happiest birthday

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"my girl turns 2 today. i've dreamt of her first birthday home for so long. the perfect party with her wearing the perfect dress and eating the perfect cake. dreaming of holding her and capturing a piece of what i missed out on the day she was born. i'm struck with sadness all at the same time. wondering if another mama, far from here, is struck in the same way. does she remember? does she wonder about that little bundle? maybe she's crying a few tears today as well. we have that in common. and we share a daughter. i wish she could glimpse the amazingness God created in her womb. she was present for emery's forming. for her first heartbeat. for her beautiful cleft being crafted. for her first breath of air. i wish it were me. oh how deeply and painfully i wish it were me. i would want emery to be exactly who she is...Asian and beautiful and smart and witty and born with a cleft...but of my body. i want her to have just one mama. to never wonder about the unanswered questions on this day we are celebrating. i long to have held her first. to see her tiny frame with my own eyes and hold her against my chest. to know her birth weight. her family history. to know her birth story. the exact moment of the day she arrived. i'm surprised to feel sadness today. as i hold her, i ponder today, may 26th. as friends and family buzz through, sweetly helping us pack boxes and belongings into our huge moving truck, i cry. her first birthday home isn't perfect as i had planned. her original birthday wasn't perfect either. but i'm holding her. her head is against my chest. she finds comfort in my presence. my arms. she squeezes her lovey blanket and holds my hand as we watch the box parade. she locks eyes with me and smiles with her whole self. we laugh and giggle and sing her favorite song. my mind knows she isn't my biological daughter...but my heart doesn't believe my brain. she feels biological. she feels like part of my soul. like we've been together all along. i wasn't there 2 years ago. but i'm here now. watching my little spunky girl chase her brothers and weave around boxes. put on chapstick and color with markers. feed her baby dolls and dance on the couch in her swirly dress. my heart may feel sadness over what i missed, but it overflows with crazy love when i think of how incredible it is to be called her mom. she's the best parts of everything and i'm so thankful God made her exactly the way she is. (photo is her finding ad taken a few days after her birth. it is her only baby photo.) "
(taken at happiest birthday )


sassy frassy {T-minus 2 days}

we woke up today to our girl...

our sassy-frassy, lovely, hide-and-seek, happy-go-lucky, tantrum throwing, wildly adorable girl.
she's back. praise the Lord.

our days of sobbing and mouth sores are behind us.

onward into the packing zone.
the downstairs is slowly being invaded. a small path keeps the flow of traffic moving, but it's walling in.

today, i enlisted the help of 3 happy helpers who slid boxes to the top of the stairs so i could schlep them downward.
they vacuumed and swept and opened boxes.

all in all, i got a lot done, considering there are 3 of them and only one of me.
oh and the dog didn't get much love today. sorry pup. you're last on the list.

we celebrated great attitudes and a day without sibling bickering (say what?) with ice cream sundays and the knowing that we are in it together. somehow. someway.
oh and i smiled today. a lot.
i stopped and hugged them. we laughed and made up jokes.
i figured if you can't beat em, join em.
and the whole day is better.

last night, we put the kids to bed at my parents and i finally got some time at the new house to paint. with the help of my brother and sister (in love) we got nearly all of the paint thrown on the trim and the hardwood floors painted in the boys room. there is nothing like a fresh coat of paint. schlepping paint on before carpet and wall paint is my new favorite thing. slap that paint on without a worry in the world.
after all, the floors look like this...

a few white paint drops might do them some good :)

and we worked on this baby...a new wall my hubby built. before the new wall...it was caving in. i was afraid to walk beside it. enter mr. incredible. geeze i love that wall building master of a man.

T-minus 2 days until i never EVER move again.
or at least until the next time we move :)


in the weeds {with HF&M, moving and exploding dishes}

we are in the weeds, dear friends. one of those times in life that feels hard. things like blogging and fun projects and normal life take a back seat.

but during this time, the strangest things bring me signs of God's plan.
one of the strangest so far... hand, foot and mouth disease.
sounds gross...because is gross.

we found out yesterday that emery has it. sores all over her mouth and throat. more emerging on hands, feet and bootie. i sobbed in front of the doctor. "it just can't be. this isn't possible. she's been through so much."

i'm devastated for her.
foster said to me, as we were leaving the doctor, "mom, why can't i have it, instead of sister? she's so small. i want to take it away from her."
my thoughts exactly, dear boy

she has sobbed for 2 days and nights. last night, i called in and demanded oxycontin...she still cried through the night in bed with us. HF&M doesn't mess around.

to make matters worse, we are moving in one week, our current house still has tons of packing to be done, i'm behind on 9 etsy orders, all of the laundry is unfolded, the dishes are taking over the world, and our new house is filthy....and i do mean FILTHY. uninhabitable. covered in years of grime and fresh sawdust.

clint has been rehabbing the new house every day for 3 weeks. i feel like a foreclosure widow. he is amazing...truly. he's making such great progress, but to say we are missing him a giant understatement. rowan cries almost every day. missing daddy is taking a tole.

so adding HF&M to our chaos isn't ideal. in fact, it's enough to throw me over the edge.
i had arraigned for friends/family to watch the kids this week so i could clean/paint/pack/unpack, etc...but now we are in quarantine, for fear of passing this yuck around.

and then incredible happened.
a friend called and offered to organize a crew of dear friends to clean our new house. (girls, you amaze me!)
i cried on the phone. it was God stepping in right when i needed Him.
there's nothing quite so wonderful as having friends who stand in the gap.

it's a lesson in knowing i need to let go. allow the opportunity for God to arrive when i can't.
i'm unsure how i will accomplish all that i need to do...
but i am going to focus on this:
"rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12

(if you have a moment, please pray that emery will heal quickly and be able to rest tonight. thanks dear friends!)


the solution to chaos.

apparently, the solution is "wake up one morning and decide you want a dog."
yes, folks, i may need to have my brain analyzed for loose screws, but i decided it was time to add a dog.
i've always wanted my kids to grow up with a pup, and what better time to take the puppy plunge than two weeks before moving, followed by a week in the outer banks?? (did i mention free week at the beach?? with my gal-pal laurel?? eek!!!)

(photo by my brother, stephen)

(photo by my sweet sister in law, lauren)

can you blame me? she's crazy cute :) and the kids are having so much fun with her, i'm wondering why i didn't do this years ago?

mothers day was awesome. not only did the hubby sweetly give me an antique shop item i've been salivating over for weeks (pics to come...i smile just thinking about it), but we had one of those days. the ones that you don't want to end because it's relaxing and sweet and filled with family. we threw the frizbee and laughed at the kids antics and marveled at emery's beauty.

.but i must add, i loved ashley's post. it is so heartfelt and true. if you haven't already, take a moment. i have a feeling most of us can relate.

guest posting today over at Loves of Life. if you have a moment, let me know what you think :)


netting frogs {& praying for those that wait}

we headed to the pond today. the woods. fresh, breezy air.
i love throwing old clothes on the kids and letting them splash and explore the frogs and pond slime and other splashing assortments.
there is something really special about this place...

the place where my husband grew up, the woods he once tread as a young boy.
in fact, we all lived here for 6 months when we sold our house exactly 2 years ago.
i remember walking around the pond, the boys throwing sticks and rocks and running about...
and i was in a trough of sadness.
sure i smiled. i laughed. we had fun, great days.
but the missing part of my life kept an ever present ache. nearly too painful to let out...because it brought sobs and uncontrollable waves of emotions.

as we walked today, i was in awe of God's timing. the way He knitted our family.

we netted for frogs and fish and water creatures and gathered a giant bucket of pond water for the tad poles we are growing at home (nearly 200 of them. good gracious).
emery is far too fearless. she insists on being right at the water's edge and has no interest in holding my hand...only a frog net.

i couldn't help but smile. my fearless girl has no idea that we are walking the same path i walked while longing for her.

  she screeches with delight to see catfish splashing, throws tiny handfuls of food to the beautiful koi and watches carefully as her brothers hunt for creatures. she follows and copies and topples over, but always gets back up.
she has perseverance for days. she doesn't give up. she is much braver than i.

i have many friends in the waiting right now. the part that takes perseverance and bravery just to continue on each day.
i often look at emery and pray for the daughters who are waiting. the ache in the hearts of so many friends.

i often think of my friend ashley, who is waiting to meet her sweet daughter, Song.
for my friend melissa who is waiting on a referral.
for katie who is awaiting a referral for two children from the congo.
for my sweet friend megan who's been through so many ups and downs and is still waiting.

it's painful. the kind of pain you don't get until you get it. like contractions for the heart. they hurt. they are often unbearable. hard to describe and ever present. but necessary. oh-so-necessary.

join me in praying for these sweet moms...for their children...for the orphanages and the paperwork that is forthcoming,
if you have friends who are adopting, send them flowers. write them a note. mail a fun package. remind them you are standing with them during the ache.


instagram, oh instagram {and simple editing tips}

i've become mildly in love with instagram. (my feed)
ok, perhaps largely in love is more accurate.
i find more and more often, as the chaos of packing erodes the fine tune of life,
the big camera stays put, and instagram takes charge of capturing the little moments...
which are, in fact, the best ones.

my brother introduced me to this fancy little maneuver. using a simple frame app called "photo collage" (there are others like "diptic" and "frametastic", etc that do the same thing) you can use the flip function (among other simple tools and grids).

it takes a cute little photo and makes it ridiculous...
photo magic.
(ps. doesn't it look like i have twins???)

using my phone, i can also be present in the presence of the action, without stopping to hide my big camera from the impending splattering of mud.
and this was a photo op i just couldn't miss...

 i'm also a fan of "phonto" which enables you to write on photos...

(sooo excited about the philly color run! might be the only time i smile whilst running)

i've looked into several instagram printing sites. this week, i'm testing out persnickety prints.

their ability to print under pressure will be trial under fire, as i am planning emery's 2nd bday bash set for friday night. i have an awesome photo project swimming around in my brain, and true to form, i've procrastinated. hoping persnickety will come to my rescue.


our new house {a great weekend & pigtales}

i'm still working to write back to each of the sweet comments and emails i received after my "whew" post. it is truly an honor to hear the stories and heartache of so many...but more importantly, to be able to stand together, pray for each other and know the road is lighter when tread with the steps of other women.

i love knowing God's a professional fix-it man - He doesn't mess around with a wimpy hammer and little kid tool set. He's a full-on contractor. site manager. supervisor. working to build a community, not just one house. it's a pleasure to live on this block :)

i'm stoked to say we finally closed on our new little house.

i'll save the before and after photos for another day, but it was fun to let the kids run through, knowing the wait was finally over.
i'm pretty sleeved at the condition, though. granted it is a foreclosure property and hasn't been occupied in over a year...but, well...there's a reason this sign was on the door:

i need some rubber gloves, a bottle of clorox and at least a week to scrub every nook and cranny. gross.

we zipped to pittsburgh last weekend for a family reunion, while clint stayed home and started demo on the house. other than several harrowing hours on the way home (emery's exhaustion tested our will to survive), we had a great trip. my favorite part, above all else, was a weekend with my brother, who bravely joined me and the kids for the drive.
(pics and edits by my brother)

i can't remember the last time we were together for an extended period of time, and nothing brings me such joy as the wonderfulness that is stephen. our friendship feels easy and splendid. growing up, he was clearly my favorite person of all time. even now, after husbands and wives and children...my heart feels completed with him in my life.

a dear friend watched the boys yesterday so i could spend the day packing.

and now, today, doing life again with three...i feel strongly of two things.

1. with only one child, i could possibly make an attempt to conquer the world.

2. with only one child, who takes a 3 hour nap, i could most definitely conquer the world.

(eek!! i LOVE this pic of her!!)

 i not only took down every photo and wall contraption in the house, packed 4 boxes of random items, organized a huge pile of messy paperwork, patched what felt like zillions of holes, steam cleaned the floors...i also made 15 phone calls...my eternal nemesis. i text, i email, but phone calls? uhg.

thanks to a dear friend, i feel a weight has been lifted. there is light.
and a whole lot of spackle :)

could anything be cuter than this girl in pig tales?
she's rocking some seriously cute hair as well as sweetness recently.

she's been charming us with her newly found verbalocity. it's truly one of my greatest honors to help her find her voice.

i've been looking back through a lot of pictures recently, as she approaches her 2nd birthday.
i posted these last week on instagram...
i'm in awe of the change over the past 10 months

more to come as her birthday approaches :)


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