Sunday, September 28, 2014

Telling the Stories, Part 3

I knew I should have written out this whole long story, then parsed it out into tidy blog posts.  :)  But I think if I'd waited to do this, it never would have happened.

And in the meantime, I've quietly passed 8000 views and 200 posts.  Thanks for keeping up with me!

When last I wrote about this, things were not so great...not terrible, just not great.  Thankfully, God used a few different means to get through to me and begin the change.

First, the music.  I mentioned "Lighthouse" by Rend Collective--the 'out to sea' metaphor definitely resonated with me.  I was also listening to Switchfoot's Vice Verses whenever I drove in David's car.  It's a great CD, and it figures prominently in the denouement of this story.  But at the moment, I was listening in snippets and bits.  One song, "Thrive," talks about trying and not succeeding.  In the back of my mind, I knew the current attitude of "let's get through the day, maybe the next will be better" wasn't really how I was supposed to operate.  I just reread the lyrics, and they really capture how I felt.

Next up:  the words.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Blogging Convergance

I knew if I didn't start writing about the last six months, it would never happen, and that interesting chapter of my life would fade away into confused memories.  But, I also kind of forgot that my life is crazy right now.  The whole kids/husband/house/cooking/teaching/knitting-so-I-don't-go-crazy-and-maybe-I'll-post-what-I've-knit-on-my-shop/oh-and-sleep mix is still quite in flux.  

Last Wednesday a friend and I were commiserating over our inability to even find time to sit down and think about how to make our lives less crazy.  We are doing a study based on Ann Voskamps' book, "One Thousand Gifts," and last week was specifically about getting off the crazy train and enjoying every moment as they come.  Hah.  

For the next post in the story line to happen, I need the convergence of time, energy, and coherent thought.  That last one seems to be in short supply and high demand when you have three kids.  What am I saying...they all are.  :)

While I ponder (and try to remember what happened next), I'll leave you with this song.  My sister got me a ticket to see Keith and Kristin Getty in concert over the weekend.  It was incredible (if you have the chance to see them, do not hesitate), and this is one of the songs they sang.

My day-to-day functions feel deeply mired in the mundane...the minutiae of caring for small children, or a house, or a job, or whatever fills your life can be overwhelming.  It is a challenge to remember that woven through and in the mundane is the profound truth of God.  It is stunning to consider this:  the worth of something is measured in the price that was paid, and the price paid for my little life was the blood of Jesus Christ.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Interrupt this Blog...

I'm not really up for this level of busy-ness right now.  :P  We're deep into our new fall schedule, and between preschool, knitting group, and Bible study, we have something every morning.  Not to mention teaching, life group, and whatever else comes up.  I feel like I have time for the house, or my kids, or me, but not all three!  Oh, and David too.  I was hoping things would settle down once we got used to it, but they haven't.  I need to figure some things out with our schedule so I can squeeze in all four of the aforementioned items.  

In the midst of life, Liz's six-month anniversary came and went!  She's been home six months now, and it's a little hard to believe how much she's changed.  Last night she was helping David empty the dishwasher, and she was so excited to take her plastic spoons over to the drawer...she opened the drawer and carefully put them away, one by one, then ran back to David, excited for the next job.  She's so big!

I still wish she'd communicate less with whines/fussing and more with words, but for only six months of English language acquisition, she's done really well.  Someone who has adopted internationally told me that six months is great milestone, but a year is when you go, "Oh, so that's who you are."  We can't wait to get to know her even better!

First moments together

Almost ready to leave China

First night in the US (3/13)

One month home--it was so fun to see her do the same things Katie and Luke did.  (4/11)

Sister morning hair (5/15)

Squished!  (6/7)

Hanging out at the zoo (7/25)

First cider of the year (9/4)

Oh, that black thing in my face.  Better not smile.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tell the Stories, Part 2: Mistakes

I'm looking at Liz right now.  She's gotten her baby set up so she can 'read' a book to her.  She's babbling away, and just grabbed her baby's hand to point at a picture.  What a change from 6 months ago, when she had no idea what to do with books or babies.  

I definitely made some mistakes that contributed to my malaise.  In hindsight, I want to go back and shake myself.  :)

1.  We cleared our whole schedule in preparation for Liz coming, and that was the first mistake.  We didn't want to take Liz a lot of places at the beginning, so I was home most days.  We also didn't want to put her in childcare for at least a few months, so no Bible study for me, and every other week I had her in the cry room for the sermon.  I think most people wanted to give us space, which is good and what the books say to do, but that meant I was home alone in a challenging situation with three kids most of the time.  Don't do that!  You'll go crazy!  

David had plenty of vacation.  He easily could have stayed home on Wednesday mornings so I could go to Bible study.  I also should have asked more people to come over and hang out with me.  And, you know, I wasn't blogging as an outlet either.  :)

2.  I wanted to be open and flexible to how Liz would react and behave when we go home, but I should have made a schedule for our days.  This is classic new baby, I'm out of ideas and going crazy 101, but when you're sleep deprived and actually feel crazy, you forget these things.  So I'd just hang out with the kids and by 10, I'd be thinking, "it's only 10?!"  A basic schedule would have been helpful for all of us.  

3.  I was between knitting projects, and I stopped working out because I didn't know how to run with three kids, and I was tired.  I tried to run, once, but it didn't work very well.  Here are two things that make me happier and less stressed, and I wasn't doing them.  I should have had a big, mindless knitting project ready for when I get home.  If I'd had a schedule that included "Go for a walk," that would have taken care of the exercising.  

So I basically removed from my life all the things that would help me stay sane.  Why would you do that?!  We'd have good days and bad days.  When I was at a loss for what to do, or feeling crazy, I ended up drifting over to the iPad and binge reading books or finding something to play.  Not that reading is bad (obviously), and candy crush in moderation is fine, but escapism wasn't addressing the problems at all.

I remember getting in the car one night to drive to choir, and "My Lighthouse" was playing.  It really struck a chord--I was out to sea, but I was NOT alone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tell the Stories, Part 1

...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Phil. 2:12b-13

This is a long story, hence the "Part 1."  It's basically the story of the first few months that Liz came home (which is a big gap in this blog!), but it's also an ongoing story.  I mean, it's really the story of my life, in that verse right there, which tends to come to the fore from time to time.

But every story has to start to be told, so here's the start of it...

When we got home with Liz, I remember telling people at church how everything was going amazingly well, considering all that could go wrong.  And it really was--Liz had already bonded well with us, the kids were doing great with her, and her development was so much farther along that we expected.  I know so many people prayed for us and for Liz, and all those prayers were answered.

I think by the end of the first month home, the glow had worn off and I was beginning to feel pretty overwhelmed.  Looking back, I can definitely see some of the mistakes I made in terms of how I spent my time (or didn't spend my time).  I think a lot of people would agree with me that the transition from two to three kids is hard, and I jumped in with the whole international adoption thing too.

Here's the wasn't that bad.  In the grand scheme of things, I would step back and think, "things could be so much worse."  And in that perspective, I felt like I was really failing, because if I was so overwhelmed and struggling with such an 'easy' adoption, what would it be like if we'd had a really hard one?

I wondered if maybe God gave me a simple adoption because he knew I wouldn't be able to handle anything more complicated.  I wanted to feel like I could walk on water, but instead I felt like I was drowning and there was no strength to pull me up.

And I wanted it all fixed.  I wanted the second half of that verse up there.  I wanted God to do His thing, give me the joy, make it all better.  After all, that was the deal.  We do this crazy thing, and God gives us the strength to deal with everything that goes down.

Of course, I kind of ignored the first part of the verse...

Friday, September 5, 2014

September in New Mexico

Every year around this time, I'd start smelling the delicious, mouthwatering aroma of roasting green chiles, and ever year, I'd groan at the thought of dealing with 25 lbs.  If you buy that much, they'll roast them for free.  I supposed we could buy less and roast it ourselves, but really, it's a good deal.

I must have mentioned this to several people, because they all told me that no one deals with 25 lbs at a time.  You portion out the whole roasted chiles into ziploc bags, toss them in the freezer, and deal with them when you use them.  That sounded pretty easy to me, and after dealing with so many peaches (and now apples from my friend's tree), I wanted to do easy.

My mistake was buying the green chiles when David was home on Monday.  Do you want to know what 25 lbs of peeled, seeded, and chopped chiles looks like?  Because I have a picture of it.  18 cups, if you're wondering, or about 3/4 cup per lb of chiles.

David's operating attitude is "why put off what you can do right now?"  I hope and pray the kids pick up on that, instead of my more typical "what HAS to be done now?"  He was mostly concerned that I wouldn't use them if they weren't ready to go, but I thought we could at least try it the easy way the first year?  Nope.  At least he worked just as hard (if not harder, since I took an hour nap in the middle) at prepping them.  And it is nice to have little 1/2 cup pucks of green chiles in the freezer.

Our favorite use for them is green chile stew...most authentic NM recipes seem to have potatoes in them, but the potatoes can get a little mealy if you freeze them.  So I use this recipe (which is beef instead of pork), and we eat it over rice/beans/potatoes or just with biscuits.  Yum!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Birthday Girl

Some had a birthday this week!

Birthday breakfast at IHOP--no matter what we have going on, we always need to eat breakfast!

Birthday card from Marmee, with balloons on the front.

Katie and Luke decided Liz needed a bear cake (she has a bear doll that she really likes).

She loved it!  Sadly, it was an excellent cake...which makes a too tempting snack for Mama.  I used a high-altitude recipe from High Altitude Bakes; so far, I've had great success with her recipes.  

I'm not sure what to do with this?

Aha!  Playdough toys from Marmee.  :)

She also received a little tricycle from the family and some dress-up clothes from Grandma.  I'm not sure that Liz really knew what to make of all the birthday celebrating, but we all had lots of fun!