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Vacation Withdrawal

caboTwo weeks ago, my husband and I went on vacation. Just the two of us.

It was a perfect, perfect time in Mexico. We spent our days eating tacos, drinking coffee, talking about theology and walking along the beach. So, it was basically the same stuff we always do, with a lot better scenery. And a lot less children.

We came home to the busyness of Easter weekend, followed by the big kids’ spring break. Two weeks ago feels like two years ago.

Guys, we have never done a vacation like that before. So I didn’t know.

I didn’t know how bad the withdrawals would be.

When I look at my pictures, I feel a nostalgic ache in my heart. When I open my cupboard and see the bag of coffee from the coffee shop we discovered, a twinge of sadness passes over me.

I unpacked my luggage (two weeks later, because I’m a stellar housekeeper). One of my shirts smelled like the aroma therapy lotion from the spa we visited and it was just TOO MUCH.

Yesterday, I was watching a TV show set in the Caribbean and the scenery… I couldn’t even handle it!

I left my heart in Cabo.

But it’s OK. We have plans to go back.

In like 10 years.

Sigh.

beach

San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers

Father/Friend

One night, not long ago, during family devotions, the book we were going through asked the question, “Do you think of Jesus as a friend?”

father and son matching outfit formal semi formal from flickrIsaiah answered, “I think of him more as a father. But like a father that’s our friend. Like how Daddy is our father and our friend.”

Our father and our friend. Let that sink in for a moment. This is who God is.

Sometimes I think we paint God as a father who is angry and just wants us to pull it together. Or we go the other way and think of him as our buddy to kick back with. No responsibilities, just junk food and video games.

But he is neither a dictator nor is he our bro.

He cares that skittles are our favorite and that the guy at work really hurt our feelings. But he also believes we can be so much more than we’re shooting for, so he’s always stretching us and encouraging us to be who we’re supposed to be.

He is a father and a friend.

Conversations with my kids make it clear why Jesus told us we needed to have the heart of a child to come into the Kingdom.

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Hard Things, Survival and the Big Kids

Guys, I’m not going to lie. We’re in a hard season right now. There are just so many people (and animals) in our house. And so many things that need to be done every day. Lunches, and homework, and diapers, and baths, and naps, and laundry… And so much noise. Always the noise.

I have a sneaking suspicion that everything feels really big right now because we are sleep deprived. Probably, when all the kids are in school (or at least potty trained), I’ll be the one saying to sleepless new moms, “Enjoy it now, because it goes so fast.” Or, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Because I’ll have already forgotten how hard it really is.

But when the Lord asks us to do hard things, He gives grace.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetOf all the grace we’ve been given, I cherish the grace given to our big kids the most.

Those people, who fight over the Xbox and argue about taking baths, can somehow serenely roll with the real stuff.

When we adopted Enoch and Phoebe, Isaiah and Leah’s comfortable little world was invaded by a couple of loud, needy babies.

As an adult, I could see so much room for the big kids to complain. The babies have completely changed our way of life and their needs come before anything else. They cry and they make us late (OK, that’s mostly me, but babies have made it worse). They get all the attention. We don’t even go out as often, because it’s just too much.

But Isaiah and Leah just love those babies with everything in them.

Leah’s baby calming tactic is to sing them songs she makes up on the spot. The lyrics typically involve some combo of the following:

Don’t worry baby.
You will always be in our family.
We love you so much.
You are our baby.
You’ll never be alone.

IMG_4133Lately Enoch has been in full-blown toddler specialness. The other day, I was feeling pretty done with all the chasing and the whine-diffusing and the crisis averting. But I got a perspective shift when Isaiah, who was playing with Enoch, looked up at me and said with a laugh, “It’s so fun having babies!”

I’ve also been amazed by the big kids’ grace to unconditionally accept these new little people as equal members in the sibling group. They have NEVER questioned if Enoch and Phoebe are their “real” brother and sister. That hasn’t even been on the table.

Isaiah and I were discussing the concept of ancestors the other day. I was holding Phoebe, and Isaiah expounded, “Phoebe has a lot of ancestors. She has her ancestors and she has ancestors from our family.”

Of course she does. But the fact that it seems normal to him is so beautiful to me.

I’m not saying they never complain about having to hold a baby so I can cook dinner. But in the grand scheme, it’s so delightful to watch the big kids’ open hearts, fueled by a grace that’s beyond than themselves.

Grace doesn’t necessarily make the hard things less hard. But it weaves an undeniable beauty into the story.

And when we come out the other side of the hard times, the beauty is what remains.

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Why You Should Complain on Facebook

I had a bad day recently.

The big kids’ school was delayed 2 hours, which kind of threw everything off. So I was rushing to get to Enoch’s pediatrician appointment. But the Interstate backed up, so I took the exit before my exit, thinking Siri could reroute me. Instead, she kept trying to make me do a u-turn to get back on the backed-up Interstate. Somehow I ended up on hilly back-roads that hadn’t been plowed, which caused me to almost slide into another car.

By this time, I was completely late for the appointment, and was forced to reschedule for later in the day. Which meant I had to go home, get the babies out of the car for an hour and then reload them in again. The new appointment was at Enoch’s nap time. So, of course, he had a meltdown.

And when I came out of the doctor, there was a note on my windshield, because someone had sideswiped me. Seriously.

My general philosophy of handling a day like this is to find the irony and laugh it off.

So I posted this on social media:

baddaycarnitas

I really wasn’t trying to whine. Mostly, I was discussing the awesomeness of Carnitas.

But now I know.

Now I know why some people spend the majority of their time complaining on Facebook. Or better yet, throwing out vague angst, like, “I just can’t take this anymore!”

It totally works!

Everyone completely ignored the humor and Carnitas and went right for the sympathy! I had friends offering to come over and take care of the kids and other friends volunteering to do my housework (why in the world did I turn that one down?!). Moms and grandmas, with years of experience, assured me it would get better.

It’s days later, and people are STILL checking on me.

I just had no idea. I’ve always tried to keep my social media updates cheerful, or better yet, funny. I’m even open to doing thought-provoking. But whiny? I never realized how much mileage there was in that.

I mean, you all are really awesome!

Oh. And those of you that offered to help? I’ve got a list of names and I’m not afraid to use it! Mwhahaha.

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Mom’s Day Out (to avoid insanity)

tiredlucyGuys, my sanity has been gradually unraveling. It has a lot to do with not sleeping for the past 17 months.

So I had a mental health day.

(Which means I spent the majority of the day with no kids.)

For you moms who haven’t had a childless day in 5 years, let me tell you what I did, so you can live vicariously through me.

First, I took a shower. No one interrupted. (I did have to break up a small fight between the big kids at the end, but who’s being picky?)

Next, I met my husband for lunch. No one tried to grab my plate and send it crashing to the floor. No one whined for bites of my food. No one interrupted our conversation. We actually sat in the bar area at a table with tall chairs, because we didn’t even need a highchair.

We ran an errand together, where we both got out of the car and walked right into the store. Neither of us stayed behind with whiny small people. We didn’t have to bring car seats or unstrap toddler seat-belts. We just got out of the car and walked in.

After Chris went back to work, things got really interesting.

I went swimsuit shopping.

Guys. I have no words for this experience. Is there anything more demoralizing to womankind?

OK, yes. I found out how to make it worse: I had a gift certificate to a store geared towards 15 year old girls who weigh 90 lbs. And I went there. For a swimsuit.

Just don’t EVER do that.

Apparently everything about me is wrong. Even my torso is too long. How can your torso be too long for stretchy Lycra? And half of me is one size and the other half is the next size up. Not the preferred halves. DRAT YOU, PEAR SHAPE!

I shook the dust off of my feet and went to the store beloved by all moms: Target.

It was still bad-ish, but manageable. And the lighting was more flattering, which helped a lot.

But, did you know Target only lets you take 6 items into the dressing room? I need way more than 6 tries to find a suit that covers all my important bits, without making me look 75 years old. And since it was the coldest day in the history of everything, I had about 5 layers on. After a few times of undressing and redressing, I was really tempted to wrap my coat around my almost naked, too-long torso to pick out the next suits to try.

Eventually I selected the least offensive option, and then I walked in the makeup aisles. Just because I could. No one grabbed the nail polishes. No one begged for Bonnie Bell (actually, do they still make that? I can’t keep up.) No one moaned about how bored they were.

I didn’t buy any makeup. It was enough to be able to look at my leisure. I did grab some “feminine products” that were on clearance, because this was my exciting day out.

After purchasing my swimsuit and girl stuff, I went to the in-store Starbucks (which we un-affectionatley call “Tarbucks.”) I ordered an awful Americano and sat at one of the 3 tables, reading Facebook and listening to other people’s kids have meltdowns. Because, you KNOW I wasn’t going to go home until I had to.

Finally my personal day came to a close and I drove home to my children.

And you know what? My babies are beautiful!!!

Phoebe is so sweet and smiley and adorably chubby. Enoch is hilarious with all of his cute antics. Leah is full of imagination and wonder. Isaiah is creative and constantly strategizing genius things to do.

I just needed to be away from them to really appreciate them.

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Yoga Pants and Modesty and Having Daughters

Apparently yoga pants have broken the Internet again. The Christian part of it, anyway.

teensfriendswimAll of the defenses and rebuttals to the most recent “I don’t wear yoga pants,” blog have been far more interesting than the blog itself. On one side we have: “Women should cover up every single curve, because modest is hottest!” The other side is all: “The purity culture shames women into thinking it’s their job to protect men from lusting. So I have the right to wear whatever I want.” Both extremes are… extreme.

(And there are many who land in the middle, with really good points, so I’m not throwing their babies out with the bathwater.)

I 100% agree that it’s not a woman’s job to keep men from lusting. I mean, I’m pretty sure if we all wore burkas or mom-jeans, guys would still find a way to lust if they were set on it.

But swinging the pendulum the other way, like we think we should be able to show up at work in a bikini or go out to dinner in the nude or whatever, is missing the point too.

So if it’s not our job to “protect” men from their sin, why should we cover up some of our womanly assets?

The answer to that question is basically the same reason I never post naked pictures of my babies on social media. Am I trying to protect some pedophile from sinning? Absolutely not. I am protecting my babies, because no one has a right to look at them that way.

And I kind of feel the same about the whole yoga pants/modesty/purity culture debate, because I have a daughter that’s rocketing towards preteen.

I don’t think I’ve ever said the word “modesty” to her, and probably never will. Our conversations are more like, “Lady, you need to put some shorts under your 2-sizes-too-small dress, because everyone doesn’t need to see your panties.” Or, “Girly, that shirt hangs awkward. Either put a tank top underneath or pick something different.”

Why? Because l want to protect some dude from lusting? No. Because SHE is valuable and beautiful. And no lecherous eyes have a right to her.

Society tells my girl she is a sex object. I don’t care how enlightened and feministic we think we are, this message still rings out so strong to women. As she gets older, media is going to consistently yell in her face that the more skin she shows, the more desirable she is. I want to hand her something better.

She doesn’t have to be half naked to be gorgeous. She is beautiful in her track pants and a tee. Or her striped skirt paired with a flowered top. Or her plain school uniform.

Since when did dressing in micro-minis and mid-drift tops become women-empowering, anyway? Why are we so afraid to tell girls that they’re more than how sexy they can look?

I want my daughter to know that respecting herself is beautiful.

If that means I continue to encourage her toward something akin to “modesty,” I’m ok. Because she is too precious to be on open display.

She is worth it.

picstitch

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Martin Luther King Day, Adoption, and Brotherhood

A few days ago, I posted this:

I want to expand that thought a little.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other freedom fighters of the 50’s and 60’s changed America. But it’s even closer to home for me.

Martin Luther King said:

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

“I have a dream that… one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Dr. King’s life and words resonate with our family, because his ideology simply reiterates what Scripture has been telling us for thousands of years.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” Revelation 7:9

“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

The equality of all races is not a politically correct trend. It is a basic human issue. It is a spiritual value.

For our family, transracial adoption is a way we are able to tangibly live Dr. King’s dream of walking the earth as brothers.

Can I be blunt? We have no desire to whitewash our Black kids. We don’t want to save them from Blackness. They do not need to be rescued by a white family. That type of ignorance makes me sick to my stomach.

Instead, we are honored to have our children’s heritage mingled with our own. Our ideals are reshaped as we welcome their culture into our family landscape. They don’t conform to us. We all conform to each other. Isn’t that what true brotherhood is about?

On this Martin Luther King Day, I am grateful for the legacy and sacrifice of Dr. King. I’m grateful for the words he put around an uncompromisable value. I’m grateful that he helped lead the fight for brotherhood in America. And my heart is full with the brotherhood that we can live in our own home.

I don’t believe the fight is over, but I’m glad someone was brave enough to help it begin.

Thank you, Dr. King.

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Questions

Annoying noiseYou know how people say, “There is no such thing as a dumb question”? I guess that’s true. But man, my kids ask some annoying ones.

OK, I’m not the most patient mom ever, so maybe they get under my skin too easy. But, like every day? Do they have to ask the same question every day?

I can’t even sort these by level of annoyance, because they ALL kill me.

What are we doing tonight?

They barely get their legs all the way in the car after school and they throw this one out. The introvert in me wants to scream, “You’ve been DOING stuff all day! Why in the world don’t you just want to go home and sit on the couch?!” They’re kind of scared to ask at this point, but it still doesn’t stop them.

“Mommy…” They squirm for a bit, while I say, “What? WHAT?!” repeatedly, waiting for the conversation to go somewhere.

Finally they quit wiggling and blurt out, “Are we going anywhere tonight?”

“Gahhhh!” is normally how I reply. So they try texting Daddy, hoping he’s more easy to wear down.

What’s for dinner?

I hate this one for two reasons.

First, most of my recipe names mean nothing to them. If I say “Ropa Viaja,” or “Southwest Turkey Sliders,” they don’t even know what I’m talking about. So it’s a pointless question, leaving them with no more information than when they started. Typically I just say, “Meat in sauce with some salad.” And they say, “UGHHGGHHGH.”

Which leads to my second complaint about this question. It’s basically an excuse to fuss about how much they will hate dinner. And since they don’t know what “Carnitas” is, they’re just ASSUMING they’ll hate it. I find it demoralizing. Like, you just assume my food will be bad?

Why are you cleaning? Is someone coming over?

I know I’m not the best housekeeper ever. But is it really that bad? Sometimes I just sweep because there is dust and puppy fur in all of the corners. You don’t have to get ugly about it.

But really, this is more of a painful truth kind of question, because usually someone is coming over. I just work better under pressure, OK? I probably would have done some cleaning, guests or no guests. It’s just happening a lot faster because I only have 2 hours until someone knocks on the door.

I know they’re not going to stop asking, so maybe I need some pre-printed cards with answers to these questions:

  1. NO!
  2. Food.
  3. Just. Don’t.

 

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New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions, because self-discipline isn’t my strong point. So why set myself up for failure, you know?

Really, I don’t remember resolving to do ANYTHING in 2014.

But still…

  • We completely changed our diet to a mix of Paleo/primal/low carb. Which means we cut out most grains and processed sugars, and as much processed food as possible (except last month, because CHRISTMAS FOOD). We’ve never felt better, so it’s worth it!
  • I dyed my hair for the first time. Not voluntarily. The grays forced me. It basically looks exactly the same, but requires more maintenance now. Yay.
  • I started putting cream in my coffee. And then someone told me to use heavy whipping cream. Guys. I have no words.
  • We got another baby. Read the whirlwind story here.
  • I started talking about racism, for better or for worse. But the small measure of talking I’ve done is far outweighed by the amount of learning I’ve undergone and continue to press into. It’s a fascinating, sorrowful issue that has gripped my very core.

newbaby2And not one of those things is going away. We will continue to eat paleo/primal. I have to keep dying my hair, because the gray is only going to grow stronger. Cream is my favorite ever. Babies are for life. And racism is still alive and well.

I couldn’t have seen any of this coming (except the hair dye) when 2014 started. I couldn’t have resolved any of this (except to maybe eat healthier). The truly important parts of my year, the parts that change me the most, were completely out of my control.

So for 2015, there are no resolutions. But there is more faith.

Because 2014 grew my confidence:

In a God who knows I’m made of dust.

In a Savior who has experienced what it’s like to be human.

In a Jesus who guides, even when I can’t see what He’s up to.

My own self-discipline will only take me so far (not very). But trusting Jesus seems to lead my feet to places beyond my own simple expectations. If I try to guess, I’ll probably get it wrong. So I’m just going to rest in faith that He has a path already mapped out.

2015 should be interesting, guys. Just like always.

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So We’re a “BIG” Family

I typically try to avoid change. But then it happens, and it’s not so bad. I adjust.

The thought of having two babies made me a bit stressed. But the actual doing of it has been OK. I mean, I just keep making bottles and changing diapers and giving baths and ignoring house work.

And I don’t think about it too much. I rarely remember about how easy it was to leave the house. Or how I used to sleep all night. Or how, a couple of years ago, it was quiet during the day.

Except every once in a while, when something shines a spotlight on our reality.

The other day we were watching Jessie with the kids.

Jessie_castIf you’re wise and have protected your brain from the Disney Channel, I’ll explain: Jessie is the nanny for a multiracial family (you can see what sucked us in!) with a bunch of kids. Their home seems pretty chaotic, with over-the-top antics and ridiculous dilemmas every show.

As we watched, I realized something. To us, their family feels pretty crazy, with kids everywhere. They have four kids.

WE HAVE FOUR KIDS.

I pointed this out to the rest of my four-kid-family and everyone kind of paused in shock for a second. Because we saw them as this huge, chaotic family and we saw us as… OK, it can be pretty crazy around here too.

And I know we’re not the Duggars or anything. In fact, we’re small compared to many families in our adoption community.

But a lot has changed in just over a year. Sometimes it feels like survival is the only goal. But it’s worth it. It’s so, so worth it.

These little people, who have brought all the extra work, have also brought the extra joy. They’ve changed our perspective on life. They’ve pulled new levels of compassion and servanthood out of all of us. Our family wouldn’t be us without them.

The other day, I overheard Isaiah talking to Phoebe. He was “teaching” her to pray:

“First you say, ‘Thank you God.’ Then you ask Jesus to help you. Or you ask Him to help someone else. Or you can just talk about your day. You can talk to Jesus about anything.”

I’ll embrace the chaos for sweet moments like that.

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