Why I love four

[Photo: This is Isaac's new self. He's a cowboy. And he wears denim jeans, an old denim jacket of Mark's, a bandana, and this hat. He's worn it every day, everywhere, for the past week. (Prior to that he was a Knight every day for months. Now we're on to cowboys, apparently.) At nighttime, he keeps the bandana on and hangs his hat up on a chair next to his bed.]

We've been immersed in cowboy of late, checking out books from the library, and having lots of cowboy conversations. I've been using it to my full advantage, too. Things like, "Isaac? Mama asked you to sweep the floor. Be quick. Cowboys work well and quickly." I've been calling him "cowboy", and he'll regularly ask me things like, "Mommy, what would a cowboy do if someone took his lasso?" (This particular inquiry came directly after Isaias had taken Isaac's lasso (which happens to be a belt) from him.).

Another conversation, this morning:

Isaac: What do they call cowboys?

Me: Cowboy. Just like I've been calling you.

Isaac: When I get bigger than I'm gonna get real cowboy clothes. Like real boots and stuff. 'Cause that's what I'm gonna be when I grow up.

Me: Oh, yeah?

Isaac: Yeah.

Me: Well, if you're planning on being a cowboy, you're gonna have to learn how to ride a horse.

Isaac, thoughtful: But what if someone else has the horse that I want?

Me: Well, if someone else has the horse that you want, you'll have to see if you can buy it from them. And then you'd have to go and work REALLY hard to earn the money you'd need to buy that horse. Then you'd say, "Here's my money for that horse", and then you'll have your horse!

Isaac: And then I'll ride away on my horse. [He pauses, thinking.] But then I won't live with you anymore, mommy.

Me, (a bit teary, honestly.) And then with a feigned shocked look on my face: What??!

Isaac: Well, I'll be a daddy. And I'll have to ride off on my horse to find a mommy. [He means his wife.]

Me: Come here. (I pull him into a big hug.) Okay. But will you and your wife get on your horse and come back to mommy's house so that I can see you?

Isaac: Yeah.

On reading and read-alouds

[Apparently I'm on the twice-a-week blogging schedule of late. Probably because I have a little beauty in my arms most of the time. Is anyone even still reading here?]

Ella has become quite the reader. It is so fun for me to watch her. A few days ago I heard her sigh contentedly on the couch and say, "I just love to read. I love books. I wish I could just live at the library because there are so many books there. I could just wake up and there would be all those books! And then I could open the doors and let all the kids in and we could all read!" I so get that. If our library had comfy couches with blankets and pillows and a well-stocked fridge, that might actually be a dream vacation for me.

Today, I took Ella and Adelia out on a "girls date." Our primary goal was to get some spring clothes for Ella, but we had a couple of other stops to make, too. One of those stops was the library, and Ella wanted to go to the library first. We dropped some books off and then I told her we had about half-hour to get some new books. She was thrilled.

When we got back into the van and headed off to our next errand, it was rather... silent. When I glanced in the rear-view mirror I realized that she'd taken a stack of books with her and her head was bent over a book. I missed her usual chatter, but understand her love of reading, so I asked, "Why don't you read those out loud to mommy?" She said, "No. I'd like to just read them to myself." Great. Nice bonding time that was. (Next time I'll know to tag the library trip on the end so that I may actually get to talk to my her as we drive around.)  ~smile~

We've also been doing several read-alouds lately, and let me just say right off the bat that I did not at all care for Stuart Little. ~shudder~

But here are a couple of our favorites: The Courage of Sarah Noble and The Family Pilgrim's Progress. 

But those don't even hold a candle to our current read-aloud:

Could you just cry for joy at the happy memories that book brings you? Or is it just me?  OhmygoodnessIlovethisbook. The kids, of course, love it, too. Ella adores anything Laura, Mary and baby Carrie are doing. And Jack is a bit hit. Isaac is really into the parts with Indians or Pa going hunting with his gun. Isaias gets distracted after about 2 minutes but jabbers on about Indians any time they come up in the story.

The other day after we finished up a chapter, Isaac asked, "Is this a real story?" (Most of the books we read are true stories, or "based on a true story".)

I turned to the outside cover and asked Ella if she could tell who the author was. She read aloud: "Laura Ingalls..." She stopped suddenly before getting to the "Wilder" part. Then she exclaimed, "Laura Ingalls is the same Laura we're reading about! That's her name, too. Laura Ingalls. And Pa Ingalls. That's their name. It's the same!" She was so excited. I said yes, it's the story of Laura as a child and her family's adventures, and when Laura grew up she wrote it all down. Ella looked up at me, beaming, and she literally had tears in her eyes upon making that connection. Really. She was that excited to know that Laura was real and that all of this had really happened; that this family had really existed. (Isaac was hoping they were still alive.  Cutie.)

That's what we're up to in the read-aloud department.  

What books have you been reading at your house? 

So that they won't be lost to me

Elisabeth Elliot, referring to her daughter, Valerie, as a child:
She thought much about God and heaven (which was to her not only the Father's house but her daddy's as well). I sometimes wrote down her prayers after I had kissed her goodnight. I did this not because I feared they would otherwise be lost (the great angel with the golden censer will see that they are not lost) but because I knew that they would be lost to me. I would forget. [Italics mine]
I love this quote. I have often felt this way as a mama: I don't want to forget any of this. I want to hold on to this moment, tuck that one away in my memory, remember my childrens' words, the way they say those words, their expressions, their drawings, their interests at each age.

I want to remember someday that when Isaac was four he play-acted Knights and Cowboys or "Football Player". I want to remember that he says "bemagined" instead of imagined. (And still adds that "be" at the beginning of several words.) And the way Isaias, at three, speaks so sweetly to Addie, or the way he sprawls out across his bed as he sleeps. Or how Ella, six, pulls up her socks like they're knee-highs, even when they're not, and wants to wear tennis shoes with her dresses and tights. Or how she tucks herself alongside of me in my bed when she wakes up in the morning. And the way Addie, at 2 months, smiles brightly and coos, especially when she first wakes up. And how she hangs on tightly to my necklace when she's cuddled up in my arms.

It's why we do a yearly Birthday Letter for each child, and it's why every so often in my journal there are little notations. So that I will remember.

And every once in awhile I remember to transcribe the prayers of my children. Here's one from today:

[Prayer by Isaac, age 4]

Dear God,

Make Talia to have her baby and make us love you, Jesus and make us to go to heaven and thank you that your Son died on the cross and make daddy to work hard today. I love you, God.

In Jesus' Name,

Sewing of late

Have I mentioned that I really enjoy sewing? And fabrics? I really like the creative process of putting it all together. I'm learning so many new things just by trial and error.

I finished a changing pad for Adelia last night. Mind you, I didn't start it last night (more like an entire month ago!)

I used Sandi Henderson's Ginger Blossom fabric, which is the first fabric I ordered online because I liked it that much.

The changing pad turned out a whole lot different than I'd originally wanted it to look like, but I'm happy with it. I had wanted a ruffle around the outside, but after pulling those threads through a tiny strip of fabric to gather the ruffle for an entire 45 minutes, only to feel the threads snap, I was quite done with that idea. Especially since I was only 1/3 of the way through the gathering.

And since I actually wanted to finish this project before Addie is out of diapers, I moved to Plan B, which gave me the opportunity to use my bias tape maker for the first time.

But then it still wasn't quite right. The ruffle added a little something extra, but now with no ruffle I decided to add a flower on the top, inspired by this idea, here, of the talented Erin at house on hill road. (Did you follow that link? How cute is that? She has another one, here.)

Anyway, I attempted to freehand a flower from the main fabric, and my first attempt was shaping up to look something like this:

But that wasn't quite right, either. (The flower petals were so thin that the fabric beneath showed through too much and was just too busy. The flower kind of got lost.)

So I ended up with this:

But I'm sure we can all agree that it doesn't look quite as cute without this particular added feature:

Also, I realized this morning when I was looking through some pictures on my computer that I never posted the quilt I made for Adelia. (This is the first quilt I've done since the doll quilt I made over a year ago.)

I was inspired by Sew, Mama, Sew's quilting month (back in February) to try my hand at a bit more quilting. So I began with some of these:

And it turned into this:

This was the first time I binded a quilt and did mitered corners. I consulted Heather Bailey's Quilt-Binding Directions for that step. For the hand-stitching that was required for the back of the quilt (which happened to be the part I was dreading but it actually ended up being my favorite part!), this video really helped.

Next up, this one:



::donuts with friends after church

::a board game with Mark

::a nap

::a visit with my parents who stopped in

::time to sew

::roast in the crock pot for dinner

::plans to watch some of Little House on the Prairie with the kids, with popcorn

And the rest of the evening remains stretched out before us.

Is there anything so delightful as a day of rest?

I am so thankful for the Sabbath!

On Netflix and why we don't do that anymore

We just cancelled our subscription to Netflix.

Here's why:

We had a documentary in our queue and Mark said, "You should see if that one is at the library. They may have it since it's a documentary."

So I checked. And they did have it.

And then we checked every other movie in our queue. And the library also had every one of those.

Who knew?

Clearly not us. But now we know: the library carries several movies.

And now we can, for free, watch movies we were previously paying money for.

And since we're at the library frequently, and Mark passes it every day on the way to and from work, it is nearly as convenient as Netflix. And it's FREE. (Which is clearly my favorite part.)

I heart the library.

We have way too many...

gift bags (oh.my.word. i think we had over one hundred gift bags. what can i say? we have large extended families, thus many birthdays, and apparently i've saved every gift bag we've ever gotten. and bought some along the way. i tossed a bunch of them but we still have three drawers full.)

candles and candle holder-y type things. (now down to one drawer.)

vases (seriously, readers. i had so many vases it was ridiculous. i scaled way back to about 12. which is still probably way more than we would ever use at one time.)


photos (i'm still not sure what to do with all the photos. do i keep all photos? take the time to organize them all? put them in albums? will i ever even do that? (michelle, will you please oh please lend me donna?))

clothes (all six of us)

books (but i can't say we'll be getting rid of many (any?) of those. but if we don't, we're going to need some serious shelving.)

toys that can't easily be categorized. (ie- the legos and lincoln log type toys don't bother me. those are all together in a bin. but then there's all that other STUFF. ~sigh~

papers (ugh. the papers.)

what about you? what do you have too much of at your house?


I really have nothing to write about. But I feel like such a slacker blogger that I thought I'd better pop in for an update. (And I'm very sure that once I get going I can ramble on and on about all sorts of things.)

-I'm in the kitchen today, doing some of that decluttering/spring cleaning. So far I would have to say this is the most overwhelming room to date. All those drawers and cupboards! Yikes! I've been a little lazy with it because frankly, I'm not sure where to even begin. So far I tackled The Corner Where We (okay, I. I . It's me. It's all me.) Dump Everything and the windowsill above the sink. Which I realize hardly seems like anything at all but I assure you, those areas were in need of some serious attention. Oh, and I also removed a bunch of stuff that was taped to the front of my cupboards/kitchen walls. Apparently I tape a lot of things up on the cupboards/walls/mirrors. Notes, cards, photos, verses, TO DO lists, etc. Which is all very good but it does look cluttery. So most of that is now gone.

-So far I've finished three rooms and a closet: the living room, our bedroom (a two-day job), the bathroom, and the hallway closet.

-I threw away the most stuff from the bathroom. (I kept telling myself things like: "Sure, that lotion smells good. But really. It's been sitting there smelling good inside of that bottle on the shelf for a few years, now." So a lot of stuff got tossed.

-I gave away the most stuff from the bedroom. Clothes in bags ready to go to the Goodwill.

-Can I just say? I love having a clean and decluttered house! Maintaining those rooms when they begin clean is so... nice (for lack of a better word). I am SO turning over a new leaf.

-I'm dreading the basement. The playroom and storage room, especially. UGH. That storage room has boxes of stuff in it we've held onto for years.

-We've decided not to save anything for a garage sale (more work and time), and give it all away instead. Which is smart, really. Because if we did decide to go the garage sale route, I could foresee us setting everything aside and then, well, not having one for a long time. (Mark doesn't have Saturdays off, and the appeal of having a garage sale, me with all the kids, is completely lost on me.)

Enough about that... and onto other (random) information:

-Adelia is sleeping through the night! She's a gem, that girl. And then she wakes up at 6-something for her bottle, drinks that and then sleeps until around 10 or 11. Ella was like that, too. (Except with Ella, when she was sleeping in until 10 or 11, I was sleeping right along with her. Not so these days. :)) Past 11am, though, any sleeping she does she likes to do in my arms. And she does like to sleep past 11.

-Isaias is no longer napping. So that makes three kids with quiet times, and let's just say that whole "quiet" part of the quiet times needs a lot of work.

-Spring is here! The garden is ready for planting, (and--when are we going to do that, honey?) Our tulips are blooming along our front walk, we have bouquets of early Spring flowers on our mantel and table. And the kids want to be outside everyday. I love it.

I am so sorry for the Most Boring Post Ever. I'm done. Really, I am.


Remember when I mentioned that someday I'd love to learn how to embroider?

As of today, I'm learning.

This blog was particularly helpful. [If you're curious, follow that link and then scroll down. There's a whole series of posts where she teaches different embroidery stitches.]

I learned how to do the Satin Stitch, the Running Stitch, the Back Stitch, the Split Stitch, and a French Knot.

I've also discovered this is an inexpensive craft. I bought two hoops (is that what they're called?) at a thrift store for $0.99, the embroidery thread for $0.29/color, and some white linen for myself (which was a bit pricier, but I had a coupon!)

But I knew that if I came home with all of that and started embroidering, Ella would want to do it, too. So I found some inexpensive white fabric on the clearance rack at the fabric store.

Ella was more than delighted. I gave her a pencil and told her she could draw a picture on the fabric.

Then she chose the colors of thread she wanted and set to work. She needed a little help threading the needle and tying knots, but other than that she was on her own.

Ella loved this, and spent well over an hour today working on different pictures within her hoop.

Note to self: This would be a great gift idea for a little girl. Tuck inside a little basket or tote: a hoop, different colors of embroidery thread, some white fabric, a little pair of scissors, and a needle. You could even include some ideas for pictures.


Congratulations, sweet Rebeca and family!

And readers, do hop over and look at pictures of that cute baby boy!

The Plan: Day one

The living room is nearly done. I'd say it's about 3/4 of the way completed. I think it will be the easiest room of the whole house, too. There's actually not much clutter there. It's the room we spend the most time in so we've pared down and decluttered there more than anywhere else.

I began early- before 8:00. As soon as Ella was up she jumped right in to help me. LOVE that girl. Isaias wandered around with a damp washrag and wiped things. Isaac slept in this morning. Adelia? She slept until 11:00!!! See? I told you she said she'd be really, really good! ~smile~

We swept, vacuumed, dusted, and washed the walls, windows and floors as we went.

And of course I had to rearrange all the furniture. Which is one of my favorite things in the world to do. Really.

The kids all petered out after awhile, but then Ella read books aloud on the couch to the boys and Addie was still sleeping so I worked alone.

Tomorrow it's Mark's day off and we're off to do something fun with Amy-and-family, so I'll resume the Spring Cleaning on Friday. I forget what room I'm in that day.

Thanks for all your fun tips and encouragement! I realize most people do this type of thing on a semi-regular basis, but I assure you, I do not. But we may have to make it a tradition.

And one more thing. Which happens to be completely unrelated to cleaning or decluttering but hear me out: If you're not watching the show The Big Give, you should tune in. It's basically a show in which Oprah (or other wealthy people), hand some contestants a bunch of money and they get to give it away to various people/organizations. You can watch it online here. Mark and I usually only watch LOST, but it hasn't been on. One night when he was gone I watched this show and now I'm hooked. If you're only going to watch one episode, watch the one called Destination: Miami. Each contestant is given $100,000 cash and has to spend it within 24 hours. But there were rules. They couldn't just hand out cash. They couldn't give more than $500 to one person, and I think the other one was that they couldn't spend more than $10,000 at any one store/place. It was interesting to see what people did, and it made for good conversation around here, too, as we tried to figure out what we would have done. We even talked to the kids over lunch one day, sharing some of the things people had done and asking them what they would do if someone let them give away some money. (I think Isaias said he'd give it to us. Ella said she'd give it to "poor people". Isaac said he'd give it to someone who didn't have any money. I love those kids.)

Now I'm off to see who is slamming doors downstairs when they're supposed to be having a quiet time. ~Sigh~

The Plan

If I've calculated correctly, there are 19 working days left in the month of April (excluding Sundays).

One of my desires in life is to SIMPLIFY. And in order to do that, I must declutter. And that doesn't just happen on it's own, as unfortunate as that is for cluttery-types like myself.

But I have a plan.

Tackle one room/closet/area per day for the rest of the month. All of us. (Well, me and the kids. Mark is at work, of course.)

Tonight after we discussed it over dinner, I drew up a calendar on our dry-erase board and assigned a room/closet/area to each day, and we're beginning tomorrow.

But just because I was so excited to get started, I actually worked on the Hallway Closet tonight and FINISHED it. :) And that wasn't even on the calendar until Saturday. So I'm already ahead. Which is a nice feeling. And I got rid of so much stuff from even just that one closet that I'm motivated to press on. Now let's just hope Addie and Isaias and Isaac and Ella are just as motivated. (HA!)

Tomorrow's assignment: The living room and the living room closet.

Three big boxes await. One, for TRASH. The second one, for GIVE AWAY (ie: Goodwill). The third one: TO KEEP. I'm hoping the first two boxes will be rather full. (And-- is there anything I'm missing, for those of you who do this kind of thing on a regular basis?)

My blogging here may be a bit hit and miss for the next few weeks. I have to get moving on these things when the vision is there because it's really so fleeting.

If you have any decluttering tips, though, I do want those.

Or any great plans for bribing my kids? I'll take those, too. (So far I've said things like, "This is going to be SO fun! We'll play some music, take everything and stick it in the middle of the room, and GET.RID.OF.STUFF!" Ella is quite thrilled with the whole plan. Isaias seems clueless. Isaac said, (and I quote): "I want to keep everything in the house." Okaaaay. Super. And Addie? I'm pretty sure she said that she's going to be really really good and flexible for the next few weeks.

Oh. Michelle? Remember how you wanted to visit? Now would be a GREAT time. I could use your expertise. On second thought, NO WAY do I want you seeing all the junk we've been holding onto for *years*. So neveryoumind.

All about Addie

Wow. So I hardly even know where to begin to catch you up on our new little girl and the past three weeks with her. Three weeks?! ~gasp!~ Has it really been that long? I have been absolutely remiss in not posting an update sooner. My apologies.

Okay, I'll just plunge right in.

At the moment I'm sitting in bed. It's nearly midnight. To my left is Addie's bassinet, and she's sighing contentedly in her sleep. If all goes well she'll sleep until about 3:00, when she'll want to get up and eat. Mark will get up, get the bottle ready, change her diaper, and pass her off to me so that I can feed her. (I know. He's the greatest.) One of the things we have done with our adopted children is that I exclusively get to do all of their bottle feedings. (It's sort of our way of ensuring that they get that bonding time with mama that we would normally get through breastfeeding.) I'm so thankful Mark is supportive and encouraging of that.

I am incredibly grateful for this sweet girl. In so many ways God answered my specific prayers for this child. Just one example: Our foster license was for a child (or two) ages 0-3. We were praying for a baby girl or a sibling set with a baby girl in it. I so much wanted a baby so that the whole attachment/bonding part would be easier. Isaias came home to us at 9 months, and even though he was still a baby, we missed a LOT. For this adoption, I had specifically prayed for a baby girl younger than 6 months. (Mind you, no one else was praying for that. Just me.) Never in my wildest dreams did I even think to pray for a baby less than one month old. And yet- God in His graciousness brought us Addie. And with the exception of those first 26 days of her life, I won't have to miss a thing.
These past few weeks with Addie have been great. The transition of her into our family has been seamless. I am amazed at how Ella, Isaac and Isaias just get it. They understand that Addie is different than Baby, that she is their sister, and that she'll be staying. Just this morning on the way home from church, Isaac was talking about Baby and how we had her but then "we had to give her back. And now we have Addie but we don't have to give her back because we're gonna' adopt her." Yep.

Here's a rundown on the family dynamics with a new baby in the house:
Mark, I've already told you about. He's the best. He gets up for ALL nighttime feedings, dear readers. Every one. He has been extra helpful around the house, he adores his new little girl. It is a joy to see him again with a baby of ours. He's so good at this daddy-to-a-baby thing.

Ella is her wonderful nurturing self. She *loves* having a baby sister in Addie, and is so good with her. She and I are currently in fierce competition to see who can get Addie to smile for us. (She smiles often, and is starting to coo. Which I love.)

Isaac is very sweet with Addie. It always takes him awhile to warm up so he'll be way more into her within the next few weeks. (He was that way with Baby, too. Kind of disinterested at first, but after a few weeks was chatting with her, affectionate with her, and taking special interest in her. It'll come.) He has noticed, however, that my arms are nearly always full. I just need to make an extra effort to pull him into my arms or onto my lap when I'm able to.

Isaias is a very gentle and attentive big brother. It has been fun to watch him in this role. He asks frequently throughout the day, "Mommy, can I kiss Addie on her cheek?" Or, "Mommy, can I hold Addie?" Very sweet.

Some questions keep cropping up in emails, comments, and conversation, so I'm going to take a second to answer the most frequent of those:

Q: Was Adelia her name already or did you name her?
A: We named her. She legally has another name entirely, but we're changing it.

Q: Is she officially adopted yet?
A: No. We are fostering her with the intent to adopt her. Nothing is legal yet. But the courts are already moving towards her being placed permanently with us. There is little to no chance that she will not be ours, simply based on the circumstances of this case.

Q: How is she doing in terms of testing positive for cocaine at birth?
A: She is doing GREAT! Addie was not in withdrawal when she came home to us. She had already gone through withdrawal at the center she was at. For those first few days her feedings were taking a long time, and during much of that time we were really working to keep her awake to eat. But that is no more. She slurps down her bottles happily and is awake for nearly every feeding. She's also gaining weight steadily. (The day we got her she was 7 lbs, 6 oz. Exactly one week later she was up to 8 lbs, 3 oz.) She is most definitely thriving. It's now been a couple of weeks since she's been weighed, but I'm sure she's up past 9 lbs at this point.

There have been no other symptoms of the drug that we can see. She seems like a perfectly average newborn to us. (Just far more adorable than average.)

One of the things we learned about cocaine-affected babies is that the make-up of the drug itself changes from year to year. So a cocaine-affected baby two years ago may have exhibited completely different symptoms than we're seeing (or not seeing) in Addie, because there may be a different component to the drug (ie- they found a cheaper way to make it and are using something else.)

Down the road we may see symptoms of the drug but we're trying not to look for it.


I am sure there are other questions you have, so... feel free to ask away. I'm an open book and if there's anything you're itching to know, please do ask and I'll answer it in another post! :)

One more thing... I have been overwhelmed at all the packages arriving at our door from none-other-than YOU, my bloggy friends! Thank you so much!... from all of us. Several of you have made something for Addie, too- and those are my favorite kind of gifts. I am so impressed with your handiwork! :) I don't know how many times I've said to Mark, "And, honey. I don't even know this person. They just read my blog. Can you even believe this?" Thank you so very, very much for your kindness.

Blessings to you and yours today!

Some lighter fare...

You all have kindly reassured me that you weren't at all bogged down by the last series of posts, but I feel a little bogged down myself what with all the emotional upheaval of late on the blog. ~smile~

With that in mind, some lighter fare this morning... My friend Mrs. M tagged me for this meme (months ago?), so here goes:

1. Were you named after anyone? Nope.

2. When was the last time you cried? Wednesday night, for missing Baby, and for challenges I've had with one of our children.

3. Do you like your handwriting? Like it? Yes. Do I wish it were nicer? Also yes.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Salami.

5. Do you have kids? Yes. LOVE them.

6. If you were another person would you be friends with you? Yes.

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot? No.

8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes.

9. Would you bungee jump? No way.

10. What is your favorite cereal? Grape nuts is the *only* cereal I consistently eat. And I could eat it every morning for the rest of my life and be completely content. Mm. I could have a bowl right this moment. Grape nuts, with homemade yogurt drizzled with honey. Delish!

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Nope.

12. Do you think you are strong? Yes.

13. What is your favorite ice cream? Do I have to choose just one? How about this: if I could have a bowl of ice cream right this second, it would be Tillamook's Marionberry Pie. But I can't say that's my all-time favorite or anything. I simply can't narrow it down.

14. What is the first thing you notice about people? Warmth-- as in, friendliness, approachability.

15. Red or pink? Red

16. What is the thing that you like least about yourself? How quick I am to react in anger or impatience with my kids.

17. Who do you miss the most? Michelle.

19. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Trouser jeans, so... a dark blue denim. Shoes? I never wear shoes in the house. I'm barefoot at the moment.

20. Have you ever re-gifted? Yes. But only for stocking stuffers.

21. What are you listening to right now? My son, playing quietly.

22. If you were a crayon what color would you be? Yellow. Because it's cheery.

23. Favorite smells? Lilacs, the satsuma scent at The Body Shop, bread baking, and garlic. Oh- and in the fall, pumpkin-spice anything (candles, bread, cake...).

24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Um... I spoke with a social worker yesterday morning. I think that was the last time I was on the phone.

25. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes! Mrs. M, we should definitely do a breakfast date, each with our respective bowl of Grape nuts! ~smile~

26. Favorite sports to watch? I am actually quite proud to say that after *years* of "hating" football, I married a man who loves the sport and finally, I love to watch it with him. If his team is playing, that is. Second runner up? Baseball.

30. Favorite food? There is NO way I have just one. At the top, though, would be chips with guacamole dip, ice cream, bread, meat and potatoes, salads, fruit, salsa, ... and I'll stop right there because clearly I sound like a piggy.

31. Scary movies or happy endings? NO scary movies. I LOVE happy endings.

32. Last movie you watched? ~grin~ The word "watched" would be a bit generous, since I fell asleep about 20 minutes into it, but the other night we watched Letters from Iwo Jima. (And the fact that I fell asleep may have more to do with my sleep deprivation, not the movie itself.)

33. What color shirt are you wearing? Orange-y. Coral?

34. Summer or winter? Summer.

35. Hugs or kisses? Hugs.

36. Favorite dessert? I think this has probably been made clear. Ice cream. Next runner up? Cheesecake or berry pie (but not blueberry.)

39. What book are you reading now? I just finished a book called The Book Thief. There's also a stack of books by my bed that I'm in process on, but their names escape me at the moment.

40. What is on your mousepad? No mouse pad. Laptop.

41. What did you watch on tv last night? We don't watch TV.

42. Favorite sound? The voices of my husband and children.

43. Rolling stones or Beatles? Neither.

44. What is the furthest you have been from home? The Ukraine.

45. Do you have a special talent? No. (But just so you know, when I read that question aloud to Mark for help, he said: "Anything you do is special and talented." Awww... what a guy. He means it, too. That's the amazing thing.)

46. Where were you born? Washington.

If you've made it all the way through this meme, consider yourself tagged. I'd love to read your responses! :)

OH! And I *promise* my next post will be all about our sweet Addie! :)

Part 5: Final thoughts

In Part 1 I eluded to this chapter in the "book" of our lives, and the whys of it. I have known from the beginning that one of the main reasons -if not the only reason- that Baby entered our lives was so that we could cover her in prayer. That was absolutely clear to me from the moment she was in my arms. This precious little girl I beheld~ and what would her future hold? And so I have prayed for her future. I have prayed for her parents, her siblings, her home, for others in her life. I have prayed for her protection, (in fact, I specifically asked God to dispatch another angel to guard her life. I feel sure that He has.) I prayed for her purity, for her character. I have especially prayed for her salvation.

One of the best gifts I could give this child was to pray for her. That has not ceased now that she's gone. I continue to pray for this sweet girl, and intend to do so in the years to come.

I know that she will always hold a piece of my heart, this Baby. I told the kids a couple of weeks ago- (did I mention this already in this series? I forget....)- that I hope there will come a day, here in town, when our family will be walking through a store and will hear her name called. I'll freeze, turn, and get to catch a glimpse of her~ at whatever age she may then be. And I will remember holding her, kissing the top of her baby-soft head, and loving her.

And if that opportunity never comes, I have great hope that someday I will get to see her in heaven. And that thought right there makes me all teary.

There are two other reasons I see for this chapter of our lives.

One: It was a unique opportunity for our family- not just Mark and I, but our children, too- to minister alongside of each other. They all came aboard this project and each one felt the responsibility of "taking care" of Baby, for this season, until she could go back to her birthmom. They helped. They loved. (Oh, how quick they are to love!) And our dear children joined with us in praying for her.

Two: We think this was a preview of more to come in the realm of foster care for our family. The idea of foster care has been on my heart before, but this experience cemented it for us. And, even with the challenges it brought, we would do it again in a heartbeat. My overwhelming thought is gratitude for the opportunity God gave us to love this little girl.

Other thoughts:

Something that was particularly challenging for me throughout these past few weeks is that most people didn't seem to understand why my heart ached as much as it did. I think especially since we got Addie as we were saying goodbye to Baby, people's response was more or less, "Well, now that you have Addie here, that makes it easy." And they sort of ignored the part that it was a difficult thing, this saying goodbye. And it's why I've droned on and on about it here on my blog. Because I can. :) (And truthfully, having Addie here did make it easier. My arms weren't empty; I had another baby to love and to hold and to care for. This time with the *huge* perk that she will (Lord willing) stay.) But the grief of Baby leaving was still very raw, even those first days Addie was here with us. I missed Baby. I had a connection with her I didn't yet have with Addie. (But no worry, I have it now.)

I want to say a special thank you to Tracy, Dawn, Overwhelmed With Joy, Maxine, and Lisa. Each of you have been or are currently foster moms and you were hugely supportive and prayerful for me over this past season. You were able to offer me words of comfort and prayers from a place of having been there, and that so ministered to me. Thank you for allowing God to use you in that way!

Some more thoughts...

Something I've said several times in my life: "I could never do foster care. I'd never be able to say goodbye to them. I just couldn't do it." It's a lie. I can do it (through Christ who strengthens me). I did do it. And I hope to do it again. (And I'm not even sobbing over Baby anymore. It's more like a pang in my heart when I think of her, but that's just a prompting to pray for her, and I'm thankful for it.)

Another thing I worried about: "It will be so hard for my kids to say goodbye. They'll love this little one like a sister and then all of a sudden she'll be gone from their lives? How will they handle that?" They handle it much better than we do, dear readers. Much better. Kids are just resilient. They bounce back and carry on. It's simple in their minds, somehow. An example of this: A few days after Baby had left, I was a bit tearful over it and asked Ella, "Honey, are you missing Baby?" Her response: "No. I don't even remember what she looks like, or what her cry was like or anything. I just forget." Pretty matter-of-fact.

One thing I did think of as we said goodbye that morning: It would be much, much harder if Baby were older. A goodbye would be far more challenging with the added difficulty of explaining- somehow- what was happening to an older child. But when that time comes, God's grace is sufficient.

And. I do hope and pray that some of you will consider getting your foster care license. I absolutely think that it is the church (us!) that should be rallying around these orphans in the foster care system. Because we can offer them the love of Jesus, we can offer them Hope.

I read something Sara Groves said regarding a CD she'd put out, (and this is not a quote by any means), but she said something about how she was convicted about the amount of time she had spent grooming her own faith, and how God had challenged and stretched her to look outward. (And her new CD was a response to what God was doing in her heart.)

This made me wonder if sometimes we don't do that with our own families. We read books, blogs, we figure out just what we can do and how we can do it better, we groom our families. While I absolutely agree that our husbands and children should be our priority -next to God- I wonder if we are doing that at the expense of reaching out to the orphans? Perhaps God would call us out, expanding our vision of family, stirring our hearts and lives to embrace these children that so desperately need a safe place, the security of a loving daddy and mommy, the structure and routine of a family life, the hope of Jesus Christ.