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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Levi (and his parents)

Dear People I Love and Love Me, Too,     
                
Welcome to a 2013 recap from the point of view of a three year old.  Yes, that’s right, I’m three now!  We celebrated with a Baseball Birthday Party (see picture) and I talked about it for months following.  All my friends and family played a mean game of wiffle ball and we ate Orioles cupcakes.

Speaking of (one of my favorite sayings) baseball, I love sports - baseball, soccer, hockey, football, tennis, golf.  I love playing them outside with Daddy or inside on the TV.  Sports and matchbox cars are definitely my thing.

Daddy’s been just as busy as always.  He works at Clair Brothers building stuff, and then he also works at church doing music.  On Sundays after church and naps, he goes to work at the radio station and talks in the microphone.  Mommy goes to teach lessons at night sometimes after Daddy gets home.  We’ve also been babysitting my friend Baby Charlotte. I really like it best when they’re both home and we play Candyland, Go Fish, or Memory.

I have to leave sometimes, though, too.  I go to school two mornings a week.  My biggest concern is wondering what in the world Mommy does while I’m at school.  She usually says “cleaning” or “groceries,” but I have a feeling it’s more like “watching TV,” “doing the computer,” or “craft stuff.”

Other highlights from the year include a being the ring bearer in my birth mom’s wedding (see picture!!), road trips to the Outer Banks, Pittsburgh, and DC (to visit some of you), a trip to Hershey park, and enough play dates to keep me happy and Mommy sane.

I’m excited for 2014.  I am going to turn four.  Daddy is talking about going back to school. Mommy’s hoping to become better at sewing and cooking.  I’m thinking about asking them for a little brother or sister.  So, who knows?!  I’ll keep you updated for sure!

Ok, that’s all.

Love,

Levi


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marriage Is So Kind

Are you a fan of The Office?  We are big fans here.  A part of me died when the show ended.  One of my favorite quotes from the finale was when Andy Bernard said this:

"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."



Where I'm going with this is along the same vain, but a little different...

The other day when Levi was asking about our rings and our wedding I took about an hour to tell him about our wedding and he patiently (and excitedly) looked at pictures from that happy day in 2006.

I gave him a play by play of how we met, referring to "my friend Herb," and I think Levi wasn't sure if that was "daddy" or not.  It was my nod to "How I Met Your Mother," but three-year-old style.

Anyway, when I got to the day of our wedding, this is where our conversation went:

Me: "Levi, do you know what Daddy said to me at our wedding?"
Levi: "No, what?"
Me: "He said, "Michelle, I promise I will love you until the day I go to Heaven."
Levi: [HUGE gasp] "Oh Mommy...wow....THAT IS SOOO KIND.  THAT IS SOOO GREAT.  Oh man."

Telling Levi our "love story," made me realize (again) how special it is. Like Andy Bernard said, they were the good old days.  When I was living it out (10 years ago) our friendship, courting, and engagement seemed fun and special, but not because it was like a fairy tale, but because it was ours.  But now, getting to retell it with the knowledge of how the story continues to unfold and seeing it through the eyes of our son, our love story feels like the best story ever told.  It has aged well, it is better with the years.  More touching, more fantastic, more like happily ever after.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seriously, I Need A Butt Kick

So, like I said, we went to a meeting.

It was at an agency we've never worked with about a topic of which we had little to no knowledge.  The meeting was extremely helpful in illustrating options and helping us form new expectations. But, honestly, we left feeling a little less hopeful and a little more disappointed.

The next morning, sitting in the quiet of my living room, I started getting a little weepy.  The familiar sting of baby fever laced with infertility started to creep up on me and I thought,

"This is not how I thought it would be."

Meaning, this isn't the way I thought life would be.

And then, thankfully, suddenly a wave of reality washed over me.

SERIOUSLY.

WHO IN THE WORLD HAS HAD LIFE TURN OUT THE WAY IT WAS GOING TO BE?!  GET OVER IT.

So, I snapped out of it.  Really, somehow (itwastheholyspirit) I did.

Sometimes I need a mental kick in the butt.  Or a real one.  Feel free to give me a real one the next time you see me.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Here Comes the Bride

Today Levi asked my why I wear two rings but Daddy wears one.  I explained the engagement ring vs. the wedding ring.  He said, "You and Daddy had a wedding like Jen and Ricky?!"  He was so excited.  He remembers their wedding because it was only a few months ago, and he was the oh-so-adorable ring bearer.


I remember reading books about open adoption, long before Levi was ever in our life.  One adoption I read about was "SO open," that eventually the adoptive family was involved in the wedding of the birth mother.  Oh, how scandalous and unheard this seemed to me at the time.  I could not fathom how such a potentially strange relationship could be so tight-knit.  Even the book I was reading painted this scenario as the exception, no the rule. But I wanted that.  I was  nervous, but I wanted that kind of relationship badly.

Fast forward four years, and we have it.


My heart was so touched when Jen asked Levi to be a ring-bearer in her wedding.  As I stood back watching Levi pose for a million pictures with the happy couple and his sister, my heart swelled with gratitude.  I am so thankful to be a part of their lives...and that they want to be a part of ours, too.


There are not feelings of jealousy or fear, the way the book warned.  There is only love, and excitement to see how our relationship will blossom and grow as Levi does, too.




Monday, December 16, 2013

Too Much Control

For a few months now, maybe longer, Herb and I have been throwing around the ideas of what expanding our family looks like.  If you've been a reader here for any amount of time, you know it's not just a matter of "pulling the goalie."  We're not your average baby-makers.  So many options, yet sometimes they all feel so limiting.   Admittidly, I've been living in fear of making a wrong misstep.

Is our family "just right" with three members?
Is it selfish of me to want another baby (even though I'm not sure if I even do)?
Is it selfish of me to be a stay at home mom for only one child?
Does wanting another child make me seem ungrateful for the one we already have?
Are we in a financially stable place to take on more children?
How are we even going to have more children?
Is this the right time?  

I hemmed and hawed over these questions and more for weeks on end.

And then my wise friend Lynne so delicatly said pointed out that the problem with our infertility is not that child bearing is out of our control, but, rather, Herb and I have too much control in our family planning and expansion.  All we have is time to think about endless options and scenarios.

In thinking about expanding our family, we have a lot more "what if"s and "how will we"s and can let the fear of each stop us from moving forward with what we should be doing, as compared to normal baby-makers who can say, "Let just try and let it in the hands of God."  Our version of "Let's Just Try," involves scheduling meetings, doctors visits, insurance calls, and other seemingly logistical nightmares.  I was letting each of those things stop me from moving forward.

I have too much time and space to analyze my own selfishness, wants, and needs.  I want to just relinquish control and let what will be, be, but if I do nothing, and not just take at least one step forward, nothing will change.  Much to my surprise, for once I don't actually LIKE the ball being in my court and having this much control.

So, what is next for the Suereths?

Well, this is not a post to share big news, because I don't have any.

But we went to a meeting. We're seeking out options.  We're adjusting expectations. We're on our knees while slowly putting one foot in front of the other.

One step forward.

I don't know 2014 holds for our little family of three, but I can guess it's bigger than my dreams, bigger than what I can figure out on my own.

In the meantime, if you're a family built through adoption like ours, I'd love to converse with you over how you plan to build your family from here.   I'm open to lots of ideas and would really love to talk with some people who have walked this journey, too.

source


Monday, December 2, 2013

Green Water, Red Water

Tonight at bedtime, after we prayed, it was song time. I suggested a Christmas tune, and gave my best rendition of Jingle Bells.

"How about "Green Water?"" Levi asked.

""Green Water?" We don't know that song, how does it go?"

"Green water, red water,
God laid them down in green water."

Trying our best not to laugh, we asked him where he learned that song.

"God gave it to me."

So much for no new revelations. Sola scriptura?


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Thanksgiving Feast


Levi's preschool has an annual Thanksgiving Feast.  All the three year old classes are assigned Pilgrim or Indian hats (which they make).  They stand on the stage and sing a few songs, and then join their parents in the cafeteria for a feast of chicken nuggets, mashed potatos, and corn.

You can imagine my delight when Levi's class was the last to file on to the stage, which means they would be in the front row.  Easier to see, easier to take pictures.  I was really excited to watch a little kid show from the audience, as compared to my years as an elementary music teacher where I was the one responsible for the show.

Levi walks in with his class, and it's clear he didn't realize what "audience" meant.  He is looking all around, but not necessarily for Herb and I - I don't think it's crossed his mind yet that we'd be there.  We were sitting in the third row, and when he finally spotted us, his eyes lit up and he waved.

As the children all found their spots on the stage and got adjusted by the teachers, they all were silently grinning and waving like made men.  Cameras were in the air, flashing to my left and right, and Levi just keep smiling at Herb and I.


"Hey Mom!  Where'd you park?"

Herb and I looked at each other.  Surely that wasn't our child who was yelling from the stage.  

"Mom!!  Where did you park?"


At this point, I was already choked up from the sheer adorableness of my son in his first show, so when he started calling out to me, I could do nothing but hang my head and laugh hysterically.  But it was the "I have the giggles in the middle of the sermon" kind of laugh.

Then Levi, who must actually be a little Amish, realized that everyone was taking pictures of what he perceived to be himself.  I should

mention that lately he won't smile for the camera, and in fact turns his head to the side if he sees one.

He looks at someone in the front row, who was probably taking a picture of their own kid, and says,

"Hey!  Stop doing that."

This is Levi's reaction to the camera.

Shortly later, the singing started, which of course was adorable.  There was one OMG moment when a little girl fell off the back of the risers, but poof, just like that, she was back up with a smile on her face.  Obviously there was a teacher sitting right behind here.

After a few songs, the students sat down in their spots and one teacher began reading them a Thanksiving book.  Once again, everyone was quiet, except one child, who shall remain nameless (itwaslevi). 

"TURKEYS RUN AROUND!!!!"


I only wish I had these outbursts on video.  

We joined the class for the feast of potatoes, corn, and nuggets, and I coerced Levi into one posed picture.


It was a fun morning.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blessed

In June I wrote about how I was feeling like a 1950s housewife - cloth diapers and potty training with no dryer, dangling on the clothes line.  One car broken, leaving Herb and I to share the good car, usually meaning I stayed home all day or walked to wherever I needed to go.  Windows thrown open, avoiding the installation of air conditioning units (which was changed two weeks later).

In the last 2 months, both of these things have been remedied...for free.

Hence the title, Blessed.

We were given a car (a 1995 Toyota with 220,000 miles on it, hehe, but it goes from A to B!) AND a clothes dryer.

The point of this is

a. to follow up and make sure you don't think I'm some kind of martyr

b. to publically thank Denise, Cali, and Candy for literally making my life so much simpler and blessing Herb and I in ways they probably don't even know

c. to remind myself again that God provides and give Him credit where it is due.  It didn't happen right away, but just when we needed it most. The car and dryer are both older models - but they WORK perfectly and meet our needs exactly.

He is good, He is sovereign, and He cares about the minor stuff, too.

Therefore, do now worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace the transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Levi-isms

A continuation of me recording funny things I want to remember...see other ones here...


Levi loves the song "Ho Hey," by the Lumineers.  Blame my love of it on Uncle Josh, and my love turned into Levi's love.  In fact, you can even here it in Levi's birthday video.  So, the chorus goes,

"I belong to you, you belong to me, you're my sweetheart.
I belong to you, you belong to me, you're my sweetheart (Ho!  Hey!)"

So, today Levi (very innocently) sings,

"I belong to you, you belong to me, you're my sweet ho."

Similarly, he's been making up his own songs.  This song I'm going to tell you about is, I believe, based on "Ho, Hey."  Levi's song goes like this,

"Listen to my heart, listen to my heart, listen to my heart, and all the way it cries."

Pretty depressing for a three year old, right?  I guess Cana already broke his heart (Melody, do you know about this?).

Finally, the other day he was play a basketball game on the iPad and he shouted,

"Go, Starbucks!  Go!"




Friday, November 1, 2013

October Recap (also ...the most pictures ever in one post)

October has been a busy month!!

First was Jen and Ricky's wedding.  Levi was the ring bearer, Savannah was the flower girl, and Herb and I helped out with decorations, music, invitations, and wedding craziness.  I WILL be doing an entire post on this because it was a HUGE dream come true in my "open adoption" scenario...just waiting for some more pictures.




The very same weekend of Jen's wedding, we high-tailed it to Baltimore for the Girlfriend Getaway conference.  Herb is on the team for this season helping with sound/lighting/technical things, so it's a fun excuse for us to get away together and get to serve in a ministry together.  Although, I really do love me some girlfriend time (me and Jess below).



The following week farm show (read more about that here).


The second weekend of October, we traveled to Pittsburgh to spend some time with Herb's brother's family and his mom and step-dad.  Levi enjoyed doing some trick-or-treating with his cousins, Ellie and Cora.  Yay for a last minute costume.  Overalls for the win.




Josh and Sarah also treated us to the Natural History Museum (they have a season pass) and Levi LOVED playing with these dinosaurs.  Mental note - find some of these for Christmas.


On the last day of our Pittsburgh trip, we spend the day with Herb's mom and step-dad.


They took us to a cute little town with lots of shops, Valant, which I have now coined "The Pittsburgh Lititz."


In the middle of the month things got pretty quiet while Levi and I fought of disease (ok, exaggeration, it was just an ear infection and bronchitis), I had to not watch Charlotte for the first time (due to said sickness), and meanwhile the roof on our rental house in York gave way to the rain (and now we need a new roof...booo).  We did squeeze in a few playdates and have dinner with some old friends, but it was comparatively quiet to the rest of the month.

At the end of the month, we met up with some old friends from college and visited Millersville during homecoming weekend.  We had a great time checking out the new music building (our jealousy turned in to "this is the house we built").
Some of the old gang...with kids now!

The Suereths in front of the new music building. 

We've been there multiple times since graduation, but each time I get a little more sappy thinking about the place where Herb and I met, built a friendship, started dating/courting, and planned a wedding.  Happy memories.  Not to mention a solid music education and a few more amazing friendships that have lasted the last decade.

Sammy found all of our old recital CDs.

Levi and I in a practice room...playing "Tractor Tractor."

The iconic stairs of Lyte Auditorium...which now lead to nowhere.

The "next generation" of Marauders?


Finally, last night rounded out the month with a second go at trick or treating, this time in our own neighborhood.  My brother, mom, and neice joined us.



The kids were dressed as Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day.  Joelle already had the crown and white dress (actually a hand-me-down from Levi's other cousin, Cora!).  I found the red shirt for Levi (actually a bathrobe) for $1.50 on Wednesday, and my mom had lots of gold buttons in her stash.  His sash is a neck tie, his belt is actually mine, and the hat was ten cents at the thrift store.


They look pretty acurate, right?



Ok, not really, but it was still fun!  And Grandma Meemaw had fun handing out candy at our house.  And then she cleaned up my kitchen.  She's pretty much a rock star.



As if that wasn't enough, after trick-or-treating Mom watched Levi for a few hours while Herb and I went to lead worship at a really special ministry that was taking place at our church.  I won't go into details about it here, but our job was to just worship for a few hours while people came and went, some staying to pray or read or journal.  Picking music to last for two hours was an ordeal - and after those two hours were over, my poor little left hand pinky was toast.  (Octaves, much?)  Our voices were tired, we were sweaty, our backs were sore, but what an awesome experience.  Herb and I love doing worship together, and it's pretty special to think that we've been making music together for 12 years - even longer than we've been a couple.  Glad we could use our gifts to honor God and serve some people last night.

October was fun - but I was grateful when I flipped the calendar today to see that it is pretty much empty at this point (for now).


Monday, October 21, 2013

Four Years, Four Rooms

Every fall, Levi gets a new room.  Oops, didn't mean to be so terribly inconsistent.

October 2010 - Levi comes home, gets his first room


September 2011 - We move to Manheim apartment, Levi gets his second room




October 2012 - We move to Manheim townhouse, Levi gets his third room


August 2013 - On the day of his third birthday, I put away his crib, as he requested to sleep in the blue room with the twin sized bed (formerly the guest room), Levi gets his fourth room.


When I look back on each room - I am definitely cringing at some of the cramming of the furniture... That being said, without the rocking chair and crib, this last inception of Levi's sleeping quarters is my favorite.



I really really like the fact that he can get out all his toys and have room to play at the foot of his bed and it in no way interferes with the walking path of bed to door.

The same actually goes for matchbox cars, too.
Now, if I could just figure out what to do with all the stuffed animals (that don't really get played with very often anyway...




Bedroom Update - The "After"

To recap - I had a small room, I got an incredible offer from Kimberly Musser Design Consulting, she sent me a design board, and now I have some "after" pictures.  When I say "after," I use that term sooooo incredibly loosely.

For example, I still have a duvet cover that is 80% finished that I think is going to MAKE the room.


Also, I have a myriad of cables that could be more successfully hidden, but if you can look past it, so can I.  But seriously, we only have ONE outlet in the entire room.  


After seeing the design plan from Kimberly Musser Design Consulting, I made myself a mental list of things I could do in our room without spending ANY money!  
** A completely free makeover was only made possible by the fact that I already had a ton of stuff because we lived in a house twice the size of this one, and I have an entire bin of unused curtains in my basement.

Room to do list (thanks, Kim!)
- move the large armoire to the otherside of the room, switching places with the nightstand
- hang curtains - high, wide and to the floor
BEFORE

AFTER - armoire moved, curtains hung

AFTER - armoire moved, curtains hung
- move the large shelf holding Herb's clothes to the the other side of the room, put it on it's side
- hang shoe cabinets under TV
- hang stuff on the walls that I love

BEFORE - two TVs, tall shelf in corner
AFTER - one TV,  moved shoe cabinet, high curtains, wall stuff

AFTER - low and long clothing storage with stuff on walls
I don't LOVE this wall, but it's a big improvement!  And Herb likes that he has a shelf to display things from his grandfathers (pocket watch, Winross trucks).  Also, I literally picked up the new, lower shelf up on the side of the road.   

This is certainly not my "dream room" at this point (see my pinterest board "DREAM HOUSE"), and honestly, in this house, I don't think it ever will be.  But GOSH, I like it so much better.  The tall curtains lighten it up and break up the beige-awfulness.  The armoire in the far corner of the room is working great for clothing storage, too!  In fact, I cleared out one drawer to use as a make-shift nightstand since there wasn't room for one otherwise.

AFTER - night stand drawer

Another minor tweak was to the ceiling fan.  I traded the white globe out for a drum shade.


This little vignette was based on one of my favorite pins.  And of course, it was all stuff I already had!  The wheat/sticks are from my neighbors back yard.  I kind of love them.

AFTER - pretty happy things to see when I wake up
As for the color palette, right now I'm completely drawn to keeping things neutral.  Maybe once my white bedding is finished I'll be reaching for the greens and yellows like Kim recommended, but for now I think my granny-made quilt is stealing the color show, so I'll let her have her moment (although she's been having her moment for 7 years...move over girly!  A new duvet is coming to town.)

All in all - working with a designer was totally inspirational.  Having a fresh set of experienced eyes on my room broke me out of the mess that was my room.  Kim has a sophisticated sense of style, and was very willing to work with my non-existent budget.   I would definitely recommend her work!  It's amazing how someone can "re-do" a room without ever seeing it in person.  What a fun process!  Thanks Kim!

If you're interested in working with Kimberly Musser Design Consulting, pop on over to her facebook page and become a fan!