Friday, March 23, 2012

Poured Out, Worn Out and Filled Again


Day begins with oldest daughter's alarm blaring.  She is not at home this morning because she slept over at a friend's house last night.  It is 7:24 a.m.  Time for any respectable person to be out of bed and well on the way to beginning the day.  But I am not.  I am clawing for any extra minutes of sleep before day begins.   Praying that the alarm in the room that also holds two little girls, does not wake them.  Knowing that it would be a miracle for it not to.  Jump out of bed and run to turn it off, realizing that there is no escaping the day at hand, yet ever-hopeful.  Just 15 more minutes, Lord.  Mercifully, they do not wake up.  That, in itself, is a minor miracle (if there is such a thing).

Later, at the breakfast table, young daughter starts the day with complaining.  Ever complaining.  Never enough.  Not the right kind of cereal, not the right shoes, not the right shirt, not the right snack. 
Breathe.   And pray.  And remember to smile. Will she get to me today?  Not today . . . she will not.

A gentle answer turns away wrath

Drop her off at school and head home to seven kids waiting.  School calls.  Math and grammar and Bible and writing.  Laundry calls.  Load upon load upon load.  Younger daugher wet her bed last night.  Again.  More sheets and blankets to wash.  I walk into my laundry room and I swear some days I hear laughing.  Mocking from the machines standing at attention.  "Did you really think you'd get caught up?" 

My flesh wants to be mean to her.  My flesh is TIRED of washing sheets, yet doesn't want to give in to Pull-Ups.  Her eyes dance way too happy with the mention of wearing baby pants.  Not going down that road with a little girl who is almost four.  Not going backwards.  So I paste on a smile and load the sheets into the machine.

A gentle answer turns away wrath

Later in the day and it's time to pick up young daughter from school.  Will she be happy?  She hops in the car, all smiles and happy to see me and "Mama, today was a good day!"  Thank you, Lord, for this.  Home again and within minutes she is not happy.  All full again of never enough.  Sitting on chair, scowl on face, and yet showing incredible restraint.  A few short weeks ago she would have been writhing on the floor, crying and making life miserable for any person within earshot.  Thank you, Lord, for this.

Off the chair, happy again, out the door to play.  Ah, sweet silence in the midst of this beautiful day.  Five minutes pass, happy face fades to black.  My flesh?  It would love nothing more than to lash out.  I have had more than enough.  More than enough scowling.  More than enough complaining.  More than enough it's never enough.  Oh, the thoughts that roll like thunder through my mind. 

And I confess, my answer is not gentle. 

New son, ever quiet and like pulling teeth to get him to talk. some days.  Today though, he has decided to use that silence to rebel.  Gets in a fight with younger son and refuses to talk to me.  Refuses.  I wonder for a brief second if the child has gone mute.  Hmmmm . . . Dad is out of town for the week and I will admit I have taken a back seat to disciplining this son.  Dad has been the bad guy here.  Today though, there is no dad to deal with him so it's all me.  One more chance, one more request and still silence.  Later in the evening, he plays a game of Sorry with the younger boys.  He is getting beat fair and square and is a sore loser so he takes his arm and swipes it hard across the game board.  Pieces fly and game is over and he retreats in silence to his room.  Younger boys crying and confused by this ten year old who acts more like seven. 

When I return from soccer practice, the stories fly.  I missed the game incident, but there are plenty of eye-witnesses to fill me in on the details.  Said son is nowhere to be found.  I call for him and he ambles out into the kitchen.  A look of innocence and that blank stare I am growing tired of.  He knows he is in trouble, but still he retreats behind those eyes.  He is here and ever-present and yet he is not.  He has learned to feign an inability to speak English when it will be to his benefit.  I see in his eyes a flash of rebellion and I know what he is doing and I know what he has been doing all this time.  And I am annoyed beyond words and my flesh wants to shake him and yell, "Talk to me and use English or suffer the consequences!"

A gentle answer turns away wrath

And baby is sick.  Is she a baby?  She still is to me.  Holding fast to these last baby days.  Cheeks all chubby, golden ringlets and all full of "Mama, hold me".  And yes, you'd better believe the answer is "Yes".  I will hold her for as long as I can.

And I am worn out.  I am.  It is the wrestling of flesh.  The dying to self in all of  us.  I am keenly aware that every single person in this house is on the floor, sleeves rolled up, pants ripped and rolled up and wrestling.  Oh, the dying-to-my-way-right-this-minute, hurts.  Physically hurts.  I am reminded of Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader when he has been turned into a dragon.  And I can feel the skin and the scales being peeled off of him by Aslan.  And I know, we all know, that we are in the midst of being peeled away at and it hurts.  And oh, how we all want to lash out and run away and escape the pain.  But we cannot and deep down, with each day that passes, we know that we must not.  We are all beginning to see that under those scales there is new skin.  And the getting to it hurts, but it is more beautiful than the old and the pain to get there is so totally worth it.

And I crawl into bed tonight.  Eighteen hours later and yes, I am tired.  But I am not defeated.  And I am not without hope.  Because even with all of the day's challenges, I can see beauty rising up in this house.  And it is real.  And it is not perfect.  But the One who is sustains us is and He is writing a beautiful story inside these walls.  He most certainly is.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his GLORY, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."   - John 1:14, 16

Friday, March 16, 2012


This week we celebrated Ben's birthday. His first ever birthday cake, first ever birthday gifts, first ever LOUD and joyful rendition of "Happy Birthday".   It was a very good day.

The weather was nice so we spent the afternoon outside taking photos and waiting on Dad to get home. 

Susannah, trying her best to persuade me to slip her a cupcake before the party . . .  hard to resist.

Ava and Zane . . . waiting on the rest of the crew to show up for a group photo  . . .

Georgia . . . just up from her nap and so.very.happy. that cake was in her near future!  Love the wild bedhead.  :-)

Olivia . . .  it is such a joy to see her grow into a beautiful young woman.  She's usually the one behind the camera, but I caught her off guard this day and captured a really great shot of who she is.

Phoebe . . . silly, exasperating, LOUD, energetic, full-of-life Phoebe.  Proof of one of three things:  God has a really interesting sense of humor . . . OR . . . He has way more confidence in my ability to parent than I do . . . OR . . . He's sent a special little girl to show me my weak spots.  She will either be the death of me or help me become a much, MUCH more patient woman.  Anyone want to make a wager?

And, the rest of the crew . . .  Oh, my  heart.  I love each and every one of them so much.  It has been an indescribable privilege to see them grow up, and now to see them stretch and grow and welcome each other as brothers and sisters.  God is good.

The day was really great and Ben, well, the boy was beside himself with excitement in anticipation of opening all those gifts.  In our family, all of the kids go on a shopping trip with me to pick out gifts for the birthday boy or girl.  They each get a $5.00 budget and get to be as creative as possible with that money.  Surprisingly, they pick out some really great stuff.  This is when being in a big family REALLY pays off.  You're guaranteed 10 sibling gifts AND gifts from Mom and Dad!  Makes all those annoying siblings totally worth it.  :-)

Lovin' being in the birthday seat and wearing the hat . . .

This year, some of them decided to pool their money and buy something bigger. Ben LOVES soccer and will start his first ever soccer practice for his first ever team next week, so soccer gear was on his list. (So was a motorcycle.  The boy has expensive taste and isn't afraid to tell us. His dad replied with, "I have three letters for you pal . . . J - O - B!") 

First practice next week and he's dying to lace up the cleats and strap on the shin guards.

And the best gift of all?  His first ever bicycle.  Oh, to be able to hold the memory of his face when he laid eyes on this.  Not sure there's ever been a happier boy.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

There Was an Old (ish) Woman Who Lived . . .

Today was a beautiful day and a first-time-ever celebration.  More on that tomorrow, but thought I'd share our first candid photos of all the kids together.  Wow!  A lot of kids and oh, such fun.  These aren't the greatest, but it's a LOT of work to get eleven to kids to look at the camera all at once.  Smiles . . . well, almost everyone cooperated.  A certain little boy was ticked off that he had to stand one step below a certain little girl.  Up until today I'm pretty sure he was certain he was older.  :-)  

Luckily, he doesn't hold a grudge for long.  :-)

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Since bringing our new kiddos home, we've been on a bit of a learning curve when it comes to hair.  Thankfully, we have some really great AA friends who have shared their secrets for great hair and we're starting to get it down (I think!).  Hair has become much more of a daily focus around here. No more quick brush-it-out, throw-it-in-a-ponytail-and-go. Now we have misting and moisturizing and sometimes puffs. Can't just brush and go with the new girls. 

The girlie side of me loves having all these new products to try out and two sweet little girls to practice on.  Luckily, they're game for it.  Hoping by practicing now, they'll be used to sitting still when their hair grows out and is ready for more complicated styling.  And now, our 'normal'-haired girl, Georgia Boo, wants mama to put a little of that shea butter in her hair!  Jealous, jealous, jealous!

I came across this video on fellow adoptive mom's blog when I was looking for more hair ideas.  It is so funny, but also really clever and leads right to the best place of all.  Gotta love that . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brothers and Sisters

The three littles havin' some fun . . .  

Sisters . . .

And this guy . . . 

. . . he's got nothing on her!

Life is a crazy kind of fun right now . . .

Hope you all have a great weekend!