Archives for July 2017

A Happy Post

I thought today everyone might appreciate a bit more of a lighthearted post.  :)  So, I went through my phone and found one favorite picture of each kiddo from the last few months or so.  Fun, right?!  No.  Not fun.  Do you realize how hard it is to pick just one picture for each kiddo???  I guess it’s just motivation to post again in the near future.  Right?  Ok, so here goes…

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This is such a fun picture of Hope.  It captures her personality really well.  Her little tomato chair that she sits in, we usually set on the floor; that way she is at the same level as the other kids when they play on the floor.  She gets more interaction that way, can pick up her own toys, etc.  But the chair is getting too small for her!  (Sad day, must find a new one…)  So now if she’s wearing her shoes or braces we have to strap the seat portion of it into a real chair.

The first time we did this for her, she was a little bit nervous.  Kind of that jittery excitement you get when the operator comes and straps you into a roller coaster.  And she was telling us all about her thoughts.  She’s smiling, but she’s also talking in this picture!  She was making her very specific sound that lets us know if she’s sort of enjoying something and sort nervous about it.  So yes, I just love this picture.  Makes me smile.

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After taking this picture I started thinking maybe we need to sign Jacob up for a modeling career… I love how perfect he looks.  And the great thing is, he wasn’t posing at all.  He had no idea I was even taking a picture.  He’s just doing his thing, playing in the sandbox (which is one of his favorite outdoor activities) and practicing his newfound ability to stand without help.  I can’t help but love it, his thoughtful look, his thick flowy hair, the casual stance.  Just love it.  :)

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I almost hate taking photos of Evie right now because she looks so old in all of them!  She’s had a growth spurt recently and I don’t think my Mommy brain… or emotions… have caught up yet.  Of course I don’t actually hate taking her picture; I love her pictures.  She is growing into such a lovely young lady in every way.  In this picture she is holding some test strips that we just finished using for a science experiment.  I took an environmental science course this summer (It was my last gen ed course for my bachelor’s degree.  I only have a few elective credits left after that so I figured I’d better knock them out and get it done.  I’m so close…) and she did almost all of the experiments with me.  It was super fun, and we had a great time doing it together.  Nature, science, medicine, all things she has always loved.  So it was great to get to share that with her.  Her happy smile says it all.

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I picked this picture out of just sheer cuteness.  Between his hip new glasses (they were the only blue pair that Stephen liked in the whole store that Mommy and Daddy could both live with lol) and the fuzzy little guinea pig – there’s just so much cuteness!  I’m sorry, I mean handsomeness.  As my boys remind me all the time “We aren’t cute; girls are cute!  We’re handsome!”  Evie got guinea pigs for her baptism birthday this year; this is the younger one, Penelope.  Stephen also loves the guinea pigs and holds them quite a lot.  He needs a little more guidance… ahem.  But he’s getting there.  He has a genuinely soft heart, and I think this picture captures that sweetness quite well.  Make no mistake, he’s as rough and tumble as any boy, but there’s a soft, squishy, gentle side too.  <3

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Oh my darling not-the-baby-anymore Kyrie!  Jake hates it when I say that, but I told him he’s going to have to get used to it.  And by the looks of this picture, he really will!  Kyrie loves her girly things.  Shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, purses especially… all of it.  She got herself dressed up in this outfit (with heels later but they aren’t in this picture) and I couldn’t help but snap a shot of her.  We got her those toy glasses because she really really wanted a pair after Jacob and Stephen got theirs, and I figured this was safer than letting her try the other ones on!  I thought it would be one of those short lived toys that gets old after a week, but it’s been a few months now, and she still wears them quite a lot.  We all love Kiki to pieces.  She is spoiled by her older siblings, and not being the youngest will probably be a really good exercise for her. 😉  Speaking of which…

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Here is the first ever picture of Bambino!  Have you ever seen such a cute ultrasound?!  Lol… Ok I’m biased, but seriously.  So. Cute.  And it was just really good to see that adorable little baby and that adorable little heartbeat on the monitor.  We don’t typically do ultrasounds, but the midwife said it was too early to hear anything on a Doppler and I just needed a little extra assurance this time around.  It was a good decision.  All the kids were there too, so they all got to see Baby, and I feel much better knowing everything is going well so far.  Early February here we come!

Left Behind

Oh gosh… do you remember that series?  I cringe now, but they used to be one of my favorite books to read!  Such bad theology… and then the plot just went on forever and ever… and ever.  I mean really, how long can you stretch out the end of the world?  Ok, so this post isn’t really about the Left Behind books or end times theology.  But that’s what my title made me think of.

What I really wanted to talk about is the feeling of being left behind by people… people who are currently still present on the planet with you. 😉  I have been feeling this way a lot lately.  And while I know intellectually that it’s important not to compare my life to the lives of my friends and internet acquaintances, it’s so hard to do that in practice!  Sometimes my emotions just get the better of me.

image1 (5)How is it that I can have all these beautiful little children with me every minute of every day and feel like I am somehow lacking something or not doing enough?  That’s a great question, and my answer doesn’t justify my negativity, but perhaps it will help it make more sense.

When we were pregnant with Evie I started researching all kinds of things, and her little life really jump started my crunchiness in a big way.  I didn’t just want to parent the way everyone else did, not because I thought anyone was doing it wrong, but because I wanted to be super intentional about how we raised our children.  I wanted to know why I was doing what I was doing, and it’s been a great exercise, not just for parenting, but for my whole life.

One of the things I found while doing all this research was something called ecological breastfeeding.  I’ve talked about it before; we’ve done it with all our bio kiddos and I wouldn’t change a thing.  But something that has always made me a teency bit sad is the long spacing it provides between children.  For some families this is great, and it’s probably helpful for us too, but it’s been hard for me to accept at times.  I’ve always wanted lots of kids, and my other friends who have decided to be open to as many children as God gives them… well they typically were always pregnant before we were.  They have more children and they’re closer together, and I struggle not to envy that.  It’s ridiculous when I think about it.  As if having children was some kind of race and I was losing!  Wow.  Motherhood is so not about that.  It’s embarrassing to admit how childish I can be sometimes.

And then there’s the adoption, oh boy do I feel left in the dust on that one!  We have several friends that adopted around the same time (or after) we did and I know a few of them who are already going back for more!  I always dreamed we would be one of those families who did multiple adoptions, and started planning our next adoption as soon as our new kiddos were settled (which, of course, wouldn’t take any longer than six months).  But here we are, three years in, and still not planning any adoption any time soon.

Will we ever adopt again?  I hope so.  But I don’t have the answer to that.  Still.  After three years.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s so good to see my friends and their strong families and their ability to bring home more sweet children that need families.  It brings me incredible joy.  But that little whisper of “Hey, if you had just done a better job of x, y or z you could be doing more too,” comes in and tries to steal that joy away.  I tell that voice exactly where it can return to… ahem.  But yeah, it hurts.

And then I went to one of my longtime favorite blogs yesterday.  I haven’t read an actual blog in several months (maybe longer?) but since I blogged again it reminded me, and sometimes I like to see how my favorite families are doing.   So I read this post from Adeye (who many of you know), and her family is just doing so amazingly well.  Her sweet lovies, as she calls them, are absolutely blossoming.  And yes, I know it’s the internet.  And yes, I know they have gone through the hard stuff.  And yes, I know I don’t know everything they are going through.  But when I see so much progress, I realize that our kids just haven’t gotten there yet.  We simply don’t have the earth shattering success stories at our house that many adopted families do.  And again… I start feeling left behind.

So what do we do with these feelings?  They are real and painful, and even the childish ones have a reason.  We can’t dismiss our feelings out of hand because we don’t like them.  They demand to be dealt with, and by not dealing with them we are just asking for them to come back.  Constantly comparing ourselves to others is not a helpful practice, obviously.  But it’s impossible to not notice differences sometimes, especially now that our life is so segmented.  We don’t spend our time walking the neighborhood and getting to know our closest neighbors who likely have very different lives than we do.  Instead we have social media and the internet where we can find groups and like-minded people to talk to and associate with.  In these groups and pages where we have so much in common with everyone else, it’s hard not to notice the differences!

So what do we do about it? Disconnecting can be a helpful start.  I’ve said it before, leaving Facebook was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  But when these issues do come up, we need to look at them in light of Christ and His love toward us.  We know that even though some things in our life are not good, that He works everything for good anyway.  (Romans 8:28)  This is a really beautiful perspective with which we can frame our lives.

When we start feeling like the world or our friends or like-minded acquaintances are leaving us in the dust, how can we process those feelings and allow God to work good in that situation?  Humility comes to mind for me.  If I didn’t have these struggles I might think much more highly of myself than I ought.  I might begin to forget how desperately I need my Savior, how I am nothing without Him.  Pride is a struggle for me; it’s good for me to see others doing better or more than I do.  I can be thankful for those reminders, knowing that my Heavenly Father allows them for the benefit of my soul.

These feelings are also helpful reminders to practice thankfulness.  How can I complain about what we don’t have if I’m truly thankful for the many, many things I do have?  If I was recognizing the vast blessings I have in my life, I would not be able to sit and sulk about my circumstances or covet those of others.  I can be thankful for the reminder to be thankful.

Something I have been learning over this last year is that it’s ok to struggle.  It’s good to struggle.  I often say that hard doesn’t mean bad, and I think this new idea of struggling as beneficial is related to that.  When we see our failings, shortcomings or humbling circumstances we can see the problem… Or we can see the opportunity, an opportunity to practice humility and gratitude, an opportunity to work on ourselves and struggle against those things we see that we don’t like.  It’s in the struggle that we grow and learn and lean in close to God.

So, in summary…

Bad things happen.

God loves to turn bad things into good things.

Let’s thank Him for the bad along with the good, trusting that in the end, we’re going to get to see Him transform it into something awesome.

Little Bambino

Before I start with the post I actually wrote for today, I just wanted to give a huge thank you to all of you for the outpouring of love and support after my last post.  Ya’ll brought me to tears (well you and the pregnancy hormones haha) and you have no idea how much I needed to hear every single one of those comments.  Just knowing how many people we still have praying for us after so long, and how many of you care, is motivation for me to keep pushing ahead and seeking Christ and His will in my life and in our family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You all bless me so much more than you know!

I told my husband.  I did.  I told him, “You can’t call the baby Bambino.  We don’t know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and Bambino is definitely a boy’s name.”  But sometimes I get overruled (ok a lot of times I get overruled.)  He says, “This baby is a boy, so it doesn’t matter anyway.”  He’s very confident in his prediction apparently.  He also offered that we could call the baby Bambi if we happen to have a girl, which sounded like a fine compromise at first, until I remembered that Bambi was actually a boy… and by the time we would get to see our baby girl the whole point would be moot because the pregnancy would be over anyway.  Then there was that pesky pregnancy article I was reading that referred to the baby as “your little bambino”.  I tried, but there was just no getting out of it… so Bambino is the name-o of darling baby number six.  (Until said baby is born and then we can pick a real name, thank goodness!)

I have been waiting to post this until we had our first prenatal visit, which was supposed to be on Monday, and then it got moved to yesterday and then it got moved to next week soooo I don’t really know when it’s going to be.  And in the spirit of not taking forever to post again I thought I’d just write this up now and then let you know how the visit went later, after it actually happens.

So on to the fun stuff.  I’m nine weeks pregnant now, we found out at a super early four weeks.  I didn’t even think I was pregnant when I took the test, but I had been so abnormally tired and Jake had mentioned that I take one.  I brushed him off, but ended up taking one on a whim the next day anyway.  And sure enough, there were two very solid lines staring right back at me.  I was totally stunned.  Excited, happy, but way not expecting it!

Morning sickness followed soon after that and has not let up at all since then.  It’s 24/7, and if I do get it to settle down as soon as I get up and move again the nausea comes right back.  The first few weeks were the hardest.  I called my doctor as soon as I knew, and I got in for a quick appointment.  Hashimoto’s can have fatal complications for the baby if not treated properly during pregnancy, so I was a bit anxious.  She didn’t want to do blood work until week six, and by that point I was having definite hypothyroid symptoms and thyroid flare ups.  My energy levels tanked; I was in pain; I was cold all the time, and just totally not functional.  I was so thankful when we did the blood work and she adjusted my dose; I quickly felt better after that.

I was really set on eating super well this pregnancy, but it hasn’t happened.  My food aversions/cravings have been all over the place; between that and the constant morning sickness (let’s just say my diet has been below average, even for a typical American).  My migraines have come back because I’ve been skipping so many meals, which makes the nausea even worse.  Can you say vicious cycle?

But I do feel like I’m slowly starting to turn a corner.  I can eat through the sick feeling now a bit better than I could a week or two ago.  Fruits and vegetables have become edible again and even meat sometimes.  So we’re getting there.  And I’m definitely committed to cleaning up my act on the eating as soon as possible for little Bambino.

I’m also hoping to avoid the bed rest and terrible issues I had at the end of my last pregnancy.  Me being out of commission is so hard on the family.  The kids are struggling with just my morning sickness impairments, bed rest would be (and was) unbearable.  Jake has been amazing, as always.  He has been cooking almost all the meals for the last month, because I haven’t been able to.  He works early and late so he can be more helpful during the day.  And, of course, he has to carry all of the children everywhere now and I can’t really help with that at all.  He’s done bedtime single handedly quite often.  And he’s even changes the poopy diapers because I usually can’t handle the smell!  He’s the absolute best husband ever.

So, in short, it’s been tough so far but we are muddling through as always.  God is very good.  Morning sickness is no fun for any of us, but we are thankful that baby is healthy and growing right now, and we are all beyond thrilled for a new little one in the house.  Even Kyrie seems happy when we talk about having a baby, although she does laugh at me when I tell her baby is in my tummy.  Oh well, one day she will believe me!  Oh and bonus adorable not-the-baby-anymore pic:

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Love you all, enjoy your weekend!

The Roller Coaster

I’m not sure exactly what it was that stopped my blog.  I was so determined not to be that adoptive mom that spent a year gushing about her babies and asking for money to bring them home, only to disappear into thin air once they arrived.  Not that I judged my fellow adoptive mamas who went through similar things.  Adoption is all-consuming – especially after the plane lands.  No one can possibly fathom what their new normal will be like, let alone if they will have time to take several hours out of their week keeping the world updated on their precious new additions.

I knew it was a struggle for a lot of people to keep up their adoption blogs, but I was different.  I blogged before the adoption.  I’ve been blogging since our first year of marriage.  Blogging wasn’t just an adoption necessity for me; it’s what I did!  So, naturally, I’d be able to keep up with it after we were home.  And maybe the real failure (as I see it) isn’t that I didn’t have time to blog.  Sure there have been periods of a few months where there literally was no time or no computer.  But it’s been three years now, and there have been plenty of times in between for blogging and updating.  So why not?  Why have I not continued?

There are so many reasons, between needing to not expend unnecessary emotional energy to just not being able to face my abandoned blog that I used to pour so much of myself into, to not knowing what to say in some of our really dark days.  But I think the reason that stands out the most to me (as I sit here not being able to remember how to even log into my blog admin account) is that our life is such a roller coaster and I didn’t know how to honestly take all of you on that roller coaster with me.

Some roller coasters were less serious, like “Hey, Hope is sleeping so well now!” To… “Oh nevermind, we aren’t getting sleep anymore.”  And some were more serious, like our constant progress and regression with Jacob’s attachment and behaviors or the myriad of diets and supplements I’ve tried in attempting to manage my Hashimoto’s.  There was a time where I have been able to fit on a single sheet of paper a list of every single food I could eat, because I had restricted my diet so severely in trying to feel perfectly well.  Other months I haven’t been attempting any basic vitamin protocols or healthy eating habits because I just can’t cope with any of it anymore.

How do I explain to my readers that yes I’m on the GAPS diet, no I’m not doing that anymore, well now I’m just going to do the Whole30 again, maybe I’ll add the AIP protocol too, and oh I found some more food sensitivities… well, no I’m not even trying anymore.  It’s frustrating enough to live that reality without actually having to broadcast it.  From some recent reading, I think I’m probably not alone in this up and down autoimmunity journey.  Healing hasn’t been straightforward or simple, and when I think I’ve found the magic formula for wellness I end up being disappointed, frustrated and exhausted from the work I’ve put into it.  And so I stop trying, but the next bad wave of sickness comes and the guilt seems to push me into trying something, anything, to fix it.

The same has been true with our children.  Things get better for a while, and then they get worse.  Homeschool goes, and then it doesn’t.  Nothing in my life is consistent or even has a noticeable upward progression.  I’m sure Jacob and Hope have made progress.  I’m sure they have.  But I can’t see it.  I am told by everyone how much potential they have, and I believe it, but there’s that nagging feeling that neither of them will ever reach that potential because I can’t seem to unlock it.  How do you explain that to people?  “Oh yes, the potential is there, but it won’t amount to anything.”  Most times honesty just isn’t an option, because people won’t understand or refuse to believe it if you told them.  And trust me, I’ve tried.

Everyone will tell you that special needs parenting is isolating.  Having a chronic illness is isolating.  Being a pastor’s wife is isolating.  If there’s one thing that I apparently can do really consistently, it’s isolate myself.  My online community used to be my foundation of support, but it was draining me more than it was helping and I had to let go.  I got rid of Facebook, and I’ve been much happier.  I stopped blogging because I couldn’t handle sharing the repeated success/failure/success/failure, up and down insanity that is our life.

When Jacob and Hope came home I stopped reading “normal” family blogs.  I could not relate to my friends anymore with typical children, their joys and struggles are just as real as mine, but they became so foreign to me.  I remember once feeling the way they describe, but I knew that I’d never live that life again.  And after a while even the adoption blogs and the special needs blogs stopped being encouraging.  Our struggles don’t seem to fit into anyone else’s box.  I try looking for help on the “moms with chronic illness” corner of the web, but they don’t understand all the other pieces of our puzzle either.

In real life it’s the same.  No one gets all of our puzzle pieces.  We are the only ones who can make our life work, and it’s hard to find anyone who can even help because they don’t know how the pieces fit together.  Our life is complicated and delicate and in a constant state of flux.

Speaking of which, we are expecting again.  Baby #6 is on the way, and as excited as I am about that, the fatigue and morning sickness, not to mention my other chronic illness symptoms are a new source of guilt and frustration.  I’m back to incapacitated most days, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.  I’m watching little successes, habits and routines I’ve spent months building just slip away again.  And there isn’t anything I can do to stop it.

I don’t want to just sit here and vent, because especially lately, I’ve been able to see just how much I have.  I’ve been doing a lot less taking for granted and a lot more of being thankful for what we can do as a family.  Maybe that’s why I was able to muster the courage to write this post.  We aren’t in the dark days of transition that we were in right after the kids came home or during Hope’s hospital stays.  Things are much better now.  I am way more functional than I was just prior to receiving my diagnosis.  We have five beautiful children and one on the way, and our marriage is rock solid.  We have all the things we need and many of the things we want.

Things are well.  But well just looks so different for us, and it is fluid.  I don’t know how to convey our family’s story in a way that doesn’t make people just shake their heads and wonder why we seem to be stuck on repeat.  Perhaps I’ll figure it out and come back to my long lost blog, and writing to you delightful people, which is something I really did used to love.

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