Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birthday girl

Apologies for the wacky spacing!!! I can't figure out how to fix it without accidentally deleting photos.

January brought with it the chance to celebrate Anya Rashi's birthday with her grandparents. The first few photos were taken the morning of the party, as Anya Rashi helped me make Chicken Makhani. This girl LOVES to eat raw onions!

Flower cupcakes were the order of both parties, after months (starting in July!) of deliberating between different ideas by our then-2-year-old. In my family, my brother has a January birthday, and I'm happy to say he didn't mind sharing his celebration with Anya Rashi (pink flowers and all!).

A small dream of mine also came true with one particular birthday gift: my Mom repainted and spruced up a little wooden cupboard for Anya Rashi's gift. The cupboard was originally made by my Grandpa for my Mom when she was a little girl. My sister and I played with it when we were kids, and now it's being passed on to a third generation in our family.

The cabinet makes me appreciate two of my grandparents' character traits: they were very fun and creative, and like most who lived through the Great Depression, they were very thrifty. The wood for the cabinet came from a truckload of scrap wood delivered by a local paper company to my grandparents' house in the country. (My grandpa later worked for the same paper mill.)

Every summer, a load of wood was dropped off, and the five kids (one more would be added to the family a few years later) would spend time during the summer removing nails so they could burn it throughout the winter to heat their house. Grandpa built the cupboard out of this scrap wood -- on one side of the cabinet, the raised words from a peach crate are still visible beneath the white paint. The knobs on the cabinet doors are halves of thread spools, painted red to my Mom's little-girl delight. My Grandma sewed most of the family's clothes, and saved spools because of their potential uses.

I'm so proud of my grandparents' legacy, and my Mom was as happy as Anya Rashi to play with it non-stop for 30 minutes after they brought it into the house.

You may notice that we have current photos again! A friend of ours' mother had read on the blog that our camera was broken, and gave us a (very nice!) camera that she no longer used. I felt like God had given me a big hug and reassured me that He is watching out for us as we save each penny for our current adoption. I won't use her name, because I know she would never want "credit" for it -- she's such a sweet woman.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spelling bee

We are SO proud of Aaron! Today was the all-school spelling bee, and he did a wonderful job. There were 12 kids on stage representing the 3rd- through 8th-grade class winners. Our boy was cool, calm and collected, and did a fantastic job cheering for each of the other contestants as they spelled their words. Because the microphone was set as a vague "medium" height to accomodate the different ages, he had to stand tall and reach his chin up to the microphone. :o)

Aaron lasted through many rounds, and correctly spelled the word "monopolize" among others! He ended up in 6th place after battling with the word "subterranean." What a great morning for him -- his love of reading definitely showed today!

There were a few other highlights: the first was seeing how Nathan supported his big brother. He prayed for Aaron this morning before school, and it was so sweet. Then, during the spelling bee, we could definitely pick out Nathan's voice as he cheered his guts out after each word Aaron spelled.

The second was seeing what a great, encouraging atmosphere our teachers and staff have created. Every time a child disqualified and had to leave the stage, the crowd of students clapped, and there were kids patting them on the back, giving high fives, and whispering "good job" as they took their seats.

All that, and Anya Rashi was an angel during the bee, playing quietly, drawing and looking at books. What a great day! (The photos are from our family's "boy" trip to the Field of Dreams this summer. We had never posted them, and wanted to share.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Current events

First and most importantly, we are thanking God tonight for the safety of our church's children's pastor and his family. They are spending three months in Hinche, Haiti to serve in a variety of capacities -- and we feared the worst when we heard about the earthquake. Their youngest son Jeffrey was adopted from Haiti, and their other four children are getting a chance to live and serve in his birth country. I'm sure God is planning to use them in all kinds of surprising ways with the needs brought on by this emergency. Our church had sent a medical team there in November, and was planning a trip in February too . . . I don't know yet if they will change the trip dates to help earthquake victims. If you'd like to help, our adoption agency is sending contributions -- just click on the link to Dillon International on the sidebar.

Closer to home, we are appreciating "normal" life even more in the face of such a disaster. Our blessedly mundane current events this January include Anya Rashi moving into a big-girl bed, Nathan participating in his second Pinewood Derby, Aaron competing in a spelling bee . . . and this mama getting her first nesty item for our new daughter.

Anya Rashi, you'll notice, is clutching two ziploc bags of assorted household objects. (Don't worry . . . we don't let her sleep with plastic bags!) Right now, one of her favorite things to do is collect very random items in a bag, then give it to someone with a bright "Happy birthday! Here's your present!" Today's present consisted of a refrigerator magnet, two bracelets, a book, and some plastic dishes.

She has also taken to e-mailing her baby sister several times each day. I open up WordPerfect and she types away (like this: ssssssslll77777777xxx) and clicks the X to send it. Her favorite e-mail topics are sharks, pirates, and ships (surprising choices, since we live an hour's drive from Lake Michigan, much less the ocean!).

We spent last Saturday morning at the Pinewood Derby races. My brother Matt helped Nathan design and build his car, the Blue Bullet, complete with a silver stripe down the middle and flames on the sides. Race day is always fun, but the best part was watching my brother and my son work together on the car.

Not to be outdone by the younger ones, Aaron was beaming today after school . . . he won his third grade class' spelling bee, and will move on to the all-school spelling bee next week! Good times! I loved seeing how excited he was, but how he doesn't boast or brag about himself.

Our new baby is still somewhere on the horizon in 2011. We are holding steady at #7 on the list, but I decided to get her the first present from her Mama and Daddy. I had something to return at a store, and couldn't resist getting her a soft, light green blanket. Anya Rashi is VERY attached to her pink blankie, so I wanted to make sure the new little one has her very own. :o)

Friday, January 1, 2010

A decade

We spent New Year's Eve with some dear friends and their children. All three families brought a pot of soup to share, along with bread and dessert. At 9:00 p.m., we gave 7 kids party horns and blowers (!), and ushered in a new year and a new decade.

All of us adults talked about what we were doing 10 years ago, when the year 2000 was new. (Peter and I had celebrated at a great restaurant in Chicago with our best friends from college.)

As we looked back, it was a shock to think about all that happened in 10 years! None of us three couples had children yet, and after a year of hoping for a pregnancy, Peter and I were wondering if starting a family might not turn out the way we anticipated.

If you'd told us that we would be celebrating 2010 with three children and another on the way through adoption, our jaws would have dropped at the sheer blessing of it. Add to that the fact that Peter and I both still have our parents, and we have far more than we deserve.

I haven't written much about the end of our year on the blog, because it's been hard. In addition to the first two funerals I wrote about in November, I've attended three more. Five funerals in five weeks . . . and a friend I used to work with is in the final stages of cancer, so I know there will be another funeral soon. We have other friends walking through difficult times right now, too, with fears for their children's health and their own, or with job troubles. My head has been spinning.

But, along with saying goodbyes, I've been so blessed to say hello to a dear friend's new baby. She is a first-time mom at 43, and she and her husband are bursting with joy. Another friend is due any day with her first baby, who will also be a long-awaited blessing. When I think ahead to finding out this year who our next daughter will be, it's another reminder that joy still exists in the midst of sadness.

So, I guess I'm feeling some emotional fatigue. Last night, it was good and necessary to remember where we were 10 years ago, and to remember that even though we don't know what's coming, God does. He's not surprised by any of it, even when I am -- and that goes for both the sad things and the times of rejoicing. I'm actually grateful that I don't know what's going to happen ahead of time because it forces me to stay focused on God's character: consistent, loving, and trustworthy, no matter my circumstances are.

If I were someone who makes New Year's resolutions, I guess that would be mine. May your 2010 be filled with the same focus, and the joy that comes along with it . . . no matter what each of our circumstances are.