Monday, June 8, 2015

Counting down the days

Summer has begun and that means glorious days of no agenda, no driving across the state for various school and therapy classes, no cramming things into our schedule.

But it's also the beginning of the incessant questioning from my oldest girl.  "Mommy? What are we doing today/tomorrow/the next day/the third Friday in September?"

She's an extrovert so her idea of a good time is in stark contrast to her introvert mama's desire to just stay home all day every day and read.  So, I've done my best to schedule in some social time that will keep her happy and not sap whatever meager amount of energy I have left over from chasing Faith around and growing a small human.  Also, I printed off this weekly calendar and fill it in every week so that when she asks me what we're doing I can say, "Go look at the calendar."

Lila has been dying to go to a Royals game this year.  She asks every day if we are still in first place and if we will go to the "Royals Series." (that's what she thinks the World Series is called, bless her.) So when I got an email last week from Faith's therapy school that they had been given a bunch of tickets to an upcoming game, I jumped on the chance for free tickets!  So now, the daily countdown has begun.

Every Day:
Lila: How many more days until the Royals game?
Me: 13
(ten minutes later)
Lila: Mommy, how many more days until the Royals game?
Me: I just told you ten minutes ago.
Lila: I know, but I forgot!
Me: 13
(5 minutes later)
Lila: Mommy, how many...
Me: (interrupting) Lila, in baseball, the batter gets three tries to hit the ball and if he misses it's called strike.  Once he gets three strikes he's out.  This is the third time you've asked me today, so this is your third strike.  I'll tell you this one more time today, but if you can't remember, you'll have to wait until tomorrow to ask me again, okay?
Lila: Okay.
Me: 13 more days until we go to the game.
(ten minutes later)
Lila: Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Lila: I know you said I was on my third strike...
Me: Yes.
Lila: But...
Me: Lila.
Lila: Oh I remember!  13 days!
Me: (SIGH)

After a daily repeat of this conversation, I wised up and added a countdown to her weekly What Are We Doing Today Calendar:

Lila: Mommy?  How many more days...
Me: Go look at the calendar.


We are also counting down the days until my due date.  I am daily more and more uncomfortable, and now that the heat and humidity are in full force and my feet have swollen to three times their normal size, I mostly just whine and moan all day.  Lila has started asking us if her feet look swollen (monkey see, monkey do) and Faith is really frustrated that there's no room for her on my lap anymore when she wants to read books.

I'm still holding out hope that I won't go all the way to my due date.  I'm a week away from technically being full term so it's getting to the point where I sort of welcome any signs that things might be moving toward labor.  I downloaded a contraction-timing app on my phone and the other day I got to break it in as I was having a few more painful contractions.  Well, I thought they were contractions, but it turns out my skirt was just too tight on my tummy.  The contractions were miraculously cured when I pulled my skirt up over my belly. (insert red-cheeked emoji)

They say misery loves company and I have to agree.  I have taken to texting near-daily photos of my feet to my family for some commiseration.

As I'm getting closer to meeting this little one, I've been thinking about the last 8 months and all they have brought us to and through.  I was remembering our excitement and disbelief when we first found out that we were pregnant and I realized I never posted the video of us telling Lila.  She was just starting to read so I wrote out a message for her to read out loud and her reaction is priceless.

Don't you love how her first reaction is "I have to tell my friends!"? Extrovert.

She has been so excited from the beginning.  Never once has she complained about me not being as available to her during this pregnancy.  Her biggest complaint is that it's taking too long for her sister to be here!  After we told her, she ran up to her room and wrote me this note which is now hanging on my closet door:

 Translation: Lila Mommy I am so happy that we got a new baby but I am so excited

She's the best, am I right?

Baby Girl, come out soon and meet the two best big sisters a girl could hope for.  We all are so anxious to hold you in our arms!  We are counting down the days!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Updates: Faith, Lila and Baby

I thought I'd stop in with a few updates and pictures that have been on my mind to share.

We finished up Faith's year of therapy and pre-preschool.  Looking at the goals she had this time last year, I am reminded how much she has accomplished in the last 12 months.  I'm so proud of that girl and her tenacity and spunk.  She never stops moving and never seems content with her current skill set - something I am so grateful for, but also that lends itself to much angst for the child without words to verbalize her frustrations.

Her speech continues to be the thing I'm the most concerned about.  I have another appointment for her next week with the audiologist to check her hearing since her speech does not seem to be on track with her other developmental milestones.  Her large motor and fine motor are both doing really well.  She loves coloring and I have way too many pictures in my phone that basically look the same because I think she's so cute when she's focused hard on her drawing.
Exhibit A

Exhibit B
 I mean, how cute is that??

She's taken to hugging people with enthusiasm which is perhaps the most life-giving thing you could possibly imagine happening to you.  Sometimes it's a hug in greeting, sometimes it's a hug as she's leaving, or sometimes, it's just that she spotted you across the room and was overcome with how much she likes you.  Today she hugged me twice in about 5 minutes, each time when I entered the room from the adjacent room.  "Mommy!  You're back from the kitchen! Hooray!" she seemed to say.  Her sweetness and affection are really too much for me to handle sometimes.

On the other end of the spectrum, she Houdini'd her way out of her crib today when she was supposed to be napping and ended up with a bloody lip and a goose egg on her forehead.  When I ran (and I use "ran" in the most pregnant sense of the word) up there after I heard the stomach-lurching thud and then wail, I found her looking indignant and sitting next to her crib with Lila's Ursula doll (of Little Mermaid infamy) inexplicably dangling from her hair.  I didn't notice the blood at first, but then suddenly it was everywhere and I couldn't tell from where it originated so, naturally, I panicked.  Lila kicked into Big Sister mode (what would I do without that girl?) and ran to get an ice pack and washcloth to try to stop the bleeding while I wiped the blood away from Faith's mouth and chin and tried to find the source.

In the end, as these things usually go, Mommy was much more traumatized than the kid and within a few minutes, Faith was pushing my hand and the icepack away in irritation as she tried to get down and go about her business of destroying any semblance of order in our house.

We HAD planned a surprise visit to First Mama and Baba at their restaurant as a sort of belated Mother's Day celebration, but if you think I'm going to march Faith into the restaurant with a bloody lip when First Mama can't help herself from commenting that she thinks Faith is cold every time she sees her, well, you're wrong.  We'll be postponing our unscheduled visit until Faith's lip and forehead are more normal colors.

Lila had her last day of preschool last week and I cried like the hormonal pregnant woman I am.  I was feeling a little teary as I pulled into the parking lot, but I managed to get it together as I walked up the stairs.  However, then I was greeted by this outside of her room:

And I said out loud, "Now that's just mean!" and promptly lost my composure as big fat tears dripped down my face.  How is she done with preschool already?? How is it possible that she'll be in KINDERGARTEN next year??  How? HOW?????

I told her teachers that I wouldn't be so sad if they hadn't given Lila such a fantastic year.  It's their fault, really.  If only they hadn't been so consistently amazing and loving and awesome, this would be much easier!

I'm so grateful for the year Lila has had in the Green Room.  She has learned so much academically, but more importantly, she has grown and matured as a person with their care and counsel.  I truly felt like they "got" her - which did so much for my mommy heart.

Yesterday I realized how much I LOVE five years old.  Five years old is my favorite so far.  She's SO. FUN.  She's hilarious and innocent and just exploding with creativity and energy.  She's independent, but still needs me.  She's snuggly.  She's irrational.  She's emotional.  She's loving.  She's reckless.  She's just awesome.  She asks if she can play outside in the backyard and I can say yes without hesitation and then listen to her sing her lungs out (alternating between songs about how much she loves Jesus and Katy Perry's Firework - no joke - I'm sure our neighbors can't quite figure us out!) while she pumps her legs wildly on the swings.  My heart just swells with the joy of childhood watching her fly back and forth through the air.

When you're five, the world is still magical.  Things like mastering jumping rope and cutting a "perfect" circle are worthy of celebratory squeals.  And when Daddy asks if you want to play catch with your pink ball and "mitten," it is a requirement that you run upstairs to change into your "baseball clothes" before you can commence playing.
I asked her why she stood like that before she threw the ball and she said, "I saw it on the Royals."
I bought her some of those beads you put on a pegboard and then melt together with an iron.  (I'm sure there's a name for them, but I bought them IKEA and we all know that IKEA's product names are ten kinds of ridiculous so I have no idea what to call them.)  I intended to save them until after the baby is born for a day when I was desperate to give her something to do, but she kept asking what they were and - to be honest - I wanted to play with them, too.  So we spent a good two hours playing with them today.  She probably said ten times, "I love doing activities like this with you."  (Heart = melted) She also called me "Amazing Mommy" when I rescued one of her projects that started breaking because I hadn't ironed it long enough.  I told her I'd do just about anything she wanted if she called me "Amazing Mommy" when she asked me.  I'm on high alert for when she decides to cash that one in!

She's just the best.  Brimming with talent and oozing sweetness.  She told me today that she doesn't ever want to grow up and I'm totally okay with that.

I think this baby is going to be a drama queen because she's certainly causing lots of excitement during her gestation.  What with the morning sickness lasting 30+ weeks and my little hospital visit a few weeks ago, you'd think we'd be done with the excitement.  Our little drama queen says, "Not so!"

I found out last week that I have gestational diabetes.  I cried for most of the day when the nurse called to tell me.  At the time, I was still dealing with near daily nausea and the thought that I couldn't eat a box of Wheat Thins or have a piece of toast when that's all that sounded good was just more than I could handle in the moment.  Once I met with the dietician, I felt a lot better about my life.  And really, despite the inconveniences, the adjustment hasn't been all that horrible.  There have been moments when I've felt really sorry for myself, but for the most part the discipline has been good for me and I think being more intentional about eating regularly and having snacks in between has helped my nausea.

That being said, this pregnancy has been really hard and I am ready to hold the baby that my body has worked so hard to grow and sustain.  I think we've decided on a name, but I'm not confident enough to share it here.  We have been rather fickle with her name, but Lila has taken to calling her one of the names we have been considering and the more she says it, the more it feels right so I think that's who Baby Girl will be.  Still, I feel like we may have to wait to meet her before we know for sure the name fits her.

I've been having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions and I said to the Husband tonight that some days I really doubt I'll make it to my due date.  It just seems like she might come early.  Now, watch me go past my due date in the middle of a July heatwave - that would be keeping with the theme of this pregnancy!

We've been working on the nursery (pictures to come once I get things hung on the wall) and the reality of having three children is starting to settle on me in a real way.  (Eeeek!)

For the most part, I feel like I haven't really had time to process much of what is going on in my life because of all the chaos and every day minutia that takes up most of my brain space.  (Which might explain the floodgates opening on Lila's last day of preschool!)  But here's what I know: I married a good man.  I'm pregnant - which for many years was a far-off and distant hope - and about to add a third daughter to our family.  I have great kids who keep me busy and remind me why all of the puking and finger-pricking is worth it.  And, most importantly, Jesus tends our little flock like a shepherd.  He carries my lambs in his arms.  He gently leads those that have young.

I'm once again brought to my knees in gratitude for the big and small ways he tends and carries and gently leads.  In a season of my life when I have needed heaping doses of tenderness, He has yet to fail me.  I've definitely had moments of feeling totally overwhelmed and helpless, but they've always been met with just what I need in the form of friends who bring me low-carb and delicious mini muffins and Chipotle gift cards, or simply a good night's sleep.  I have had friends sit and cry with me over the disappointments and hardships of the last 6 months and I have had friends make me laugh so hard I peed my pants (which, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon of an occurrence these days).  All of these things were small mercies heaped onto big ones - reminders that God knows my most intimate needs right along with my most trivial needs and they all matter to him.

We have battles before and behind us and big change a-comin' but we will have what we need.  I'm sure of it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm still here.

Oh hi there.  Remember me?  My name is Kelsey and I used to write on this blog.  Then life got crazy and lots of things took a back seat to surviving.  I'm not promising I'll be back, but I thought at least I'd stop in with a bit of an update.

We found out that Baby #3 is a GIRL!  We were so shocked - we all were convinced it was a boy!  But we've all adjusted and now we are super excited to be joining the Three Girls Club in a few months.  We're talking names, but can't seem to make up our minds.  We may just have to meet this little peanut and see what name fits her best.

Here's her alien-looking ultrasound picture:

Speaking of Baby Girl #3.  After 23 weeks of puking (and still - at 28 weeks - the occasional dash to the bathroom or nearest sink/trashcan/plastic bag) she gave us some excitement earlier this week.  I had some vomiting, cramping and weird pain in my stomach for a few days. When the pain became more constant, my doctor decided I should be monitored at the hospital for signs of pre-term labor.  I foolishly assumed that I'd be there an hour and they'd politely tell me to chill out and send me home.  Thankfully, the baby's heart rate looked great and I wasn't having any contractions, but since I was still having pain, there were still a few possible causes they wanted to rule out before sending me home.

The scariest possibility was a placental abruption which is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterus.  This is apparently a bad thing and can be fatal for mom and baby.  They also were concerned about something going on with my gall bladder or appendix so my doctor decided to have me stay overnight so they could continue to monitor me and do some tests to rule out those more dangerous scenarios.

Since I didn't think I'd be staying overnight, I didn't do a good job of preparing Lila for my absence and she was really sad that I wasn't coming home that night.  We FaceTimed from the hospital which seemed to help a little.  I tried to take a screen shot of our chat, but she was too wiggly.  These were the best I could get:

I had an ultrasound of my organs Tuesday evening and if I hadn't been blinking away tears of pain I would have wanted to punch that poor ultrasound tech every time she said, "Take a deep breath and hold it."  The pain was worst when I had to breathe deep (or yawn or sneeze or hiccup or cough), so every time she said "take a deep breath" I thought I might die.  The ultrasound didn't reveal anything abnormal so that ruled out the non-pregnancy related problem scenarios.

The next morning I had an ultrasound of the baby and my uterus to check for any signs of abruption or distress in the baby.  The perinatologist took a look and gave me the all clear - confirmed that Baby is "still a girl" and told me everything looks "lovely."

The latest theory is that I have a nasty muscle strain - no doubt from lifting a certain Chinese two-year-old.
Playing dress-up at school
Yeah, that one.

So in the end, it was much ado about a muscle strain.  Which I'll take any day over delivering a baby at 28 weeks or any of the other scarier scenarios that were tossed around.

In other not-as-dramatic news:

Easter happened.  Here's proof:
Faith wasn't so sure about the bunny ears.  "Um, Mom?  There's something on my head."
And I turned 32.  For which I have no pictures because my birthday occurred day two of the baby excitement.

Lila had another ballet recital.  And I'm just realizing I never posted a video of last Fall's cuteness.  I'll have to do that sometime.  For now, here's this round of twinkle-toed twirling.  (It was a patriotic theme which is why she danced to Neil Diamond.)  She's third from the left:

That girl is a performer.  There is no ounce of stage fright in her.
Waiting for the show to start.
I asked her if I could take a picture of her up on the stage afterwards and she struck this pose all on her own.  She's a hambone. 
Her teacher, the amazing Miss Brittany.
Also, way back in February we celebrated Chinese New Year with Faith's birth parents at their restaurant.  It was hilarious and awesome.  Faith got to FaceTime with her biological sister which, I'm not gonna lie, made me cry.  It was pretty awesome.
The food was extravagant: lobster, crab, and lots of things we could not identify.  I asked what was in a sort of soup thing and First Baba (Faith's birth father) thought for a minute, then stammered, "Uh, um, ah!" and then said with confidence: "Fish balls."  Oh.  Fish balls.  Balls of fish? Or...

When I asked what kind of fish was in one of the "fish balls" I was told, "Don't worry about it."  Being pregnant, I was worried about it and didn't think it wise to try the "fish balls" or any of the other unidentifiable or questionably translated offerings. The Husband had no such excuse, which I viewed as payback for Faith's first birthday party when he ignored my mental pleas to help me eat the endless crab legs First Mama kept shoving onto my plate.

Those ^^^ are the fish balls, in case you were wondering.
We've been working on the nursery.  The Husband painted the walls with the help of Big Sister of the Year.
A sweet family from my school gave us their crib so we wouldn't have to buy a new one.  Faith is nowhere near ready to graduate to a big girl bed, which I think I will be very grateful for when Baby comes this summer.  Two kids confined at night means two less children able to migrate into my bed when I'm sleep-deprived.

 Lila got to go play at our friends' farm last weekend.  When I told her they were on their way to pick her up, she pulled this chair in front of the window and sat there watching out the window until they got there.  She was just a little excited and her time with them did not disappoint.  Their rabbit had babies three days prior and she got to hold the tiniest bunny ever.  Plus she got to play with Stella and Sophie and future husband Jude - all of whom she idolizes and adores.

 Lila got to do some big sister practicing when our friends had their baby a month or so ago.  She was so serious and careful to hold up Mary's head.  She'll be a great help when Baby comes.  I am so grateful for these friends whose girls are the same age as my girls.  What a gift to have friends in the same life stage and with kids the same age as ours!

Faith learned to make funny faces at herself in the mirror.  A significant milestone in any child's life.

Faith is officially a walker and Lila is officially a reader.  They are both in such fun and exhausting stages.  Parenting Faith is physically demanding - she seems to get faster at the same rate I get slower - and parenting Lila is emotionally demanding.  Lila is passionate and expressive and she needs lots of verbal processing time when she gets upset.  I feel like I do it well about 70% of the time.  20% I feel like I do it okay and 10% I feel like I royally screw it up (that's also the 10% when I end up yelling at her or losing my temper some other way).  I'm getting really good at apologizing and she's pretty forgiving most of the time.  I just pray that it's the 70-90% she remembers and that the 10% would fade away in her memory.

They are really starting to be able to play together.  Faith ADORES Lila and Lila loves Faith (and I think adores that she is adored!)  She is Faith's helper, encourager, protector, teacher, cheerleader - everything I hoped she would be and knew she could be when we chose to adopt Faith.  I took this video the other day and it just illustrates their relationship perfectly.  They truly enjoy one another.

Despite how stressful these last few months have been, I am one grateful lady.  I have a good life, even when it's hard.  Tonight I was singing to Lila as she fell asleep and found myself crying through one of our old favorites, a Sara Groves song called He's Always Been Faithful.  The lyrics in the 2nd verse in particular had the tears rolling down my cheeks:
I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain.
I can't remember one single regret 
In serving God only, and trusting His hand.

All I have need of His hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me.

In a season that has held a lot of pain - both physical and emotional - this reminder has been central to my faith.  He's always been faithful to me.  And truly, I can't remember a trial or a pain he didn't redeem or recycle.  So in my current suffering, it helps to look behind me and remember that he's always been faithful, and to look forward to seeing how he will infuse my pain with purpose and redeem my heartache for my good and his glory.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

God is my Shepherd. I won't be wanting.

These few months have been super hard.  Pregnant nausea and exhaustion hard.  Kids with colds and not sleeping well hard.  Having important and healing, but difficult and painful conversations with the Husband hard.  Still figuring out our financial situation hard.

We've sort of been in a season of reality check, and while I think it would be nice to intentionally enter those seasons as a way to reboot and purge and choose what we truly want in our lives and who we want to be, I have found that more often those seasons force themselves upon us.  But I have also come to learn that they are a saving grace in many ways.  A way that God diverts us from a path of destruction or even just a path of aimless wandering.

He wants more for us.  He wants resurrection in our here and now - not just for eternity.  He wants freedom and healing.  He wants to rescue us from the small life we try to build for ourselves and to invite us in to his eternal story.

More and more, I discover that my idea of health and wholeness is so...blah compared to the life God wants for me.  I settle for making it.  I settle for survival.  I am content with mediocre happiness when God wants true joy and peace for my heart.

I have been a control freak all my life.  When life starts to feel like it's falling off the rails, my intuitive response is to pull the reins tighter.  I try to manage and micromanage in a desperate attempt to grasp hold of whatever sanity I have left and I end up exhausted and frustrated and miserable and the people around me are miserable, too.  And if there's nothing I can tangibly do to control, I control by worrying about things.  I'm pretty sure Jesus spoke the words, "Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?" purely for my benefit.

I guess I'm just a slow learner because the truth is that the times of my life when God has worked miracles - when I have felt the most joy, experienced the most breakthrough, enjoyed the most peace - have been times when all control was completely wrested from my hands.  Our adoption story is an excellent example of this.  And yet, I still instinctually want control.  I forget that control brings death, not life.

I want to be my own god.  There must be a part of me that thinks I'm more trustworthy with the treasures in my life than God is, otherwise I wouldn't be so resistant to handing over the reins.  Which is why I am learning to view these "reality check" seasons as God's good grace on my life.  I hear his voice saying gently, "Little Lamb, you have wandered down your own path again and you cannot see the dangers that lurk ahead.  But I have a better way for you - won't you choose it?"

And, usually because I'm desperate - only because I'm desperate - I say, "Yes.  Thank you, Shepherd.  I was so lost and I didn't even know it.  I saw something that way that I thought could solve my problems, but I was wrong.  I thought it might be an easier way.  I forgot that your way - though often hard - is the only way I can really get what I need.  And I forgot what kind of Shepherd you are."

There is a reason we all learn Psalm 23 in Sunday School when we are young.  It is the perfect reminder of our identity and the truth of who God is for us.  I need that reminder more often than I care to admit.

I forget so easily that the Lord is my Shepherd and I have all that I need.
He lets me rest and leads me to peace.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I don't have to be afraid because he is close beside me.
He has weapons to protect me and tools to direct me.
He claims me as his own in the face of my enemies and honors and blesses me.
He chases me down to give me good things to overflowing.
I have peace because I know that no matter how many crappy choices I make, no matter how many tragedies I endure, no matter how many times I get confused and trapped by my own good intentions, he will find me and take me home.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

giving thanks while throwing up

Guys.  I'm real sick.  This baby is knocking me flat on the floor.  Lila just turned five which means it's been almost five years since I was pregnant with her.  I'm convinced my body doesn't remember being pregnant because it seems to be in shock.  I am 17 weeks and still throwing up.  Somebody save me.

Being pregnant and parenting other children is a game changer - especially when one child is a two-year-old with Down syndrome who is in that destructive and death-defying phase in which FUN = scaling furniture or pulling all the baby wipes out of the containers.  We have our pack-n-play set up in the family room as a permanent fixture and Faith spends more time in there than I'd like to admit.  For Christmas we got her a bag of 150 balls that we dump in the pack-n-play with her and she spends the next 15 minutes throwing them out.  15 minutes of her safely occupied means I can lay on the couch and moan in peace.

I'm hoping I'm about to turn the corner in this pregnancy and start feeling like a normal and functional person again. Until then, it's all about survival.  I tell myself as long as my children are safe, fed and (mostly) dressed, I'm doing okay.  If you try to tell me I'm not doing enough, I will cry and throw up on you.  I'm very hormonal and nauseous so criticize at your own risk.

Despite all that, moments like this make me want 35 children:

I love the way Faith looks at Lila.

Oh man, they're the best.

And of course, despite being completely miserable, I am so beyond grateful to be pregnant.  I had really started to believe that I would never be pregnant again.  This baby is the best kind of hope fulfilled.  It still feels surreal that I get to decorate a nursery and talk baby names and make guesses as to the baby's gender.  I never want to lose sight of the gift this baby is to our family.  I never want to take for granted that I am getting to do what so many women long to experience.  I never want to forget the collective years of longing and tears shed over so many failed pregnancy tests.  Every time I puke, I want to whisper (along with my prayers of desperation for the nausea to relent) a prayer of thanks for the life growing inside me.

Other things I am thankful for:
- a supportive Husband who takes on more than his share of household duties so I can lie on the couch with a washcloth on my forehead
- a sweet five-year-old who is so excited for her brother (she refuses to acknowledge that it might be a girl) that she takes it upon herself to keep my water bottle full, my feet covered by the blanket, her sister entertained, and my bowl of Cheerios stocked
It's not all love and sweetness.  I found this in her desk in the playroom.  Apparently she was mad at me for some reason.
- a cute two-year-old whose shenanigans keep me distracted from the nausea and motivate me to get up off the couch
Her favorite place to sit - in the shelf.  P.S. FOOTIE PJS!
- Zofran.  Hallelujah.
- a job that is understanding when I text that I can't stop throwing up and show up 30 minutes late to school to find my principal taking care of my class for me
- 70 degree days in January (never mind that it was 25 degrees and snowing a few days later!) during which the kids can play on the deck while I sip my Dr. Pepper.  Which reminds me...
- Dr. Pepper!  The only thing that settles my stomach.  I said to the Husband the other day, "I don't know how I'd survive this pregnancy without Dr. Pepper."  To which he responded, "How is that different from any other day?" Cheeky.
- our new house and our mini van - two significant purchases we made in the last year that we are so grateful for now that we'll be a family of five!
- proof of life growing inside me - even in the form of surging hormones

I have so much I haven't documented on this blog and I keep going back and forth between wanting to get caught up and just picking up where we are and moving forward.  And then I realize I have more pressing matters to attend to - like pulling Faith down from fireplace or making it to the bathroom in time - and the blog falls off my radar again.

So until I figure it out, I'll leave you with this cuteness:
Gotta love that low tone flexibility!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A (very late) Letter to my daughter: Year FIVE!

Dear Lila,

I cannot believe you are five.  The day before your birthday, we went to get flu shots at Aunt Jess' office and as we were leaving she scooped you into her arms and said, "I want one more hug from four-year-old Lila!"  How is it possible that we are already hugging goodbye to four-year-old you?  This year has gone by so fast and five years old seems so very big to me.

I love the ways you are still small.  You still need your beloved Snugglies at bedtime and when you are sad or sick (Faith Baby, Lambie, Snuggle and Birdie Blanket).  I've asked you which is your favorite and you refuse to answer.  It's as though I've asked you which is your favorite child!

You also have several verbal idiosyncrasies that I can't bring myself to correct.  You call the TV "TD" and a tummy ache a "tummy hank."  The other day in the car, Daddy asked you a question and then asked you again because he hadn't heard you answer.  In response you told him you did answer him, but you said it "whisperly."  We both could hardly stand your cuteness.

Oh my Lila.  How I love and adore you.  How you push my buttons.  How you reveal my own faults and gifts back to me.  How you surprise me and teach me.  Each year of being your mommy helps me grow and see myself more clearly.  You are a gift to me.

When Daddy comes home from work, I alternately vent my frustrations of your misdeeds and unchained energy and regale him with tales of your charm and humor and awesomeness.  You are a complete package - holy and broken.  I never want you to look back at these precious letters and have you believe that I only love you for the good stuff.  I love you through and through.  I see your brokenness (it eerily reflects my own) and I love you.  I see your beauty and raw holiness and I'm in awe.  I see your morphing, changing, growing, budding little self and I'm humbled to be a part of the nurturing of your roots and blooms.

You are five.  A much-anticipated achievement.  FIVE.  But I kind of don't want to talk about it.

Five means kindergarten next year.  Five means less Mommy, more friends.  Five means new freedoms and risks when I want to keep you snug and safe.  Five means access to new information as you learn to read - I can't control the content of the things you are exposed to much longer.

Five is scary for a mommy.  I wonder how many mommies feel this way.

But for you, Five is thrilling and promising.  You had great hopes in the magical passage of time that, in closing your eyes and tucking yourself into bed as Four, you would step out of bed a grown up the next day: Five.  You were sorely disappointed when the shoes that were too big when you were four did not fit when you turned five the next day.  And your "loose" tooth (you assure us it is wiggly, though the evidence suggests it is securely in place for a while longer) did not fall out when you awoke on your fifth birthday as you had hoped.

You have such wild faith in your hopes and prayers.  You were so sure turning five would make those dreams of shoes fitting and loose teeth come true and your disappointment at the reality was painful and heartbreaking.  You recently said to me, distraught, "Mommy, why did Jesus answer our prayer for a baby and our prayer for a new house and our prayer for Faith to feel better, but he still hasn't answered my hope to FLY!??"  I was a bit dumbfounded by that one.  After all, I still struggle with the adult version of that question!  Sometimes, Jesus doesn't answer our prayers the way we hope or when we expect, but that doesn't mean we should stop praying and sharing our dreams with him.  Maybe someday you will invent a way for little girls to fly!

You were unimpressed with my answer and responded by jumping up in the air with a grunt of frustration, determined to take flight.  Oh how I love you!

More and more these days, I see glimpses of things to come.  Trials and struggles you will have in friendships, gifts and abilities that will shape your life.  You are so competitive.  SO competitive.  Everything is a game, a contest, a competition.  We are working on being a gracious loser when games don't go your way, and being a kind winner when they do.  You have more trouble with the former and often devolve into tears if you don't win.  I have begun refusing to play games with you if it seems you aren't in the mood to tolerate anything but a victory.  I tell you that your friends will not want to play with someone who manipulates the rules (*cough* cheats *cough-cough*) to serve her best interest.  I tell you your friends will not want to play if they aren't allowed to win.  This does not seem to bother you, so I fear that you will have to learn that lesson the hard way.

Your competitive nature reveals itself in other ways, too.  You are always one-upping with your friends.  So-and-so can do this, but I can do this.  And if you are especially tired or emotional, it is not uncommon for you to tearfully accuse me of liking Faith more than you.  Usually this happens when you've been naughty and are having to have consequences for your choices and I happen to be meeting one of Faith's needs as you endure your consequence.  You find it wholly unjust that life should go on as normal while you are suffering such unwarranted misery.  If you're miserable, well then everyone else should be, too!

On the flip side of that coin, you feel the same about your happiness.  I love how you turn to me in wonder when you discover something new or when you open a gift or when you are proud of an accomplishment and say breathlessly, "Mommy!" as though you couldn't imagine not sharing such joys with me.

You generally feel that everyone should be involved in your struggles and victories and you should be involved in everyone else's.  The one exception to this is that you do not like to be corrected or disciplined in front of your friends.  I have learned that if I honor this desire to avoid embarrassment, you often make a better choice.  So instead of announcing to the room at large that you are one strike away from a spanking, I try to whisper the secret into your ear, reminding you of where we stand and what your options are.  You often nod with a smile and say, "Okay," and then change your behavior.  I used to think that embarrassment was a rather helpful natural consequence (and perhaps it is in certain contexts), but now I see that if I honor the trust you have in me to protect you, I show you that I know you and value the things that matter to you.

One of the ways you are so like me is that you want your feelings to be validated before you are ready to see solutions or accept criticism.  Even if your feelings are completely irrational (which feelings often are!), if I take the time to listen to you vent and then say to you, "I can tell that you feel like that wasn't fair and that makes you mad.  Is that right?" then you are much more willing to hear my explanation of a choice or consequence that I made.  Often just feeling understood is enough to calm the raging sea of emotions that erupts from your passionate little heart.  Poor Daddy.  He now has two of us passionately emotional ladies to deal with!

Daddy has taught you about the five love languages and you have amazed us with your self-awareness.  You listened quietly as he explained them: physical affection, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, and gifts.  As soon as he said gifts, your face lit up - you intuitively knew that was your primary love language.

We also taught you about the concept of introverts and extroverts which has given us context to explain how your needs and Mommy's needs differ.  But it has also backfired as you now see the fact that you are an extrovert as proof of your NEED of a playmate for every waking minute.  Your rebuttal for being sent to your room for a break has become, "Don't leave me by myself, I'm an EXTROVERT!"  I have tried to teach you that being an introvert or an extrovert doesn't mean that you deserve certain things or that everyone else has to adapt to what you need, it just explains why you feel certain ways and want to be with people or alone when you are tired.  I tell you that it is good for introverts to challenge themselves to be around people more often and it is good for extroverts to stretch themselves with quiet alone time.  Quiet?  Alone time??? TORTURE!  Oh, the humanity!

Which brings me to my next point.  You are so dramatic.  Sometimes I am just sure that you will end up on stage.  I can't decide if it's something I want to nurture or not! You are constantly performing - singing, dancing, making up stories, telling jokes, etc.  The fireplace at our new house has been repurposed as a stage.  I also have found myself saying, "Lila, singing loudly when people are talking is the same as interrupting."  At Christmas, I told you that I would gather everyone around for you to perform a few songs because I knew otherwise you would be doing impromptu performances all night and no one would be able to have a full conversation!  It should come as no surprise that LOUD equals BEST in your mind, (you compete with Idina Menzel to see who can sing louder and longer in Let it Go and then declare that you "did it better" if you can hold the note longer than she did on the recording) and you give little care to accuracy of lyrics.  It's about passion and artistry and drama and performance!  If you believe it, the audience will, too!  And I think they do!

You have grown so much this past year and it has brought so many changes and accomplishments.  This year you:
- Got to start chewing gum
- Fell more and more in love with Frozen (along with every other little girl under the age of 10)
- Learned to pray powerfully (for Baby Hartman's heart, for a new brother or sister, for no more nightmares)
- Said goodbye to the only house you've ever called home
- Experienced the death of someone relatively close to you when our neighbor unexpectedly passed away just before we moved
- Got to live with Nanny and Pop for four months - your dream come true because PEOPLE!  All the time!
- Learned to ride your bike without training wheels (and then proceeded to scare me to death)
- Became a professional colorer and artist
- Started in the Green Room (transitional kindergarten) at your beloved preschool
- Started ballet with the incomparable Miss Brittany
- Learned to READ!
- Learned (or are still learning) to navigate some difficult relationships with classmates
- Finally broke your glasses and chose the exact same pair again!
- Continued to rock at being Faith's big sister
- Learned you get to be a big sister AGAIN!

What wonder and excitement for one year!  And what will five years old bring?

I hope that you grow in your friendships - that you learn to let other people take center stage every once in awhile and to step back and observe the people around you rather than just plow ahead with your own agenda.

I hope that your understanding and love for Jesus grows - that you continue to experience victories in your prayers and be encouraged to trust him with your hopes and fears.  I hope that you would continue to know and believe that your identity, just as your name says, comes from belonging to God - not from the approval and acceptance of the people in your life.

I hope that you feel secure in your place in our family - that you would continue to enthusiastically take on big sister roles for Faith and Baby (who you are certain is a boy) and that you would weather the change in our attentiveness and time (now split between three children instead of just two) with grace and confidence.

I pray for the transitions the next year will bring: new sibling, new school, new friends, new influences.  If the previous years have shown us anything, it's that you will wear FIVE with the confidence and flair of the years before.  You will weather the changes and adapt easily.  You are one remarkable kid.

I'll say it again, as I've said it for five years and counting:
I love you.
Jesus loves you.
I'm so proud of you.
I'm so glad I get to be your mommy.

I guess five years old isn't so scary.  Five means more of you and more of you is all I want!

I love you!