You mean, are we ready right now, today, to bring Tommy and new baby boy home to our family?
This picture was taken at the end of March, 2013. Back, left to right-Joseph, 19, holding Katie, 11, Joshua, 16, Joe, holding Stephen, 4 1/2, Susanna, holding Verity, 2 1/2, Daniel, 17 1/2, and Laura, 13 1/2
Front, left to right-John Michael, 7 1/2, James, 6, and Peter, 6
Has been energetically working his way through our list of house projects. I guess it won’t surprise anyone who is already convinced we’re more than half crazed, but with three weeks before baby’s due, we jumped at the chance to have a friend help us replace the old bowed paneled walls and acoustical tile ceilings in our stairway and upstairs hallway with drywall.
I had to go back several years to retrieve this “before” photo, because I’ve avoided taking pictures with such an ugly backdrop. We’re planning to re-frame those photos as needed and spray paint all the frames.
That’s my man, applying the second coat of drywall mud in spite of fever and chills. The longest break we’ve had from sickness this winter was six weeks.
Joe’s also kept our evening routines on their usual even keel.
Like Reading Night [aka Mom’s night off, when Dad and children make a simple supper and then Dad reads aloud to the children past their bedtimes], Family Night, and Date Night.
This one was a special date. We went out for this one, and not to shop for birthday gifts, craft supplies, summer clothing for the family, or a rocking chair. No work, no business, just…specialness.
Joe is solicitous of my needs and is the strong and reliable support under our family. He calls me “Susie Goodwife,” takes eleven children on a field trip singlehandedly without a second thought, didn’t flinch when pregnancy news came shortly after we’d committed to adopt an older boy with severe special needs, and takes personal, hands-on responsibility for his children’s education.
A man in a million. At least.
In case any stray reader worries that I’m an overworked, overburdened mom with an insensitive husband, or on the other hand, perceives these adoptions or the advocacy work as my own personal little calling or project, please think again!
When you look at our marriage, what you see is a shared vision and team effort, each of us contributing our energy and gifts, and making sure we all receive opportunities to take breaks from the work and just have fun. There is no room in a special needs adoptive marriage for resentment, self-pitying martyr complexes, or “This wasn’t my idea,” when the going gets tough.
Mind you, this doesn’t look like our normal life. A normal life date night is us in our everyday clothes, collaborating on something that’s been waiting to be discussed or previewed or decided on, with occasional time outs to be available to the children if necessary. Date night has been known to commence after all the littlest children are in bed and our supper is cold.
But a date like this is worth working toward. We value it all the more when we know it won’t happen again for the indefinite future!
I’m more thankful than I can say for the steady strength of this man, my husband, and for the bond that God is only making stronger between us.
Is thrilled to be using Rob and Julia Nalle’s Biblioplan history curriculum for the first time this school year. It provides the planning and structure so I can spend my time on the part I revel in–reading aloud, teaching, discussing, explaining, introducing the next group of children in our family to the bigger picture of history–the philosophical ideas behind the events. I love seeing the absorbed looks on their faces when they are really taking it in, and hearing their thoughtful questions that tell me they are following the flow of ideas that are being introduced to them.
You noticed, I’m sure, that my nesting drive is propelling me to conquer my blogging to-do list, some of which has sat neglected for months.
For the friends who have asked patiently for a belly photo–the one below was taken a week and a half ago at eight months, thirty-six weeks, of pregnancy. I’m very aware that this may be the last few weeks I have the privilege of feeling baby kicks, rolls, and stretches inside me.
I’ve been working my way through older photographs as I learn to navigate Windows 8, and found a few I’m throwing in just for fun…lest anyone erroneously conclude from the above photograph that I don’t know what it feels like to be great with child…
Pregnant with the twins. Look familiar? I was only four months along. I had five more months to grow.
And grow I did, to the point of misery. Here I’m close to the same point in pregnancy that I am right now, but only hours away from delivery. Looking at this photo is more tolerable than posing for it was, belieeeeeve me!
But so worth it for the joy that was set before me.
Our twins, born almost a month early. Peter on the left, James on the right, six days old~
And now, six years later, Peter on the far side, James on the near. Sweet boys~
The pregnancy itself has been so blessedly boring. Baby’s measuring right on target. Great blood pressure. Enough no-nonsense Braxton Hicks the past month to signal when I was pushing, pushing, pushing myself too hard. I’m eagerly anticipating the mandatory two-week babymoon, coming right up. [But hoping I get to do the painting myself beforehand…]
A couple of weeks ago, we finally settled on a name for new baby boy. And that’s when I truly began to feel that sense of anticipation. Another unique and interesting individual will join our family! Who will he be? I can’t wait to hold him in my arms and feast my eyes on his face! It’s so strange that I’ve met Tommy across the ocean multiple times and have started to learn to know him, but the child right inside me for all these months has gone unseen and unknown.
The late spring we had outdoors this year perfectly matched our family’s state of preparation indoors.
We’re almost there.
After months of working hard on every detail we could think of that is possible to organize or streamline or complete for the next five months or so, we can see it all coming together.
And God has been providing marvelously. It’s as if He said, “I’m the One who gave you this assignment. Now do whatever you need to do to make it work, and I’ll see that the means will be there.”
~We’ve taken care of all known medical appointments we could possibly handle ahead of time to make space for Tommy’s appointments. The Clinic for Special Children, DuPont Hospital for Children, and the Shriner’s Hospital are all poised to help with Tommy’s needs and will be working together when necessary. Those who will be helping provide his therapy are just waiting for word of his travel home.
~God’s been sending a good friend to do all our ironing for months now, without charge. That’s been a considerable amount between the great seasonal clothing switch and two older boys who have been working white-collar jobs. She also takes care of any mending we generate. Another good friend and her older daughters are poised to help with ironing as a back-up.
~Our household help is set to increase after the baby is born. Not just any household help! We are blessed with two Amish neighbor girls who already accomplish a terrific amount in six to seven hours a week. The going rate around here is unbelievably affordable. Their mom recently wrote in a note to me, “I feel thankful to God that they can be a help to you.”
~All the summer clothing for all fifteen of us is sorted and ready for warm days. Whatever needed to be purchased has been purchased. A lot of our clothing was either given to us, handed down from older to younger, or bought at one of the nifty thrifty stores to be found in abundance in our area. Last month I came home from treasure-hunting at one semi-annual half-price sale with four large trash bags crammed full of quality clothing and household goods for about $70.
~Freezer meals didn’t happen like I’d thought they would, mostly due to the aforementioned Braxton-Hicks. This would ordinarily have been a matter of multiplying what I made for supper, eating one portion and freezing the others, but I’ve hardly been cooking. Instead, we’ve been eating our way through meals we froze several months ago and utilizing other super simple options to free up energy and time for other projects. A few good friends have already begun helping stock our freezers with meals, and our church fellowship is helping this way now rather than bringing meals after baby comes. This is the one area I specifically asked Joe to mention if anyone asks him how they can help!
~We’re almost fully prepared with cards and gifts for birthdays and other occasions we’ll be celebrating over the next months, and most of the gifts are wrapped.
~We went searching for a large, comfy, well-built rocking chair, as I’m counting on lots of snuggly rocking time with my littlest ones during the months ahead and the last in a long succession of cheapie rockers gave up and died. I wasn’t a bit surprised when there was one and only one perfect chair way in the back of the store at half the list price. It’s so often how God provides for us!
Did you spot it in this Shmoo photo? It’s wide enough for a little person to sit next to me while I hold another on my lap. It rocks smoothly, smells lovely, is the color of a coffee bean and soft as butter.
Now to learn to actually sit in it. As in, sitting down. I think I’ve sat in it half a dozen times in the month since we brought it home.
Very soon, this season of preparation will be over. First one, then another unutterably precious life will enrich our family.
Just a few more chores to accomplish and we’ll be all set to burst into bloom.
Q: You keep us updated about Katie and Verity. How are the other children doing?
A: I have to slip in a small but celebratory update about Verity first. She has begun using some personal pronouns correctly on her own! For instance, I might say, “Verity, are you walking?” And she would answer, “I’m walking.”
Joseph, age 19
Is working long hours at two jobs–one full time salaried position, and one part time position–doing computer programming, one of the things God created him to do, and doing it exceedingly well. He’s being sent on several business trips over the next few months. We’re proud of how he’s stepped into a responsible adult life, and are enjoying his presence in our home while it lasts. He’s applied for his passport in case he’s needed to help pick up Tommy.
Daniel, age 17 1/2
Has only four days of the 2013 tax season left to work for his uncle’s CPA business. He’s also the bookkeeper for the family carpentry business and hopes to enter that business once he’s of an age to do so. From all we observe of Daniel, we expect his giftedness with numbers and other details, readiness to serve, personable manner, and the pleasure he takes in the hands-on work to bring only benefits to the business his grandfather built.
Joshua, age 16
Is beginning to see more opportunities open up for a young man who’s tall and strong, who’s not afraid of hard work, and who understands more about growing things than almost anyone else we know. He’s often to be found attending to some new or established gardening project, from pruning fruit trees to moving plants into or out of his cold frame. When Joshua cares for plants, he does it right. And can explain what he’s doing. And why.
Laura, age 13 1/2
Is gifted in drawing and other artwork. She is an excellent, willing scholar and confirmed bookworm. She has a very open, tender and nurturing nature, and genuinely loves little children. She’s the child who came into the room last June when I was sobbing my heart out at the news that Tommy was going to turn 16 in March and needed a family who could move fast, believing that we did not qualify to adopt him. She told me recently that she cried herself to sleep that night, too. In addition to her predictably sweet temper, what I appreciate most about Laura at almost fourteen years of age is her utter and refreshing lack of image-consciousness or snobbiness.
Jane, age 11
Is so much like her mother, oh my. Little did we know how appropriate her name, Susannah Jane, would turn out to be! She enjoys academics about as much as I did, but does well with them in spite of herself. She’s currently reading her way through the wealth of good books we have for her age. She has a genuine knack for cooking and baking and is, like her mother was at the same age, what is commonly known as a tomboy. For the past two academic years, she and Laura have attended art classes across the street free of charge, offered to them by a dear older Christian neighbor lady who just happens to be an artist and is teaching her own home-schooled grandchildren at the same time. The artistic progress Jane has made over these two years amazes me.
These four wiggly monkeys…
…are nearly inseparable. Since they’re so close in age, it works well to have Memory Time with them all together, reciting our way through passages of Scripture [right now Ephesians 1, appropriately enough], catechism Q & A’s, Shurley English grammar jingles, et cetera.
They can be found outdoors most afternoons now, clad in their boots and oldest we-live-in-the-country-and-aren’t-uptight-about-getting-dirty clothes, romping through a whole property full of spring treasures waiting to be discovered.
In many ways, they themselves are waiting to be discovered. We pray for them, as we prayed for our older children, that God would reveal to us what He created them to do well, so we can supply them with what they need to learn excellence in their skills, bring glory to God, and be a blessing to the people around them.
John Michael, age 7 1/2
Just learned to ride a bicycle the first time he tried it! “Bicycle for John Michael” was on our list of things to buy. Then one of our neighbors came across the street with an almost new bicycle his grandchildren didn’t need anymore–just the right size for John Michael. When God dropped this gift down out of heaven, He even sent it in John Michael’s favorite color, orange! John Michael is another excellent scholar who is ahead in math and has really taken off reading chapter books this year.
Peter, age 6
Has built a reputation for being a helper boy, and loves to anticipate needs that he can take care of himself. For example, I pulled the dishwasher out to sweep under it and noticed aloud that something sticky had dripped down its side. His whole face lit up, and without a word he ran to grab paper towel and window cleaner and eagerly scrubbed that dishwasher. That’s Peter, very much like his big brother Daniel was at the same age. Peter’s plodding steadily along in his schoolwork just as he plods steadily along in every other area of life.
James, also age 6
Does very well with any academics we give him, and has been unusually engaged while listening to our history discussions. He has a sensitive heart that needs tender handling. When he was a very young toddler he’d burst into tears if he saw a photo of a crying baby. Recently, someone gave our family gourmet bread and I’d told the children they could eat it. Later, James told me how yummy it was. When I asked him if there was any left, his lip quivered. He didn’t want to tell me that it was gone and I wouldn’t get to taste it. <mama’s heart melting>
Peter in back, James in front~
Stephen, age 4 1/2
Has a special connection with Katie, and can’t go near her without kissing her and saying, “I love you, Katie!” He’s still bigger than she is, but at the rate she’s been growing, they may be neck and neck at some point. Stephen has a winning smile to go with his precocious and confident personality. He’s careful in his schoolwork. He’s excited to finish his last preschool workbook and get started on Kindergarten level work.
New baby boy, coming soon
Needs to go head down and stay there if we are to have another successful VBAC delivery, although we expect him to keep us guessing right up to the last minute, as most of our other babies have done.
The obstetrician says I’m an excellent candidate for a VBAC, but the final outcome is of course in the hands of God. If this ends up being a C-section birth, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be accompanying Joe to pick up Tommy-boy.
New baby, we love you, although we don’t yet know you.
We thank God for you, although we did not plan for you.
We welcome you with our whole hearts, because we hold our own plans in open hands, confident that the Father’s timing is always perfect.