rattled us, to say the least. No one expected it. Everything leading up to that point seemed so God-ordained. The birth-family seemed so certain, so relieved to know this baby would have such amazing parents.

The past few weeks have led us through a lot of soul-searching. All of which makes our resolve to adopt ever-more sure.

As I’ve said before, one of the common platitudes we hear is, “It takes a special couple to adopt.”

But we are not special. We are not strong. We are not prepared for that kind of devastation. We are shaken and weakened just by this news of our friends.

We are fragile… but our God is mighty. 

We won’t withhold love from any baby… but we very well may have our hearts shattered.

We may face more than we can handle on our own… but we are never on our own to handle it. 

What we may experience through adoption is a mere shadow of the heartbreak our Father has over those who reject Him. Yet His heart can handle it, and He does not shut down. He can never grow weary of loving.

“How great is the love the Father is lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

And if WE have been adopted into God’s family, we feel ever-more burdened to adopt children into our own. But our ability to stand and move forward with determination has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. The God who loves us and will sustain us. The God who loves these children. 

So that no child will leave our home without being loved as our own and covered in prayer for the rest of their lives.

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

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Please pray for adoptive and foster families. They probably aren’t as strong as you think… we all need your prayers!

My Growing Girl

Our baby turns two tomorrow, and it has me feeling equal parts nostalgia and excitement.

When I first wrapped her tiny body in my arms, I expected to feel like we were finally being united – like pen-pals meeting for the first time.

But when I beheld her squishy little face, I was surprised to realize that I didn’t recognize her. In fact, I felt like I was staring into the face of the smallest, sweetest stranger I had ever met.

I wanted to ask her a million questions…

100_3397Do you know who I am?

Do you like me?

Do you like my cooking?

Do you promise not to move too far away when you grow up? 

What’s your favorite color?

What do you like to do for fun? 

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?

Do you like volleyball? 

Do you like to cook? 

Do you like roller coasters? Because I really don’t. Will you hang out at the waterpark with me instead?

I felt like a child myself:

Baby? What are you doing, Baby? Wake up! What are you thinking? I just want to play with you.

I loved the newborn stage. But it was so hard to wait for her personality to shine through. Like holding a present in your hands, but having to wait for Christmas to open it. Except they say not to shake a baby.

And instead of Christmas once a year, she surprises us with something new every single day. It’s like Christmas for eternity!

(Or maybe not eternity. From what I hear, 11 to 15 years old can be a bit more like Ground-hogs Day. The perpetual verdict is: Winter is never going to end. Or at least it feels that way.)

I could tell you a million funny stories from this past year…

Like how she tried to put her one-piece skirted-swimsuit on over her head came crying out to me when her face was stuck in the leg-hole like a lion’s mane.

Or how she startled me when she suddenly poked me in the booty whilst getting ready because my polka-dotted underwear reminded her of the “Press This” book.

Or how, when we’re on a mission and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I subconsciously mutter “We’ve got this,” and she enthusiastically (and clumsily) leaps into the air and loudly squeaks “GO GOT THIS!!!”

 

It scares me how fast 2 years went by. In another 2 years and she’ll be starting preschool. That terrifies me. I’m not ready! What if I just audit her classes?

Alas… I can only make the most of each day. Good-gravy, I just love this girl.

Big Girl

Alright, “Terrible Two’s”… I’m ready!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s About People

I don’t usually like posting political opinions on social media. I don’t think a witty meme or an impassioned Facebook rant is likely to change any hearts when it comes to highly controversial issues. Such issues are controversial because people’s feelings run deep. It is generally not in our nature to change our minds about something so deep-seated in our hearts. We need a deeper conviction than memes and quotes –  and even radically repulsive media  – can ever inspire.

And I am no exception.

My concern for women’s value and women’s availability to material and financial assistance is what led me to audit seminary classes for women’s ministry and choose an internship with a pregnancy resource center. In many ways, I would consider myself a feminist. One of my greatest passions is to help other women push through insecurity or adversity and succeed in life – whether at home or at work. I really can’t imagine my passion shifting in such a radical way as to deny my support of organizations that do so much good for these women and their families.

The issue of abortion polarizes people into two basic categories: 1) Those that are passionate about caring for women and 2) Those that are passionate about caring about the unborn. Reasoning that “life begins at conception” and women who’ve had abortions are “murderers” will not change individuals in the first party who truly believe their cause is out of compassion. For one, it is nearly impossible to convince people that a microscopic ball of cells, unrecognizable as human could really be a human life. And attacking a stranger’s character will never result in a heart that is open to counter-opinions.

Reasoning with a pro-lifer that a fetus is still a part of a woman’s body is pointless also. The belief that life begins at conception is rooted too deeply in their worldview.

I wish I had answers that could satisfy both parties. But I can only ask you to hear my heart on this topic, as it is one that so greatly influences my life:

After 3 years of infertility – 3 years of hoping and praying and silently breaking-down while others complained about unexpected pregnancies – my husband and I finally heard our daughter’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. Only 3 weeks after conception.

I can see how people who do not believe in the Bible could deny that life begins at conception. Life is a mysterious and amazing miracle – no matter if the life was planned and hoped for or a startling compilcation. It’s hard to understand how that such a tiny, unrecognizable shape could be human. But I do not see how anyone can deny that my daughter’s heartbeat confirmed she was life at 3 weeks post-ovulation.

To put that timeline in perspective: The earliest a woman can even know she is pregnant is 2 weeks past ovulation. Most (who aren’t crazy-lunatic-Infertiles) wait to even take a test until their period is 1 week late. By then their fetus – their baby – already has a rapidly beating heart. But as a society we don’t really educate people on that. I only knew this because of getting such early appointments while under the care of a fertility specialist.

Another issue that weighs heavily in my distrust of having the government’s hand in abortion-funding: isn’t it considerably cheaper to support the termination of a pregnancy than to tack on years of financial assistance to mothers and children living on low incomes? Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest. And what do pro-lifers really have to gain from being pro-life? Self-righteousness I suppose?? I’m not sure…

And I wonder… why does an unplanned pregnancy have to be such a burden? Why are we still afraid for our jobs, our chances of advancement, our community support, and our access to healthcare and childcare? Gender equality has come a long way, but once you throw a pregnancy in the mix, we start to feel more than a little insecure. Add in hormones and the worry about the above-mentioned items makes a pregnant women suddenly feel like a whale walking a tight-rope with no safety net. Working women are an asset. Working Mothers are a burden and a risk. I’ll be honest… I even felt that way after years of pining for pregnancy. Perhaps I am swinging liberal here, but I would gladly sacrifice higher taxes to connect families with sufficient resources than funding voluntary-population control.

(And honestly, I think finding good, affordable childcare is the greatest challenge. If moms could get affordable childcare so that they could still work even part-time, it seems like this would be worthwhile for all parties. But then, I’m not economist, so I really can’t speak to the viability of this suggestion)

Finally, as we sit around waiting to be chosen to adopt a child, my heart breaks at the amazing chances a child now has to be adopted by people who would do anything to be parents. And after years of dreaming and hoping a child, they are people who will be incredible parents too. There are not orphanages in the U.S. like there are in China. Infants are not waiting for parents. Parents are waiting for children. And not even just perfectly healthy children. Just any child to whom then can proudly give their name and their love.

(* To clarify, I am speaking of infants whose parents have chosen adoption. They are not typically waiting to be adopted. However, there are numerous children in the foster care system or have become “wards of the state.” That’s a different beast and one that also deserves attention, but I’ll save that for another time.)

Anyway… I don’t expect to have changed any minds with my ardent defense for both children and women. I loved volunteering with the pregnancy resource centers and was inspired by the warmth and compassion and generosity they showed every woman that passed through their doors or dialed their number. I think serving those women is probably the most influential movement one can take.

Because it’s not about winning or about being right. It’s about caring for people.

 

 

Go Home

Some days, you should just give up and go home.

Like when trying to grocery shop for a camping trip with a wound-up toddler.

It’s just that I had lots of non-grocery items I needed to get and the local supermarket is SO expensive and would be unlikely to have everything on my list.

But I should have known. I should.have.known.

Word to the wise, folks… If at the grocery store your toddler:

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She can’t find out how amusing her stubborn little personality is to us sometimes. We literally have to leave the room to keep from cracking up in front of her. I PRAY God uses it to stand up for what’s right as she grows up!

–  Refuses to sit in the cart and insists on walking… don’t even try it. Just go home.

–  Shrieks and cries as if telling her that she must stay in the cart inflicts pain on her chubby little frame… just calmly park your cart and exit the building. Make sure to smile apologetically on the way out to reassure the.entire.store that no abuse has taken place here.

–  Complains of being hungry… remember it’s only going to get worse for both of you as you load your cart with food she can’t eat.

–  Loses a shoe that’s seemingly untraceable… count your losses and just go home.

–  Empties half a bottle of bug-repelling lotion into her lap. And onto the groceries. And the wallet you let her hold… serenely approach the cart-wipes in the front of the store and bathe your toddler and your groceries. And just go home.

And then when you finally do give up and go home, make sure you’re not rushing.

Or you might get pulled over for going 54 in a 35 whilst taking an unfamiliar road home due to construction. And then your toddler might see the flashing blue and red lights behind you and not stop talking about them.

Oops.

I think the trauma of this trip was written all over my face, because the merciful cop let me off with a warning.

That or the fumes of citronella wafting from our vehicle lulled him into a state of leniency.

(Disclaimer: 99% of the time, she is a hilarious, chatty sweetheart!)

Silly Girl

As much fun as we had celebrating this journey at our dinner a few weeks ago, it’s been a huge relief to be past the bulk of the fundraising. No news yet. So far, we’ve only been able to put our names in for 1 baby. And the birthmom told the agency she preferred a family that wasn’t “too religious.” We weren’t sure exactly what that meant, but weren’t surprised to hear that we were not chosen.

Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to take a little step back and enjoy some family time this summer. I just can’t get over how hilarious our girl is. Here are just a few examples of her silly antics:

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Me: Elise, I have the day off! What should we do today?

Elise: Ummm… DISHES!!!!

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At a friends house:

Me: Elise, go get some play dough from your bag.

Elise: Oh yeah!!!

(runs her head right into their dining room table like you’d see on America’s Funniest Home Videos)

Elise: (crying) Maaamaaa, hold you!!! Blanket!!!!

Me: Come here, baby. (kissing her head) Here, you can borrow Piper’s blanket.

Elise: Oh-kay *sniff* (10 more seconds of crying) All done.

Me: All done with the blanket?

Elise: No. Crying. (runs to get her play dough)

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At the Family Christian Bookstore

Me: I don’t have my wallet. Tyler, I can take Elise from you if you’ll pay for the books.

Tyler: Sure.

Elise: (spreads her arms wide to gather us all together mid-pass-off) Family Hug!!!!!!

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Also at our friends’ house

Elise: (Rolling around on the floor in her dress) Change? Change?

Me: No, I think you’re ok. We just changed you before we came over.

Elise: Change? Please, change?

Tyler: Ok, here, let’s go back to the room and I’ll change you.

Later on the drive home:

Tyler: So… was Elise playing in your drawers today?

Me: Yeah, why?

Tyler: (laughing) She had 2 pairs of your underwear around her waist.

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I seriously can’t get enough of this silly girl.