Wednesday, September 25, 2013

a homecoming

On Saturday night I was blessed to be asked to capture some dear friend's bringing their son from Haiti home to join their family.  It has been a long time in the making but God knew every detail and went before them.  I deeply admire and Kim (and their family) and the way she has journeyed on this road of adoption with wisdom and grace. You can read more about her challenges and joys here. I am so grateful as we pursue God's plans for our family through adoption we have a community and family of folks that God has in our life to share with (and now I'm crying again).

After flight delays I was unsure if we would still be able to make it but apart from my baby crowning I would not have missed it so we made it work! We sent Miss Evy and J home since she was exhausted but Annikah and I stayed to welcome them along with many other family and friends.  As they stepped off the escalator there was a huge cheer from all of us crowded at the bottom eagerly waiting their arrival.  Maybe it is because we are currently doing Foster Care training and I am deep into reading and learning about fostering and adoption but I had an enormous sense of the profound loss and the deep joy of that moment.  And how acknowledging only one of those emotions is a betrayal to that moment of life.  This little boy is so loved already but he has experienced some of the deepest and darkest loss in his young life as well.  There will be challenge and blessing and difficulties and celebrations ahead for their family and we will stand with them in prayer and support them but it is their road to travel.  All this was bursting from me when I hugged Kim and tried to share something worthwhile.  Instead in typical me-ness I just started crying and decided to leave it at that and focus of taking pictures so not to scare their son with crazy white lady blubbering. It was a blessing to be there for these moments and I pray the images bless them as well in remembering a moment in their journey as a family.
kisses from his sister
high fives for his big brother
Praying for their continued journey and may God grant us all the peace and strength and grace to follow Him to whatever He has for each one of us.  Thanks Aneeds for living that out,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

releasing butterflies

We don't have much planned these days since we are eagerly awaiting this little boy's arrival but when I wake up still pregnant with nothing to do we quickly make some plans even if that means we roll up late (who am I kidding..that is our norm).  That was us last Saturday.  We took up some friends on an invitation to participate in releasing and tracking monarch butterflies in a forest preserve in the burbs. Annikah had studied the monarch's butterflies migration during home school last year and this was a great chance to see it is action.  We managed to miss the entire presentation but got there in time for the tagging and releasing which was pretty awesome.  Every year these butterflies fly thousands of miles to escape the cold and head to a small part of Mexico.  I feel them! We were surprised at how hands on the experience was as they let the kids participate in the tagging and releasing.  I kinda felt bad that these little guy's journey of nearly 3,000 miles started by being manhandled by a bunch of kids squeezing up all over them but as we learned they are pretty tough. We then did a little hiking and just enjoying the lack of concrete and noise.
learning how to tag them and interrupting saintly forest ranger with no less than 1 million questions
watching the kids giggle and freak out when the butterflies climbed on them was priceless!
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Evy was super into "the butterflies be on my face!!" part of the experience
even J dawg & me had to get in on it
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nature hike
and a game to show how difficult the journey of the monarch is (full disclosure Evy cried whenever someone chased her so she was allowed to just run around and "lay eggs" (put cards in the bucket undisturbed)
 We love the city but some days it is so nice to escape it for a bit. It was an awesome family adventure spent enjoying the beautiful fall day, marveling at God's creation, and hanging out together.

Friday, September 20, 2013

why I would have taken the epidural at 6 weeks and why we shouldn't judge each other

I have less than a month left (not that I'm counting except that I TOTALLY am) until we get to meet our little boy.  And when people ask me "Are you getting excited?" my honest answer is "I'm excited to not be pregnant anymore."  I just can't pull off the super expectant Mama thing. Sorry to disappoint.  Problem is I've done it twice before and I know what awaits in those early days and months and I'm just not a newborn gal.  And mentally, physically, and emotionally I was never thinking I would be there again so truth be told it is still hard to 'go there.' And if you have read this blog for any amount of time you know I'm just not that great at faking anything.  There was a time I would not have admitted that for fear of judgement but somewhere in between changing Anni's diapers and sending her to second grade I got a bit more comfortable and more honest with myself and others.  And it is ok.  It is ok that we are built differently.  It is ok that we all have different strengths and weaknesses and God uses it all. I love my kids and I am blessed to be able to carry and birth them and of course I will love this little boy but I'm asking God for a lot of grace (and lattes and glasses of wine) to survive the next few months.

Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to 'do you' and I'm hoping in that freedom I will be surprised this time around.  Maybe the sleepless nights aren't as bad as I remember them? No, they pretty much suck.  Maybe breatsfeeding won't be as horrible as it was the first two go arounds.  Sigh.  I could spend time being sad or feeling guilty (and I would be lying if I said I haven't) about my lack luster super prego attitude but it is what it is.  I wish I could watch in wonder at my expanding midsection but the reality is I mourn that I had to purchase granny chupis again. I see the months and months of hard work that will be required to get any semblance of a waist back.  Old insecurirites that I like to think I don't struggle with anymore (but truth be told are never far from the surface) emerge.  And I am reminded that control of my life is something I gave up to God a long time ago but I always find myself trying to snatch back. This is something God has brought me to to promote healing and restoration in my life. I'm trying to lean in and trust in that. But I am also trying to be honest with myself.  And the honesty helps me prepare and process and have hope.    

As D-day approaches I think about giving birth again and how that is a sacred, scary, beautiful, and enormous thing.  Birth plans and birth stories are the thing to talk about when your belly bulges and you waddle everywhere you go.  But I need to be honest I am just not that stoked on them.  I care about those that are close to me and learning through other's experiences gives me appreciation for the vast array of experiences motherhood brings.  But can I just say please, can we share without judgment or a vibe that says I'm more hardcore/super mom-ish than you?  Humility is needed for us all.  Because no two women, babies, or circumstances are exactly the same.  Hyperemsis has changed everything about pregnancy and birth for me.  With Annikah I could plan, think, and felt I was able to make decisions about what was best for me and baby.  I puked like a normal person and it eventually went away,  I read books, counted kicks, soaked up information on breastfeeding, birth, and all things newborn.  With Evy and this pregnancy I have been on medication every few hours since February, focused on surviving, cried at every doctor visit, and feel anything but able to really process and think through these issues.  And yes, there is a lot of differences simply because Annikah was my first but I have been in survival mode for months and even though I keep down more food than comes back up these days I am just exhausted.  Truth be told if a voluntary comma was offered when I was first knocked up I would have jumped at the chance.  No, fo' reals, I would have eagerly signed the epidural papers back in March.  My birth plan this time around is: get baby out by whatever means necessary and then EAT and celebrate!  And I'm ok with that.  I am so glad there are women who give birth at home surrounded by friends and family and are able to do so without medical intervention.  I celebrate you (well, ok I must admit sometimes I roll my eyes internally and full disclosure I am working on my own judgement)!  But I also want to say that every birth is a miracle and everyone is different and goes into the birthing process with totally varying emotions, physical strength, and occupying a different spiritual space.  And we don't need anymore "my birth story is better than your birth story" attitudes out there. Share and be free but know that your experience is just that; yours.  I've seen this comparison trap we women easily fall into transfer shame, guilt, or feelings of failure. I have bought into that. But it is lies y'all!  Let's celebrate the fact that God allows us to be mothers; through adoption, water births at home, emergency C-sections and everything in between.  Comparing and judgement will always lead us down one of two dangerous paths: feeling inferior or superior and neither of which are helpful or true. Both rob us of being women who can embrace motherhood and support and love each other.  Giving birth is not easy but it is a shared experience all over the world and as women let's unite to celebrate and empathize and listen to the joys, the struggles, the ups and and downs.  Without judgement. I'm in if you are.
less than 4 weeks and counting,
aka the puking peg leg prego

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

a girl's day at the pow wow

Jason was off to the U of I game last Saturday with my family (cuz really what is a 9 month prego going to do at an all day football tailgating event). And since I have a parenting philosophy that believes that all day inside on a Saturday makes the girls crazy and Mama irritated we decided to check out a Pow Wow that was not to far from Chicago.  It was a beautiful day and turned out to be a great experience. 
They were absolutely enthralled by the dancing.
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Both girls told me they wanted to be Native American but after a brief explanation of the hardships and persecution of Native peoples they agreed maybe not so much.  Yep, my girls have a history teacher Mama, it is just their lot in life.
Anni was eager to spend her last 4 dollars and poured over every table (she finally settled on some hoop earrings in case the suspense was killing you)
We ate fry bread, listened to some Native people share their perspectives, watched some amazing dancing,  oh'ed and ah'ed over the clothing, toured ti-pis, shopped and let our fingers run across beautiful bead work, and took in a new experience.  A great day with my girls.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

3 weeks together

Our 3 weeks with the girls from Safe Families were great and hard and awesome and difficult.  We tried to stay busy and squeeze all we could could out of the of the warm and lazy last days of summer.  We shared space and meals, had meltdowns, celebrated and cried together,  we shared life, prayed together, and we had adventures. Honestly there were moments (ok hours) where I felt like we were going to come unhinged but I remembered that happens all the time anyway. It was just more stressful with other folks watching and participating but that made it more real too.  But it was also refreshing to not try to keep it together.  There was nothing extraordinary about opening our home to these girls.  It was actually very much about sharing our ordinary and being ok that that was good enough.  It made me realize more about why God asks us to be outrageously hospitable.  When we are we have to hold less tightly to our lives, our stuff, our time, and our perceived control. We get in over our heads and need the body and community to help us.  This forces us to realize we are really not that cool or special or generous. We are weak and ordinary and only with His help can do anything that builds the kingdom in this fallen world.  May we live each day with that knowledge embedded in our souls.
kickin' it at Cosley in the burbs
seriously, how cute is Evy?
Anni learned some posing skillz from the girls
Bibi has all the major hook ups and called a friend that opened her home in the burbs and allowed us to go horse back riding one day
there were huge smiles!
Evy was in her happy place! She LOVES "horsey rides."  Seriously, the highlight of her life.
little girl on a big horse
bday ice cream party outside of course cuz I'm no chump! So grateful Laura was in this with us.
Our girls made them a photo book with pictures of our time together and notes and cards they made for them and we gave it to them at our last family dinner together.  We also gave them a Jesus Story Book Bible and another children's Bible after they asked about our books here. Evy waved goodbye and Anniah sobbed as we pulled away to take the girls home.  I was so proud of our girls and their ability to love and share and give and serve. It wasn't easy for them or us; but as we discussed many times, if we don't practice we will never grow to be more like God calls us to become.  Becoming is always a process and I cannot force it or make my kids into something I want for them.  I can only model and stumble and live and grow with them.  Alongside of them.  That is what this journey of hospitality was about for us.

We will miss these girls. They helped us to learn more about what following Jesus really means. They blessed us and we pray we were able to love and bless them and their family. Sharing life is the only way that ever really happens. It is messy but it is worth it.