Friday, December 31, 2010
It was a year of growth, trust, pain, longing, frustration, fear, anticipation, JOY, heartache, learning, loving... It was a year I never want to forget, but I also would not like to relive.
There were moments when I wondered if I would make it. I doubted that I had the strength to get through - and indeed I DID NOT. I did not have even close to enough strength on my own, but when I truly and totally relied on God, HIS strength carried me. That was really the theme of my year, one that I had to learn and relearn and then relearn yet again. I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO FOLLOW GOD'S WILL ON MY OWN. (Maybe in all caps and bold it will soak fully into my being!)
As I think through the year, this song keeps playing through my mind.
Blessed be HIS name, no matter the circumstances - because He uses each and every circumstance for the good of those that follow Him and are called according to His purpose. (See Romans 8:28)
Thank you sweet patient Father! Blessed be Your name.
***My dear friends,
Thank you for walking through 2010 with me. Thank you for praying for me, encouraging me, and loving me. Thank you for sometimes being satisfied with reading my blog instead to hearing it from me. Thank you for being patient and kind. Thank you for helping Krissy come with to Ethiopia. Thank you for so fully embracing my entire family. I needed you more than you will ever know. Each prayer whispered, every smile or hug of understanding, every meal dropped off, every phone call, text, email, and card came just at the right time. God used each of you to carry me though. I love you.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
As a grown-up, my birthday is sometimes a struggle. Not because I hate aging. I really do not mind that one bit. My birthday is a struggle because I long to be a child with no responsibilities again. I long for a day to do whatever I want. A day to think only about myself - but I am called to serve my children and to do my job. Taking a day off from either one this time of year just isn't a possibility... and that is where the inner struggle begins.
I joked with Chad all last week that what I wanted for my birthday was a long shower by myself. I had to giggle this morning as Joshua cruised in and out of the bathroom as I showered wanting to "tell you something" or "show you something." For a moment I was irritated, but then I remembered that only last year I was rushing to complete dossier paperwork on my birthday so I could get it to FedEx bright and early the next morning. Wanting so badly to have everything in place so that the little boy that God had so clearly placed on my heart did not have to wait because of any delays I could prevent. Oh how quickly I take things for granted.
That was my theme for the day, fluctuating between grumbling about having to be responsible and then being grateful for how good I have things. I did have to work today, but I am able to work from HOME and it was only a few hours. I did spend A LOT of time listening to and sorting out arguments between my children, but I am so thankful I have each and every personality in our household. I did not get a shower by myself, but I have the extreme joy to be the one to listen to Joshua's stories and tuck him in each night.
I did have a wonderful visit with 2 different girlfriends today. I did get to go out for dinner at my favorite restaurant tonight. I did receive many thoughtful gifts. I did get to listen to my kids sing Happy Birthday to me and eat the yummy cake that Krissy baked me.
And this is a special birthday to me. I am 36 today. The first birthday that I celebrated with Chad was my 18th - so as of today I have spent exactly half of my birthdays with my best friend.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
After we got the coffee maker perking, I asked if he would like to see if there were presents in his stocking?
At that he moved a bit closer to check out his stash.
He finally dared to touch them. Oh so funny! Most kids you have to tie down just so you can get your camera. Not Joshua - this year anyway!
He thought mommy should be in a picture too. This is our 6:30 AM Christmas morning self-portrait. Only for you Gubs!
In an attempt to keep him quiet a little longer, I let him open one gift from his stocking.
It was a zhu zhu pet. He was thrilled because Brenna has them which makes them really cool! So we played zhu zhu pet as quietly as possible.
Sierra was next up. I fixed her hot cocoa, her favorite.
Joshua had to try it too. He much prefers coffee!
Some Christmas morning love!
"Joshua help you!" aka "I did it!"
For the record, I was the only one over the age of 11 outside!
The kids had just a little bit of time to warm up before lunch. Here is what we found when we went to call them to the table.Precious!
Grandma planned birthday cupcakes for baby Jesus. Each grandchild received a birthday horn to toot and a cupcake with a lit candle to blow out. It was really, really fun!
This is Joshua when he finally got his horn to toot. He was so excited!
Sierra blowing out her candle.
After lunch, Joshua and I drove home for a nap. While I enjoyed some quiet, Grandpa was hard at work!This is how you sled way up north - behind the John Deer. The kids had a ball!
I woke up Joshua and returned just in time for him to try the wii.He is really not coordinated enough yet to push the right buttons, so Krissy gave him a remote to hold, while she played for him right behind him.
He was very proud of his success! It was a hoot!
It was FINALLY present time!
Joshua thought Grandpa's Viking snuggy was funny!
This picture was taken at Joshua's request. He told me, "Grandma hold you Joshua. Mommy take a picture!"Joshua was really excited to give Grandpa his tractor hat. Joshua says it is "fancy!"
By the end of the gift opening, Joshua was fully enjoying tearing paper. He insisted my final gift - a pair of leather gloves was the "whole family's" - how could there be paper to tear and it not be for him?
Grandpa and Joshua had some fun playing tractors. They were loading poop. Joshua thinks the only thing a John Deer tractor can haul is manure, since it is the only thing he has seen Grandpa haul. Jamison was not enthused about the poop hauling.
After supper we played Bingo - a tradition passed down from my dad's Grandmother.
Here is Grandpa calling numbers.
Serious BINGO players
Happy BINGO player - see what he has won? A pop and a ring sucker - BINGO was fun! Except that you had to sit still and you could only choose one prize each time.
More serious BINGO players
Well BINGO did not last too long for this little man. When he started to get rowdy, we went upstairs to put on a concert for Grandma while she cleaned up.
Joshua, Jamison, and I left earlier than the rest. We went home, unloaded Christmas gifts, and got one tired toddler into the bath!
Whew!!!!! No wonder I was totally exhausted last night. That was a BUSY day! (FUN too, of course!) I was out like a light by 10:15 - about 15 minutes after Joshua!
Thanks mom and dad for another wonderful Christmas Day!
Today we rested. We did not leave the house. We did not cook anything difficult. We just played, snuggled, and put things away. It felt wonderful!
Friday, December 24, 2010
So we started Christmas early as all of Chad's siblings, his mom, and all the grandkids were able to hang out (and take some group pics) on Friday afternoon and evening. Pictures may not be a favorite activity, but we had so much fun the rest of the night! It was so fun to talk and laugh with Chad's family.
This is Joshua and his new favorite "toy" Molly. He loved playing with Molly. Poor patient Molly! When we told Joshua Molly was tired of him walking her (really dragging her around the house on her leash) he figured he could hold her (really keep her captive) in the dolly playpen.
Oh, I wish you could have all watched mt family playing with the Kinnect system. It was so funny! I seriously start laughing thinking about it! I will keep most of the pictures in the family, but here is a glimpse of Uncle Reed, a true track star, ready to take on Sierra in a Kinnect race. Hilarious! Uncle Reed made a sneaky video of Aunty Teresa and Aunty Emily which I will never be allowed to post - but rest assured there was much laughter involved!
The adults do a white elephant gift exchange. One gift has "reappeared" each year. This year Uncle Jim was the lucky recipient of the "Monkey Butt Bath Set." This is probably only funny if you are family, but for family it is a hoot!
It was a good day! It was a good mix between a quite morning and a wild afternoon/evening.
Having a big crowd over has gotten so much easier, but I am still very aware of how Joshua is doing. Is he feeling safe? Is he feeling connected to me? Is he hugging person "x" because he wants to and feels safe? Or is it out of insecurity? Or is it because he feels "expected" to? Is he checking in with me? Or is he taking care of himself and feeling unsupported?
This watching and questioning has become part of parenting for both Chad and myself. We discussed it after everyone left. How we both watched Joshua be "passed" around more than we have ever allowed while wondering... Wondering if he was really OK. Wondering if it would cause a sleepless night, rejection of us tomorrow, or nothing.
I would watch him climb on one persons lap and think, good choice, you know this person well. I would watch him choose not to go to another person and think - good job! You know who you do and do not know. And then a cousin would walk in (that he had never met) and he would throw himself in her arms and I would worry a bit. Not like I have in the past, because he is so much more secure in his relationship with me, but still wonder...
This all struck me extra much as I watched other family members comfortably drop their little ones in the arms of an aunt or uncle the babe had not seen in months with ease and confidence. I too have done that in the past. And it was OK. It was easy. It was natural. It was expected. It was comfortable.
I miss that. I miss being glad to drop my child in the loving arms of family members and walking away without a concern. I question myself as much as others have questioned me. I do not always have all the answers. I shoot from the hip a lot! (And we must be doing a few things right, because we see Joshua becoming more and more connected and confident all the time.)
So... even though I do not have the same casual attidute about Joshua's interactions as I did with his older siblings - we are doing OK, more than OK, we are doing super! Joshua emerged happily and easily after the dust settled. He asked for the final family members to "beep ,beep" as they drove away and then went on with his play just the same as always. He was happy to have the house quiet. He was not needy or winy or pushing me away. He ate a HUGE supper (eating with a crowd is still a little hard), took a bath, and went to sleep nicely.
We are making it! He is awesome, but more importantly he is becoming confident. What a blessing that is!
One more Christmas to go! Santa is NOT coming - but mommy and daddy will fill the kids' stockings with treats tonight. Then after stockings and breakfast tomorrow, we head to my mom and dad's house. We had five kids sleeping by 8:45 tonight. So hopefully they will all be rested and ready for another fun day!
Thanks Hoffs for a wonderful day! Thanks for all the yummy food and all the work you did as I played! I am so blessed by my wonderful in-laws!