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I can’t believe it has been over a year since I posted anything here. So much has happened, and there is no way to catch up. So I will begin afresh. (Is afresh a word? I don’t know, but it sounds very literary).

I have realized a few things about myself in the last two and a half years. I am not as patient as I once thought I was, I need a fair amount of quiet time, and I can bake a mean cake. But those aren’t really relevant. The biggest thing is that I write best when I am writing for myself. I really appreciate the encouragement many people have given me, telling me how much they love my blogs and how I should write a book, but once I actually started writing a book I got a serious case of writer’s block. I got stuck, and put too much pressure on myself. So I will be writing for myself, and if you get something out of it, or if it eventually is made into a book or a Lifetime Original Movie (because I’m fairly certain my life story wouldn’t work for a Spike original series), then so be it.

In every house I have lived in there is a place where I store things. It may be a closet, it may be a garage, but somewhere there is a place where things go when I don’t know what else to do with them. I’m not good at getting rid of my things. I am, however, great at getting rid of Ashley’s things (or at least suggesting that she get rid of them – I haven’t been married for 18 years and learned nothing). So when I have something that I want to keep but don’t have a place for it, I put it in that place. This is not terrible – especially when the place is not visible or you don’t have to pass it very often. But then you need something, and you are fairly certain that it is in your storage place, and you have to take a deep breath and dig in.

I bring this up – not to audition for “Hoarders,” but because I have realized the same is true of my mind. I have a place in my mind where I store things that I don’t need or know what to do with. Memories, information, goals, insights…there are a ton of things that I keep tucked away – out of sight and out of…well, you know what I mean. I have most of three good books (and one bad one) in there, if only I could dig through and organize it all. The more stuff that is in there, the bigger the mess, and the more I avoid it. I know that I need to deal with it somehow, but some things are too big to move, some things don’t have a place to go and, to be honest, some things are just too painful and I want to keep buried.

I have found that writing is the best way for me to sort through my junk. Good for me, but bad for you. (I am writing this with the assumption that someone will read it. If you are reading this, thank you. If you aren’t…then carry on.) I can record my insights, organize my thoughts somehow, or at the very least get rid of useless bits of information that I have been storing. Maybe if I can get some of this mess organized, I can finally get something accomplished.

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I realize that I have been grossly negligent of both my readers in the last year, but I haven’t been too worried about it. I figure that if God saw fit to give husbands a year off after the birth of a child, then I can slack off somewhat with no guilt. In fact, I’m pretty sure if Leviticus were written today it would include a whole chapter on housework, landscaping and blogging, among other things, that you are allowed to let slide during that first year. As my year of self-pity comes to a close, I hereby make a solemn semi-promise to make somewhat more of an effort to write a little more. (Was that enough qualifiers to allow me an out if I need it?)

I am not promising anything earth-shattering or life-altering. I also am not promising any additional housework or landscaping, in case Ashley is reading between the lines. I guess that the only thing I can promise is more moments like this:

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As I was writing the above paragraph, the house was reasonably quiet and I was wondering why I haven’t posted more to this point. Then Hannah ran into the room saying “Oh my goodness! Will spilled the coffee!” I went into the kitchen and saw that Will was engaging in his new favorite pastime, putting things into and out of the garbage can. I had just emptied the coffee grounds into the garbage can, etc. etc. and ended up giving him a bath. I always wondered why people who blog all the time have so many funny things to share. Now I am starting to think that people who blog all the time get carried away and their kids do funny things. So, in my pathetic attempt to follow in their footsteps, I went back, grabbed the camera to take a few photos before cleaning everything (and everybody) up.

There are many reasons that I haven’t been blogging, and two of them are under the age of 3. In addition to those responsibilities, I have been working part-time at the Family Enrichment Center and part-time at the Cafe at Barnes and Noble. We also hosted the entire Cosby family for Thanksgiving, and true to form, I decided five days before Thanksgiving to renovate our entire bathroom. Before it made perfect sense, but during the project I hated myself. Now that it is done I am glad I did it, but would have started a little earlier. Here are the before and after pictures from my bathroom project.

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Maybe it is the sleep deprivation, maybe it is a toddler in the house, or maybe it is just that time passes more quickly as I age, but it doesn’t seem like only three months ago that we were waiting in the hospital for baby Will to be born. The last 13 weeks have been full of ups and downs, questions and answers, crying, pooping, and not much sleep to be had. It has been difficult at times, but I wouldn’t change anything. It was perfect in a way that only God can orchestrate.

Will is such a good baby. He has his moments of frustration when we aren’t quick enough to pick up on his not-so-subtle cues, but overall he seems to be pleased with our progress. He has the cutest smile and is starting to laugh. I can sense that the most difficult part of this process is behind us, and the most fun parts are ahead. He is growing so quickly, and it seems that he soon will be as big as Hannah.

Sometime in the next few weeks we should go to court to finalize the adoption, and what a happy day that will be. The final pieces of Hannah’s adoption were somewhat anti-climactic after the long wait and the trip to China and meeting her for the first time. This time around I think having a ceremony at court will make this all seem like more than just a dream (albeit a very realistic dream involving stinky diapers and bolting out of bed at 2:00 in the morning).

In the absence of a lengthy post about Will’s birth parents, let me say again how much we admire them for their decision. It isn’t just that they chose us – that is just an honor for us. We were able to see first-hand the love that a young couple has for a life that they created, and the intense struggle they endured to do the thing that was best for him, even though it caused them great pain. They really wanted to be his parents, but they decided to give him up. We will forever be mindful of that sacrifice, and as he grows we will be able to tell him over and over about the deep love that his parents had for him.

In other news…Hannah is potty training, I am going to my 20-year high-school reunion next weekend, and Jaycie is learning to play the violin. I love my life and am thankful for all that God has done for us. We have some decisions to make, but we are showing uncharacteristic patience and God is providing guidance just like we knew He would.

It’s been three hours, and somebody wants a bottle. Gotta’ go.

Wow, it has been so long since I have had time to post anything that I wasn’t just exhausted – not that I am well rested now by any means. There is just so much to report, and I have some pictures to put up. Rather than put it all here, I am updating the pages for each child, so check there for new information and pictures. I am obviously having trouble aligning pictures, so just do the best you can.

If you are wondering why I haven’t posted lately, I will tell you. In the past few weeks I have been an Olympics junkie, trying to potty train Hannah, take care of a two-month old, keep my garden watered and prepare to dominate my Fantasy Football Draft, all on about 4.5 hours of sleep a night.

The big news here is that Hannah has a fracture on her elbow. We were going to Bible Study last night at a friend’s house, and while walking up the steps she stepped off of the top one and plummeted to the bushes below. She wailed for a while, and finally stopped but was never herself. When she moved her arm again later, she began crying again. We went to Urgent Care and got it x-rayed. We go tomorrow to an Orthopedic doctor to fix it somehow. I can’t imagine that there are many things worse than your child being in pain and being unable to fix it. I took these pictures today to share with you because it is so pitiful. Note that between the baby and her injury I didn’t take the time to do her hair to prepare for her photo shoot.

Sitting on the couch with her arm in a sling. Is this not the saddest thing you have ever seen?

Sitting on the couch with her arm in a sling. Is this not the saddest thing you have ever seen?

Hannah eating popcorn (i.e. lunch) while sitting in the recliner watching Cinderella.

Hannah eating popcorn (i.e. lunch) while sitting in the recliner watching Cinderella.

I really don’t know what to say except that I am still here. I haven’t done any more live blogs and don’t really plan to – for several reasons. First, not every day is as exciting as the first one, second, lately when I have had a second that I could be blogging I have been lying in the recliner trying to catch a few blessed minutes of sleep. And third, I am starting to get self-conscious. People who are almost total strangers to me come up and joke with me about calling poison control. Lately, for some reason that is beyond me, there are a lot of people who are reading this. I have always written as if it were a journal for myself – a therapeutic outlet. Even the live blogs were a form of stress relief. Now I feel quite narcissistic and full of myself.

Will is doing really well. He is such a good baby. He is starting to sleep more at night and less during the day – which is good at night but now I have to plan ahead a little more. I can tell that I am getting more comfortable, and I make an effort to get out at least once a day – even if it is to go to the video store. The one day I stayed home all day was not good. I can tell that Hannah is becoming more independent – playing by herself and even going to take a nap with little supervision a few times. Of course, if she would go ahead and learn to use the potty she wouldn’t have to endure her dirty diapers while I finish feeding the baby. But then again, I can’t imagine the difficulty of trying to feed a newborn and help a toddler toilet train at the same time. Maybe I should count my blessings.

We only have a few more days of uncertainty and waiting until we can talk about our son or our three children without feeling like we need to clarify it or give a disclaimer. In the meantime we continue to be thankful for and amazed by the outpouring of love we have felt. While this situation has been difficult for us, it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would warrant such attention. I am looking forward to the day that Will can start to comprehend what a special little boy he is, how many people have been a part of his story, and how many people loved him before they even saw him. God’s hand has certainly been heavily involved in his young life already, and we are excited that we will (probably, most likely, hopefully) be able to share in it with him.

One final thought before I crash for a couple of hours. I really hesitate to ask for your prayers again, but Ashley and I really need wisdom in our relationship with Will’s birth parents. They are not believers, but they are experiencing the sacrificial love that God must have felt when He sent Jesus. We want to communicate that to them, we want to tell them about the amazing things that God has done, is doing and will continue to do, and introduce them to Him. We just don’t know how or when or what. I know that God will give us the words, but it is so difficult to separate our human emotions and fear so we can trust Him more.

If you were reading my last post and were checking¬† back to see if it ever was updated, I apologize. There came a point in the afternoon that I had to choose – and I chose to try to take a nap, which never happened. I don’t know if I will try that again, although today Jaycie is gone with another friend and I will have a perfect opportunity. I may actually venture out to the grocery store with the two little ones. I’m pretty sure if I have the chance to blog this afternoon I will not want to.

As I look back on Tuesday’s post I notice that there are some loose ends. First, I never made my bread. I returned from work at about 10:00, looked at the recipe, and promptly threw out my starter. Second, I did sweep the floor, did start a load of laundry, but didn’t get a nap. All in all, it was a stressful, tiring, and somewhat difficult day. But I wouldn’t want anything to be any different. Except the poison control thing.

I haven’t posted in a while, and why I choose today is beyond me. I am here today with Will and Hannah – Jaycie spent the night with a friend. I had the idea to live blog – sorta’. I am going to post when I have a chance and tell what is happening. If you are reading this, it worked – at least in my mind.

8:17 a.m. Will is asleep and Hannah is eating grapes from the bag and watching Sesame Street. I have just washed the bottles and refilled the formula container for three more feedings. I hear Will starting to stir on the baby monitor. I am only a few sips into my second cup of coffee – although the first cup was only halfway drunk before it got cold. I have to do sourdough starter this morning – sometime. I am trying to prioritize my tasks so I can do what needs to be done the most that will help me later. I’ve already noticed that…

9:13 a.m. Will finally went back to sleep enough for me to lay him down. Hannah is grazing on a waffle, and because I let her use syrup today (I know, I’m kicking myself) I have to stay close. We all sat and watched Elmo’s world in the recliner. I did get to feed my sourdough starter. Making bread tonight and tomorrow should be interesting. We are waiting for Barney to come on in 13 minutes. That should be Will’s time to eat again, and then hopefully we will have an uneventful rest of the morning. I am just looking forward to this afternoon. Hannah should take a nap, Will will eat and then, if the planets are aligned correctly, I should get to sleep a little myself. I actually have to go to the bathroom. I hope I don’t have to wait until then.

9:39 a.m. Just got off the phone with poison control. Barney came on and I took the opportunity to go to the bathroom before Will wakes up and Hannah loses interest in Barney. I came back and Hannah had torn the cover off of a reusable ice pack and eaten part of it. Fortunately poison control 1) isn’t coming to arrest me, 2) said that these aren’t really poison and at worst she will have nausea or diarrhea but should be okay. Now I have to rearrange the freezer. Now I wish we hadn’t gotten the side by side.

9:59 a.m. Great. You are going to think that I am making this stuff up, but trust me – I wouldn’t have imagined this. As I actually had a minute to think about putting up some clean clothes, I started to smell something unpleasant. I looked around and all I saw was the cat. I checked, and as sometimes happens when we are gone for a few days, the hair around her tail, etc. needed a trim. As a result, um…let’s just say she was the source of the unpleasant odor. Of course this is when Ashley decides to check in, and while talking to her and smelling the cat’s rear, I have to go extract Hannah from Jaycie’s room where she has wandered in the meantime. So in addition to a newborn and a 2 year old who has just been entered into the call logs of the Poison Control Center, I am now trimming poopy cat hair and risking being bitten by said cat. All this and I still have yet to finish a cup of coffee. Did I fail to mention that I teach parenting classes?

I have figured out that I can post this now and just edit it throughout the day. That will give it more of a “Live Blog” feel. I think I can make the assumption at this point that it will be worth reading.

2:23 p.m. Whew! Lest you think that I have been lounging the last four hours (has it only been four hours?) Hannah locked herself in the bathroom,¬† we’ve fed Will twice and Hannah once, changed multiple diapers, at least two of which were stinky, been to the Library, gathered Jaycie, gone shopping at Target, stopped for popcorn (also Target), and made it back home. I actually got Hannah down for a nap, and now all I have to do is get Will to sleep. I am currently typing with one hand – a skill I should soon master. I really want to catch a short nap so I am not a rambling idiot in class tonight, but at some point I need to sweep the kitchen floor where Hannah spilled her leftover popcorn while trying to get her own diaper. She also knocked my coffee mug off, but it was a travel mug and only half the remaining coffee spilled. I also need to get some laundry done, but that is slipping down my priority list.

Okay, I haven’t had the words or the time to post what I need to, but remind me later to tell you how God has been so involved in this adoption process. He has moved mountains, using His people in amazing ways. We told God when we started this process that if it were going to happen, there were several things He would have to take care of because they were just too big for us. He has done it. I’ll share the details later, but you need to know that God is making this happen.

I don’t want to get so caught up in the whole baby thing that I neglect to post some pictures of our recent family vacation to Lake Lure, NC. This was an awesome place – once you got there – and we had a great time. Here are some of our favorite pictures.

The first night we were all there we walked down to the beach. The sun was setting and the weather was perfect. Then the bugs showed up, and we took off. I love this picture of Hannah hugging Ashley’s neck.

Then I told them to act surprised.

One day we went to Chimney Rock State Park. This was the location where most of “Last of the Mohicans” was filmed. It was a gorgeous view. Fortunately we were unaware that a small child had died the day before, or we never would have gone.

This one is taken from the top of the mountain. Thanks to Mimi and PawPaw, I got to go up also. It seems that someone is beginning to develop some fears.

The last day we squeezed in some fun things we had been wanting to do. While the old guys tried to redeem ourselves in one last Spades game (unsuccessfully, I might add), the women/girls went to play putt-putt. Jaycie was the star, scoring a hole-in-one on this difficult hole.

Then, on our way out of town, we went to the French Broad River. We took our shoes off and waded in it until, once again, the bugs drove us away.

There are way more pictures to be seen, but I didn’t want to post them all here. I’m sure Ashley will post more.