Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ships Passing in the Night...and Day...

Remember the days when the weekend meant you got to spend 48 hours of uninterrupted time together - watching TV, going out to eat, wearing pjs till noon?

Now, I'd just settle for 48 minutes!

That new job I have, although wildly wonderful, helpful, and actually kind of fun, is robbing me of all my Herb time.  I would say it's affecting my marriage, but honestly, I haven't seen Herb enough in the last week to know if it is or not.

Ideally, it seemed like we'd have a few hours after my shift to still spend together, but we're both so tired from having jobs and then playing single parent while the other one is at work, that any conversation beyond, "How was your day," is just too physically taxing.

This weekend was especially bad.  Herb was doing work at church all day Saturday, and then in between church and his Sunday night radio shift, I took a lunch shift at the restaurant.  All told, I saw Herb for maybe 2 hours of awake time in the last 48.

I know this is probably coming off as very complainy.  But what I'm hoping, no praying, is that this is the stuff that lifelong marriages are made out of.  This is the season of our life that makes us better teammates, companions, lovers, and parents in the end.  This is one of those trials that makes the future that much sweeter.

Am I being idealistic?

I keep reminding myself this is only a season, this is only a season, this is only a season.  And I'm trying to limit the "I miss my husband" meltdowns to one a week, and preferably not at work in front of people I hardly know, which may have happened yesterday.

In the meantime, I'm just really grateful I don't work EVERY night, Herb doesn't have to install new speakers at church every weekend, and my son is so clever and smart and loveable, making all of this totally worth it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Night At Dinner

Random things from dinner last night.  It's one of the few times in the day when Levi has both mine and Herb's full attention, and it's at this time when he usually does his best tricks.


Herb and I talk about expanding our family, but that's where it ends for now, just talking.  In the meantime, Levi has explored the idea of being an only child.

Case in point:  He has been practicing giving himself high fives and pounding his own fists.

[Video Here]


After making the Solo Pound It Video, Levi was sitting in this ridiculously cheesy pose.  He's practicing for his school pictures.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aqua - Red Loving

 Recently, I whipped up a couple of these Little Guy ties.  I got the pattern from etsy, and the fabric from one of Herb's old dress shirts.  I made one for Levi, Roman, and Liam.  I just wish I could have the three of them together for a matching picture!  Unfortunately, Liam and Roman live in Hawaii.  That's okay though, matching ties on our boys somehow makes me feel a little closer to Lauren!

Anyway, I made Levi the aqua tie and then realized I didn't actually have a shirt to match it.  I went out on a limb and tried it with the red striped Christmas shirt, and I loved it!  Here is Levi posing with the coordinating aqua and red Roman shade in our kitchen.  I think I'm on an aqua and red kick.

I know the jury is still out for some people.  This color combo may not be your cup of tea, and that's okay!  But, in my defense, even Target is recognizing it's awesomeness.  Check out this chevron dish towel!  The dish dowel and coordinating pasta were a gift from Jess - doesn't she know me so well? I just wish that I had the aqua pasta for my wedding.  My little color-loving heart is just going to explode when I serve it up with a side of red sauce.

So, there you have it.  I just wrote an entire post about loving my favorite color, aqua, and it's accent friend, red.  

And speaking of loving aqua, recently I found a couple blogs devoted just to the color aqua. I am so angry I didn't think of creating this myself!

House of Turquoise -
Everything Turquoise -

What's your favorite color combo?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Patience At Target Pays Off Again!

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Target deals strike again.  Try not to be too jealous though, because these are all items I refrained from buying Levi in the last few months.  Even though they were adorable and reasonably priced, I knew I would be happier if I waited till they went on clearance.  There are sizable 70% off racks at my local Target this week.

 I'm especially excited for the 4 pc Christmas outfit - $26, down to $7.80.  I bought it in a 3t - hopefully that was a good guess for next year.  If not, we'll be having some snazzy fall church clothes.

The corduroy pants and stripped thermal tee are also buy-aheads - a 5t and 3t. I know, even if I fight it with all my might, Levi will grow into those sizes some day!

The little rocker jammies were originally $9, marked down to $2.68, and on the Target website, you can print off a coupon for 20% off a J.O.Y. children's apparel item.  Double score!

So to recap, successful Target shopping has three parts:

1. Wait for things to go on clearance.  
Patience, patience, patience.

2.  Buy ahead for future seasons.

3.  Match coupons with clearance items.

Also, I get weekly emails from Money Saving Mom about great Target Deals.

And no, I am not paid or perked by Target to shop there and blog about it, but seriously, this one-income mom wouldn't survive without it, and it breaks my heart to see other people wasting money on full price things!


[Image Source]
Bear with me, I'm processing the simple word hope.

For the first time, this morning I realized that hope has two connotations.  Most of the time when I use the word, I'm referring to something I "hope will happen."

I hope I will find a husband.
I hope we can adopt a baby.
I hope Isaac will get healed.
I hope we can move.
I hope we get good tenants in our house.

These hopes aren't guaranteed to have the positive outcome, and in fact, some of them have not.

I remember one time at a funeral, my mom was upset because the pastor kept saying, "We have a hope..."  She was frustrated because she had more than hope that Fred was in heaven.  She knew him well, knew he trusted and followed Jesus, and felt he already had assurance that he would be spending eternity in heaven.

But maybe that pastor wasn't saying "we hope Fred is in heaven."  Maybe he was using the second connotation of the word hope.

Ephesians 1:18 says, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you..."

This verse addresses the hope that is assurance of the work Jesus has already done.  It says we can KNOW the hope.  Jesus has already conquered death, providing a way to eternal life for those who believe in him.  Who put their hope in him.

So the eternal hope we have isn't that "I hope I get to go to heaven when I die," no, that I am assured of because I have trusted Jesus with my life.  But rather,

"Life totally sucks sometimes, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I have a hope to look forward to; eternity in heaven with Jesus."

Isaac's word was hope.  Often times I thought it just referred to hoping he would get better or hoping his sickness and death wasn't all in vain, that it served a bigger purpose.  Now I think that Isaac must have also had the other version of hope in his head.  He knew he may or may not be healed, but regardless, his hope was in the fact that either way, at the end of his life he would be running on golden streets, taking a 200 year tour of the world, and meeting Jesus face to face.  And I think he was pretty excited about that.

Because Jesus has granted my eternal hope, how can I not trust him with my worldly ones?  He knows me best - he created me, he chose me - what have I to fear?

And that is the ultimate hope fulfilled.

So am I way off here?  I'd love to hear some feedback about hope - did you ever realize we use the word in two different ways?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

His Daddy's Eyes

This week I went to a mommy group for the first time at a local church - what fun!  Ironically, I knew more faces there than Melody, a regular, who had invited me along!  Leave it to being back in Lancaster County and the good old Mennonite game.

That being said, I ran into an acquaintance from college who I hadn't seen or talked to in 6 years, and she obviously had not heard our adoption story.  Upon meeting Levi, she remarked,

"Oh my goodness what a cutie!  Does he have his daddy's eyes, or what?!"

Um, no, actually he doesn't.  Thanks anyway.  But I couldn't bring myself to correct her in front of all those people; that would have not helped anyone.  Instead, I politely thanked her and commented on her cutie of a baby.

Later, Melody and I chuckled about the awkwardness of that comment.  Melody told me that as crazy as it is, she knows several adoptive families where the children and parents' features favor each other.  And truly, it's not the first time someone has said Levi looks like Herb or I.  A time or two I have heard,

"Man, if I didn't know Levi was adopted, I would have thought he was yours."

To which, if I'm feeling soap-boxy, I reply,

"He is ours."

And then they usually correct themselves and say,

"I mean, he looks just like you/Herb."

Herb's aunt sent me some old pictures out of the blue this week, and if you look at Herb and Levi side by side at the same age, yes, I think I do see some similarities.  What a coincidence!

Herb, Levi, Herb
Coming full circle, as Melody and I talked about God, adoption, and grace, we realized, just as we're adopted by God, isn't our goal to look more and more like him?  I hope as people get to know me they say,

"Wow, she really has her Father's hands/ eyes/ heart."

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Couch Jump

This little stunt made us say, "Yup, he's a boy."

**No babies were persuaded to participate or harmed in the making of this video.**


(If the embedded video doesn't work, check out The Couch Jump video here.)


In the weeks and months before my two biggest life events - marriage and motherhood - I prayed that God would use these life-changers to teach me more about Him and His character.  In marriage, He has given me an amazingly loving, generous, sacrificial husband who is doing his best to follow Jesus' example.  Because I know Herb is seeking God's will for our family, I know I can trust his leadership, the way the church clings to Jesus.  As a mother, God is showing me that the unconditional love I have for Levi doesn't even compare to the unconditional love God has for me.  God is teaching me that love is the foundation for discipline.

One learning opportunity I never previously considered, though probably obvious to everyone else, was the testimony that our adoption story would give as a real life example of God's adoption of us.  I know I've touched on it before; it really hit home the day the Levi's birth certificate arrived in the mail.  Now as I'm reading through Ephesians as part of the Good Morning Girls Bible study, Levi's adoption and my spiritual adoption are really on my mind again!

Ephesians 1:3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
(Underlining added by me.)

It makes me think about how we chose to adopt before Levi was even conceived.  When Levi was created, God knew he would be our son.  It reminds me that in the same way Levi's name has been changed (even to the extent of his birth certificate and the fact that as far as legality is concerned, the person under his former name has never existed), my life before Jesus is gone too - I am a new creation!

I can see His hands so clearly orchestrating the construction of our family - how can I do anything else but trust Him with every other detail of my life?  And I'm so thankful that God has taken the time to give me real life, living, breathing, loving examples, in Herb and Levi, of His incredible love for me.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Proverbial Tentmaking

If you think this is goign to be a post about how to DIY a tent, then you're wrong.  But it's a good guess!

I had to get a job this week.  But my work options were pretty limited, as in I could only work after 5 pm, when Herb gets home from work.  Of course I'd love to get more piano/clarinet/guitar students,  but until more come along, waitressing was pretty much my only other option.

I applied for a couple of jobs on New Years Eve, but the job I really wanted was at our favorite restaurant here in town.  Coincidently, earlier that day a server position at said restaurant became open!  One thing led to another, I was hired, and I started on Tuesday.The people were incredibly friendly, helpful, and nice.  The food and beer is so delicious that I want to tell everyone in the world to eat there.  The food is priced at a point that makes a server's tips quite nice.  And it is precisely one mile from my house.  Awesome, awesome, awesome, and awesome.

God had provided a job within days of deciding I needed one and a way for Herb to be home in time to watch Levi so I could get to work.

And yet I was still feeling sorry for myself.

Tuesday night after my shift, I walked in the door, kicked off my shoes, threw my balled up apron on the stairs, and began my pity party.  Tears were welling in my eyes, my pockets were empty (since I was just training), feet were aching (when was the last time I literally didn't sit for 5 hours?), I was smelling restauranty, and feeling like I had toilet germs everywhere.  Herb was here hanging out with our pastor, and when they asked me how work was, the sobs poured out.

I can see now it was totally my pride, but all I could say was, "I practically have a master's degree, and here I am cleaning toilets?!  This is so not fair."

And Dennis, bless his heart, had just the right encouragement.  He reminded me that by making this career sacrifice I am blessed to be able to be with Levi all day.  He commended Herb and I for "sticking it out" and figuring out ways to take care of Levi and our financial obligations.  Sure I could go back to teaching, but then I would lose all those precious moments.

He pointed out that in the New Testament, Paul "labored over tent making as not to be a burden" to anyone he was ministering to. (1 Thessalonians 2:9)

Waiting tables, serving food, and cleaning toilets at the end of the night is my proverbial tent making.  This part time job enables me to maintaining my "daytime ministry" in motherhood.  Which is seriously my favorite thing ever.

I am so thankful for my little boy, and the time we get to spend together.  I am so happy that Herb is willing to make sacrifices so I can stay home with Levi, and even after working three jobs, is still willing to spend quality time with Levi in the evening while I work.  I am delighted that God pretty much dropped a great job into my lap.

And I'm really grateful for Dennis inspiring my new "tent making perspective."

What tents are you making?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Love the Number 12: January

I love the number twelve.  I'm not superstitious, but whenever I play any number guessing game, I always pick the number twelve.  (Sometimes I even win.)  I was really, quite dorkily, excited about this year being 2012.  In honor of the year of 12, I am going to do a monthly series on all the reasons 12 is special to me and all the things it represents.

There are plenty of weird idiosyncratic things I have concerning the number, but for now, I'll address today's date.
January 12

The year was 2004.  It was the first day of my fourth semester of college.  It was a Monday.

It was the day Herb and I became "us."

You can read the whole story of January 12, 2004 right here (or check out the entire love story from the beginning, here).

Though this is no new content, today, January 12, is an awesome reminder of the last eight years and the blessing that Herb is in my life. He is my best friend, my favorite musician, my supporter and helper, the coolest person in the world, and the love of my life!  I am so thankful for January 12.

Happy January 12th to you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

31 and still so fun

Today my dear Herb turned 31.  That's 31 more years than predicted!

No, but seriously, every year on his birthday I'm reminded what a gift his life is, and what a privileged it is that he choose ME to spend it with!

The PA Farm Show always falls around the time of his birthday.  Two years ago we went on a Saturday, his 29th birthday.  Deep in the throws of {impatiently} waiting for a baby, we were especially in tune to all the strollers around us and hoped that next year we could bring our own baby to the farm show.

2010 Farm Show
Last year, we did indeed have our own little baby to bring to the farm show, but at 5 months old, Levi wasn't all that into it.  But he was still cute in his bibs!  Last year we said, "Oh next year the farm show will be so much more fun with a one year old!"

2011 Farm Show
And we were right.  Levi was full of words like duck, chicken, and cow.  He liked getting on the goose's eye level, but wasn't so sure about petting a huge horse.  He sucked down half of my maple frozen yogurt and an order of chicken nuggets.

It's also my sister in law, Jocelyn's birthday.  For all the years that we were friends, I could never remember her exact birth date, so conveniently, I found a husband who has the same birthday so I can always remember it.
My brother and niece at the farm show.  Joelle is saying "cheese."
Not sure why Herb loves the farm show so much (you know, cause we are soooo farmy with our yard that we don't even mow oursevles), but it's a fun birthday tradition and something to look forward too after the holidays.

I love you, Herb!  Happy birthday.  

(Don't worry, I saved all the super cheesy lovey stuff for his card.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

We Have {No} Explaining To Do

So often I feel like I try to squeeze open adoption relationships into a framework of something else - something more explainable, more common.  Step family relationships, extended family, family friend, etc. But really it's none of those things.

Open adoption is completely its own unique amazing experience.

Levi's sister, Savannah, demonstrates this perfectly.  She often calls Levi her little brother or baby brother, which he is.  When she helps him during dinner, protects him from a fall, teaches him things like screaming and hide and seek, or hugs his guts out, I can see that she definitely gets the brother-sister thing!  She is an awesome big sister.

But then with her next breath, rather than baby brother, she'll refer to him as "your baby."

I love the way that in her precious, innocent mind this needs no explaining.  He is my little baby; he is her baby brother.

And that's just the way it is.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Baby Monster

Jess's post about the Green Monster was PERFECT timing today, because I've been meaning to write about my version, the Baby Monster.

To catch up, basically The Green Monster is this amazingly delicious and super healthy smoothie created by a really healthy runner over at Oh She Glows.  I learned about these powerful energy packing smoothies from my friend Samantha.  When I started making them for myself, my simple recipe went like this:

Michelle's Green Monster
2 Handfuls of Fresh Spinach (sometimes I use frozen, too)
8oz skim or coconut milk
3 ice cubes
1 banana
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

And I drink one several times a week - the only reason I don't do it every day is that I can't seem to keep enough spinach and bananas on hand!

Anyway, a few months ago, when Levi saw me drinking one, he got jealous.  Well of course I jumped on the opportunity to make one for him - can you just imagine getting all those good things in a little baby!!

The main adaption I had to make was skim to whole milk and dropping out the peanut butter for my then under one year old.
The Baby Monster
1-2 Handfuls of Fresh Spinach
6-8oz whole milk
1 ice cube
1 banana
5 tbsp baby cereal (flavored is good, too) - wheat, rice, oatmeal, etc
1 tsp vanilla

And just like Jess promised, you really cannot taste the spinach!  Now that Levi is older and we have established that there is no peanut allergy, I also throw in about 1 tsp of peanut butter into his smoothie.


As you can see, he LOOOOOVES it.  Now, if I could just get Herb to eat them, too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fighting Fear, Testing Vows, and a Lullabye

Yesterday was a rough one.  Herb woke up with some concerns about his kidney.  I started the day feeling like it was no big deal - we have been there and done that.  But soon the weight of what-could-be was heavy.  Just because this is old hat doesn't mean it's welcome hat.

For the majority of the day, I was absent.  Sure,  I was there with Levi, we were at home together all day, but I wasn't really THERE.  My mind was in a hospital room sitting reliving walking beside someone through dialysis.   It traveled to dark places that test the part of our marriage vows that I cried through at our wedding.  When I said "in sickness and in health," I knew the reality of "in sickness."  But we have been so fortunate to be "in health" for 6 years.  I started thinking about "for richer or poorer." Knowing how "poor" we are now, what would happen if Herb got too sick to work?  Well, poorer, I guess.  And last night we went though medical ordeals, it was just the two of us - how in the world would we handle hospital visits and whatnot as a family of three?

The irony is in the middle of the night phone call I had with my dear friend Lauren two nights ago.  Her brand spankin' new baby has been in the NICU, learning how to breath on his own.  Covered in prayer and trusting in God's sovereignty, Lauren has no fear.  Fear is so useless - what will be will be, and at the end of the day God is still bigger than everything else and still on His throne.

And there I was, just mere hours later, fighting a raging battle with fear itself.

It will not win.

Praise God, the bloodwork and testing he had done today are coming back clear for my dear Herb; probably just a little hiccup on the post-transplant road.

And in the meantime, I will put on my big girl panties.  The result of my mental absence yesterday lead to way too many  falls, cuts, scrapes, and goose eggs.  In fact, poor little Levi may or may not have a bruise on his forehead that looks like he is sprouting a unicorn horn. {I don't want to talk about it, I'm embarrassed.}

Finally, as yesterday drew to a close, and I rocked my little goose egg baby to sleep, a lullaby came to mind.  I loved to dream about singing this lullaby to my future baby, but now that I think of it, I don't know if I ever actually remembered to sing it to him.  How timely that God laid this tune on my heart last night - last night it was my promise and apology to Levi, but it also served as a reminder to me from my Papa.

JJ Heller - Keep You Safe (listen here)
Quiet your heart, it's just a dream, go back to sleep
I'll be right here, I'll stay awake as long as you need me
To slay all the dragons and keep out the monsters, I'm watching over you
My love is a light driving away all of your fear
So don't be afraid, remember I made a promise to keep you safe
You'll have your own battles to fight when you are older
You'll find yourself frozen inside, but always remember
If you feel alone, facing the giants, and you don't know what to do
My love is a light driving away all of your fear
So don't be afraid, remember I made a promise to keep you safe