Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy Family Day!

It's hard to believe that a whole year has has passed.  Happy Family Day to our sweet little (well, bigger now!) honey bun.  We love you, Liz!

One year ago...

And now...

Monday, February 23, 2015

恭禧發財 (Gong Xi Fa Cai!)

Our plans for Lunar New Year (Feb 19) were somewhat derailed by illness this year, but we still managed to get out for the dragon dancing! 

Everyone fed the dragons some money, and Katie got to dance with one of the characters.  A little coaching from Mom ("just do what he does, Katie!"), and she definitely got into it.  :) 

We ended up ringing in the new year with a high fever (Luke) and a quick trip to the doctor to glue up a gashed forehead (Liz), but we still enjoyed some Chinese food on Thursday.  Mostly, we are happy to celebrate almost one whole calendar year with Liz, and we look forward to many more Lunar New Year celebrations!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Love of God

I sing a hymn to the kids most nights, partly because I love to sing, and mostly because I want them to grow up knowing the hymns of their heritage.  We still put Liz to bed with the lights out, so it's a little harder to sing a different hymn every night.  Recently I've been singing The Love of God; it's a beautiful hymn, and I especially love this verse (which I have memorized!).

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Here is a link to the song, in case you don't know the tune:  The Love of God

It seems like an appropriate song to share this Valentine's weekend.  I'll try to post some pictures of our annual family dinner (no fighting the crowds for us!) soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Helpful Speech Concepts

Although I try not to talk too much about my kids (foibles or successes), I know people like to hear how Liz is doing.  Plus, this is a good place to keep track of things, since, like most #3 children, she does not get documented as much.

Just this week, instead of blithely accepting whatever I pull out of her drawer to wear, she said, "no" and pointed to a different shirt hiding at the bottom.  First time she's ever shown a preference for clothing!  It was kind of fun.  :)

So, two things that have helped a lot around the house.  First, Liz started using possessives about two months ago.  I remember we were doing laundry, and she pulled out a sock and said "Luke sock!" and another, "Mama sock!"  It's so nice that she can recognize possession, because it makes the whole sharing thing (marginally) easier.  Actually, I take it back.  We still really struggle with sharing. 

It's made a much bigger difference at the table.  For example, she used to finish her food and then fuss/whine/reach for whatever she saw on other plates.  Now, when she finishes her blueberries and wants mine, I can say, "These are Mama's blueberries, where are Lizzie's?"  She'll repeat what I say or say, "Tummy" (which is where her blueberries are!), and we can generally distract or move on from there without descending into a tantrum. 

We have also been working a lot on two-step processes--first cut the food, then eat it; first drive home, then you can have baby doll; fill the bottle, then have it.  Liz is beginning to understand the whole idea of two steps, but I think she is also trusting that we will fulfill what we say. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Gear Up

I start teaching on Wednesday.  I'm in my 5th year of teaching, and I've taught this class at least four times now.  I pretty much have my notes worked out (thankfully, basic chemistry hasn't changed much), and I know what I want to cover in the exams, etc.

I still get a little hit of anxiety before the semester start, though, and I'm battling through it right now.  This semester, it may be induced by the new interface I have to use (Blackboard) and the new homework program that I'm using.  Eventually, they should make things easier (i.e. less grading!), but I still have to figure them all out.

I'd like to think if I worked through my to-do list and marked everything off, the anxiety would go away.  Or maybe after I've been teaching for 10, or 15, or 20 years, it'll be so easy I won't even bat an eyelash.  But I think part of it is just a by-product of my introverted nature (yes, I consider myself a high-functioning introvert), and most likely, it won't go away until I get that first class out of the way.  Then I can move on to my teacher's high--I do love teaching chemistry!

It's frustrating to have that pit in my stomach (and it makes it hard to go to sleep!), but over the years, I've worked out ways to function through it.  Lists are important--I think part of the anxiety is that I'll forget something important.  I try not to make any really important decisions, knowing that anxiety can really color how I view a situation.  I lean on David a lot.  He's such a rock during times like these, and he really helps me see what is normal and what is anxiety-induced.  Music, deep-breathing, knitting, exercising...I try not to plan anything super-complicated right before my class starts.  Except maybe making 600 chinese dumplings...because then I could eat them.  Mmmm. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Midst of the Storm

I wrote last fall about hearing Lighthouse on the radio at a point when I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.  Here are some of the lyrics to the song:

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won't walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise,
You will carry me safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore

When I heard that song, I felt encouraged that the storm I was in (transitioning to 3 children, adjusting to life with Liz) would end at some point, and I'd reach a nice, calm shore where things were 'better.'

I wish I could say I've reached that shore, but as I listened to the song during our long drive home, I kind of realized that the storm I'm in is probably life on this earth.  Even if things became absolutely perfect with Liz (what does that even mean?), something else would happen.  All three of my children will be a challenge to me at every stage of their lives, I'm sure.  Even if they aren't, I'm still an imperfect work-in-progress.  Some of the deaths we've experienced over the last six months show that even when things are relatively calm, trouble can strike at any moment. 

So the promise is not so much that the seas will calm, but that there will be peace in the MIDST of the storm.  Peace found not in our circumstances or our behavior, but in God's promises to us.  And of course, one of those promises is that someday, the storm really will end, and we will find perfect peace in His actual presence. 

So the last verse makes a little more sense now.  We don't fear the storm, not because it's not there, or because it'll end soon, but because God's love brings peace in the midst of it.

I won't fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I'll rise and sing
My God's love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time to Think

There is nothing like a 20 hour road trip to ring in the new year, especially when it begins at 3AM.  It was just me, my coffee, the open road, and The Art of Celebration for a few hours--plenty of time to think about getting back to 'normal' life after two weeks visiting family.  My thoughts wandered around all the things that will be on my plate this spring, both things I need to do and things I want to do.  Sadly, I did not figure out how I would manage to do all this and stay alive.

--I circled around to the blog a lot.  And look, here I am!  I still think it helps me to process everything that's going on in my life and to see what God is teaching me, so I'd like to get back to writing again.  I spent some time thinking about how to finish up the series I was writing, since I may need it if we adopt again. 

--we've had a semester under our belt of preschool for Katie, and I want to take better advantage of my Luke/Liz time to work with them. 

--and my house!  Thinking about Luke/Liz time reminded me of all our kids books that need to be sorted/purged, and I'd really like to get a larger bookshelf for the family room.  The new toys mean we probably need to get rid of some of the more babyish ones that I saved for Liz.  Unless, you know, we adopt again...

--it'd be nice to do that before I start teaching, along with getting some homework sets and lecture notes together.

--which means I need to tidy up my freezer and think about filling it with handy meals.  I'll be teaching twice a week in the afternoon, so quick/easy (i.e. freezer) meals will be a must.

--healthy eating! dealing with all those cookies I ate!  I think I've gotten most of the family on board to do Jillian Michael's 30 day shred with me.  :)

--everyone asked about my Etsy shop over Christmas, which was really sweet...and it's been pretty far down on my list since Liz came home.  My main goal this year is to do a craft fair!  Maybe we'll be raising money for an adoption?

--So, adopting was on my mind a lot as I drove.  It was on my mind last fall in a not-so-good way--basically stressing me out.  God graciously helped me put it out of mind, but it's not that far away.  I've thought of many reasons which it'd be hard to do this again, but most of the drive was spent thinking about reasons to do it anyway.  Those thoughts are several blog posts in themselves, and maybe writing about it will help me sort them all out.  I may or may not be planning to request access to our agency's waiting child list...