Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Family Photos

I love photographs. I have a pipe dream, that some day I will become amazing at taking them.  I love what they capture and the stories they can tell.  We have far too many by most standards and yet I hesitate to delete a single one.  We have so many, I should be on Hoarders for photographs alone.

Family photo shoots, however, haven't always been my favorite.  You go with desperate expectations of trying to capture the "now" and the children screw it up;)

In 2010, we went with our perfectly coordinated outfits to a photo shoot and all I wanted was on of those adorable pictures taken from overhead that were big at that time....and we got this in a variety of forms.

We left the photo shoot with three crying kid, got in the car and I started crying myself.  I was overcome with disappointment, knowing that "perfect photo" for our wall didn't happen.

When the pictures came back, however, I fell in love with this perfectly imperfect photo.  I felt like it was a visual reminder of all God has been teaching me through motherhood.  It still serves as a reminder to me- I have to find joy even in disappointments and embrace the chaos.  As I started to laugh in the photo shoot at how foolhardy I was to think this overhead shot would actually be easy and not one but ALL THREE kids were crying, my husband kissed me.  The photo captured captured how perfectly OUT of control my life often is, but I have this amazing man helping me find joy and supporting me one hundred percent.

In 2011, I was so excited about an outdoor photo shoot we'd scheduled in the morning, my children's best time of day.  I bribed them with the promise of lollipops for good smiles.  After an hour long complete debacle, I left in tears again.  I was certain she didn't get a single good shot and I sobbed telling my husband I must be a terrible mother if my kids can't even cooperate for ONE HOUR of time to get ONE picture.  I remember saying, "A crying photo is funny ONCE but we can't put a second crying photo on our wall!  We may as well have thrown money out the window."

We got the CD with 617 photos a few weeks later and in my amazement there was ONE and I do mean ONE photo that we could keep.  I had that thing printed onto a canvas fasted than you could say "print."

The other 616 look like this one...(though can I just say for anyone recently experiencing a failed photo shoot, I looked through them just now to post one of the epic failures on here and I laughed the entire way through...these ridiculously imperfect photos are awesome, my kiddos are so little and so cute;)

We had my friend Roxanne take a quick Christmas photo in our jammies in 2013, but we haven't had an official photo shoot since that fateful day in 2011 and that single good photo has been on our wall since 2011.  We now have another member of our family.  He often points to that photo and says, "Where's Christian?"  We had to rectify this, so bravely I scheduled another shoot.  This time I had very little expectations.  I just wanted professional proof he's here.  Roxanne asked me what I wanted from the shoot and I said, "Capture our now" and the truth is dear friends, our now is amazing but it's also chaos, so I was prepared to just have the chaos captured.   I am well versed in failed photo sessions, as long as everyone was in it, I'd consider the mission accomplished.  After all, third time is a charm...worst case scenario, we do a homage to failed photo shoots along our upstairs hallway.

Let me share with you the talent of Roxanne Engstrom at Hawa Images.  She happens to amazingly talented and is gracious enough to let me be her friend.  My lack of stress (I kind of have a theory that my high expectations "MAY" have contributed to my children's freak outs at previous sessions...I think they may have felt a TEENY bit of pressure coming for mom) and her total comfort with our chaos captured our now beautifully.

Truly this IS our happily ever after...these crazy, high energy, intelligent, imaginative, uncontrollable kiddos.  Our quiver is full and often makes us quiver...but we wouldn't trade it for the world!

(I look quite a bit older, but my man is still there helping me find joy and supporting me 100%...proverb says, "He who finds a good wife finds a good thing..."  I believe if a woman had written something similar it would also say, "She who finds a good husband, finds a great thing..."

A more positive adoption update...

I last posted that we were experiencing some regression due to Marc going oversees for a week.  It's been a long 5 weeks readjusting and we aren't yet back to what was our new normal, but the last week has been amazing.  No potty accidents, just an general calmness returning (anxiety in little kiddos presents as restless or hyperness).  He is going to sleep again on his own.  He has stopped pocketing food.  He's still a bit clingy and we are doing a lot of sitting and cuddling, but we can handle that:)

It has been said that time erases all wounds and while I don't believe that is true, I think time combined with love and patience is powerful in healing.  I am learning so much about being patient, waiting, and loving.  Just pushing through and loving while God does the healing in HIS perfect time.

I am reminded how resilient the human spirit is and how powerful our Great Healer is.  The process isn't always clean and neat.  There are setbacks and sometimes we go back to past fears or wounds, but his grace and healing push through.  I am learning so much on a heart level what my head has known about our Creator for a long time.  I just feel blessed.

And might I add...smiles really are amazing.  Imaging my life without this particular one is impossible at this point;)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sweet Relief

I referenced in a much earlier post that way back in March we became aware that Marc's job may require a short term (1-2 year) stint in San Francisco starting this summer.  It's been something that's been back and forth since then.  I feel like we've been in emotional limbo.  Today we received final word that the deal is dead, his job will remain the same for now.  Career-wise it would have been a really amazing opportunity but family wise it seemed just too much.  I cannot tell you the joy I feel this evening knowing we are staying put.  I am so thankful.  We have not settled here, really.  We were here just a few months before Christian came home and then right as things started to settle with him, we began waiting of final confirmation re. whether or not we'd be moving THIS summer.

Last week, it looked 98% certain we'd be moving in August.  Today is all fell through and it's 100% certain.  I can breathe easy.  No more packing and unpacking.  We can do work we've kind of put off not knowing if we'd invest any more in this house.  We don't have to find a school for our kids or a place to live there...I feel like we can finally enjoy summer knowing it's just summer and it's all ours.

If you have any degree of certainty in your life, say a pray of thanks.  I am reminded how difficult being in limbo is, waiting for answers....and just thanking God that the answers that came mean more stability for our family and staying at a church we love and continuing to live near my family!  It still doesn't completely feel like home here yet, but we're one more step closer, it seems!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Adoption Update- Prayer Please;)

We've been doing really well...but at the moment we're in the middle of a hard spell.  Marc's been traveling weekly for a couple days since May and last week was gone all week in Ireland.  I think that trip was "the straw that broke the camel's back."  Christian struggled when he was gone, and this week is still struggling quite a bit.  We are having new episodes of potty accidents, many done quite purposefully (as in mom is in the middle of doing my sisters hair and can't hold me so I will take off my pants and poop on the floor in my bedroom).  He is chewing his hands and shirt a lot which he hasn't done since he first got home.  He is really clingly and extremely disobedient and defiant.  He needs lots of reassurance and love and affection and quite honestly those needs feel insatiable at the moment.  Nothing feels enough.  Really we just have to wait until the reassurance sets in.  I kind of feel like we are in triage again.  If you can just pray for his heart, it seems to have triggered into the abandonment complex.  In these moments, I just feel so inadequate.  We need Jesus.  He needs Jesus.  His a fragile and we are reminded his heart has a long way to go to experience full healing, but God is able and we'll just have to pull back from life and focus.  Just pray for patience, endurance, energy, compassion, and wisdom for us and for more healing to occur for our precious boy!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chloe is 4

Chloe is four today.  What a difference a year makes!  Three was rough for Chloe and rife with tantrums and the struggle to deal with her extreme emotions.  We saw so much growth.   As she neared four, we saw new found independence and a willingness to try things she might not be able to do.  This year she moved, started sharing a room with her sister, got a new brother, got rid of her pacifiers and delighted us with her charming and silly wit.  She is truly as adorable as she looks.  She is an amazing little friend and one of the most common things we are told about Chloe is how well she plays with others.  She is amazingly perceptive and we are seeing the emotions once so hard to control make way for deep empathy for others.   We are so proud of this little girl!

Yesterday we had her birthday party.  She chose frozen, like almost every other little girl her age:)  I cannot deny that I am pretty exhausted.  Marc was in Ireland all week so pulling this off took every once of energy, organization, and spare minute I had...and help from my sister;)  Birthday parties are my thing and because of our year, I've hired out the last three (which is REALLY amazingly stress free;), it felt good to get my mojo back;)  'cept I did forget to ask someone besides Marc to take pictures so we missed quite a bit;)

No close ups of the food- whoops.
The menu-
"We finish each others...SANDWICHES" (Jimmy Johns and PB and J's)
"Sven's Antlers" (Pretzels)
"Olaf's noses"  (carrots)
"Mmmm.  What's that smell?.....CHOCOLATE" (assorted chocolates
Melted snow (bottled water)
"Only Love can thaw a frozen heart"  (White chocolate dipped strawberries and undipped strawberries with top cut to resemble hearts)

Our Birthday Princess

Elsa Cake courtesy of my dear mom;)

We didn't get any pictures of the process, but as each girl came they "built snowman" out of Sculpy which I baked and turned into these snow globes for them to take home at the end of the party.  Thanks to Ava for being the big helper on this project;)

Next we went outside to do "ice painting"- Mix equal parts Epsom salt and hot water and let the kiddos paint.  It looks like just water on the page until it dries...

When dry, it looks like ice crystals...pretty amazing "magic" for little kiddos.

I filled my sensory table with "Instasnow" (get from amazon) and frozen figurines

We played pin the nose on Olaf...
Poor Olaf never got a nose in quite the right place;)

 Those cloth snowballs I invested in during advent came in very handy for our "throw snow balls at the snow monster game"...the each took 2-3 turns at this one;)

We took a break for a bit of food;)

Then I gave each of the girls a pair of frozen socks (from the Target dollar spot;) and told them they were special imagination socks.  "When you put them on they help you imagine that this living room floor was covered in ice by Elsa and we can ice skate"

We Freeze Ice Danced to frozen songs...probably the biggest hit of the entire party.  As sick as I am of the Frozen Sound track, it's pretty hard NOT to find 10 four year old's singing "Let it Go" at the top of their lungs absolutely adorable.

Cake TIME!

And finally some presents...we are stocked with every frozen good available, I am quite sure.

Instead of treat bags, we sent each kiddo home with their snow globes, socks, and these little jars of homemade play dough snowballs (white play dough with glitter and a bit of peppermint sent).

I am tired.  This was probably the most difficult parties I've ever pulled off because of Marc's travel schedule and I'd do it all over again in an instant.  My little girl was beaming and loved every moment.  These days are my favorite parts of motherhood (minus the clean up, of course;)!