Tuesday, January 26, 2010


so.  gertie.

the story of how gertrude joined our family starts maybe six or eight months ago when josh and i realized we were having some big problems with our satellite service.  no, no, directv didn't do us wrong.  in fact, we really liked directv.  on the contrary, the problem was with us and how much we really, really, really liked directv.   

our evenings became a race to get the kids down in time to watch our favorite shows.  and as if we weren't too into television as it was, for the low, low price of just $4.99 a month, we were able to add DVR that let us actually record those same shows (plus the ones we hadn't been able to catch during other times of the day) to watch at our leisure throughout the week. 

we were hooked.

before long, we were watching a slew of talented idols sing their way into our living room, we were cheering overweight contestants as they tried to survive bob and jillian's last chance workout, and we were sucked into the fictitious lives of characters across a variety of medical dramas. 

now don't get me wrong.  do we think that television is inherently bad and we should all just do away with it?  not a bit.  what we do think, though, is that as a couple we were spending way too much time sprawled out on the couch with a bucket of ice cream watching "the biggest loser" contestants burn 5,412 calories a show (the irony of that is not lost on me).  we got to the point where we needed to focus both the time and money we had been spending on our satellite service in another direction.

so we bit the bullet and canceled the whole shebang.  no satellite, no cable -- nothing. 

and you know what?  we actually really enjoyed it (that is, after we got past those first few awkward nights where we just sat staring at each other with ice cream on our bellies and remotes in our hands).   eventually, though, we realized that it would be kind of nice to actually have a channel or two in case we wanted to watch the news, so josh did some research and came up with this little gem.  meet gertrude...

she stands about three feet tall and has appendages cut from copper wire that are all strategically and precisely placed with washers and screws along a scrap piece of wood from our garage.  she's cute, huh?

in his research, josh found a video on youtube that gave instructions on building your own deluxe antenna to pick up local TV stations.  and in case you're asking the same question i posed to josh when he first presented this harebrained idea to me, yes, it's perfectly legal.  that's right, my friends, depending on the weather, we pick up anywhere from 8-16 channels for free (never mind that most of those channels run 24-hour high school football or really bad music programs).  it doesn't really matter anyway, though, because as long as we can watch our designated one-hour of television a week*, we've got all we need. 

*josh just wasn't ready to part with jack bauer.

so there you have it.  you've officially been introduced to our little gal, gertie.

maybe one day i'll tell you about sally and rubbie.  (some of you in the inner circle know just what i'm talking about.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

our day in 100 words or less

woke up.  read bible.  made muffins.  got kids up.  ate muffins with kids.  cleaned up muffin droppings.  finished schoolwork (jack has decided to join us for kindergarten lately).

ate lunch.  caught abby filling the watering can and getting ready "to go outside and garden". 

updated photography blog with a sneak peek.  about to make dinner and get ready for a date with gertrude.

don't know about gertrude?  check back tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

family worship (aka family circus)

ever since we've had little ones, we've tried to teach them the truths of god's word and pray with them each day, but as part of the radical experiment at church, we've been challenged to kick our efforts up a few notches in our family worship time.  first of all, we're doing a chronological read-through and study of the entire bible, and each week we work on memorizing scripture and worshiping through songs that tie in with that week's readings.  without a doubt, the new format of our family worship has become the sweetest time of our day.

but sometimes, it's the funniest.

take, for example, the night that our song had a fantastic guitar part that the kids couldn't help but join in on (never mind that they didn't have any guitars upstairs).

or how about the time that abby wanted to lead worship, but we were fresh out of microphones?

better yet, there's the time that we were memorizing genesis 1:27 (which, for the record, is pretty wordy for preschoolers) and jack learned about how god created them "fale and memale".   but hey, he can recite the whole verse now!

don't be fooled into thinking that isabel's not an active participant each night.  on the contrary, i would dare say she's the most active participant...


she's a charismatic one, that girl.

there's just not much more precious to my heart than hearing abby earnestly pray for a family member or friend she knows who's walking through a hard place right now.  or hearing jack pray for our "baby in affguh" to join our family soon.  it makes me teary-eyed to join with our little ones as they sing "hallelujah" at the top of their lungs, and holding isabel as she said her first prayer was perfect beyond words.  (in case you're wondering, her prayer went like this: "gahd -- welkum abbeee, jack, daddeee.  amen!"  welkum is "you're welcome", which she's apparently confusing with "thank you".)

and yes, i got left off her list.

if we ever get another video camera, i'll do my best to load some video from our family worship time.  you won't be disappointed.  :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


nothing's wrong.  everyone is healthy.  josh adores his job.  i've actually managed to work some during this super-slow time of a photographer's year.  all is well.

but i just haven't felt much like chatting it up here on our little corner of cyberspace lately.  i'm dealing with some things personally that have had me a little blue.  add to that the events that are occurring right now in haiti (which greatly diminish any piddly issue i may be facing), and i just haven't felt very chipper.  last week, as i sat at my computer and watched the events unfold throughout those first few hours, in all honesty, what i saw seemed very abstract and surreal to me.  and i felt disconnected.  i really struggle with things that seem so big -- so overwhelming -- and i tend to freeze in the recognition of my inadequacy to handle something so huge.

but over the past few years, god has taught me something really neat.  when you pull back the veil of supposed reality, i believe the "recognition of my inadequacy" has actually been satan's lie of my inadequacy.   i believe that he would love nothing more than to paralyze the church with thoughts of "what good can one person really do?" or "i don't have much to offer" -- or even worse, an apathetic view that's birthed from feeling disconnected.

a quick glance in my bible's concordance highlighted over 100 verses directly related to the poor, the destitute, and those who've been orphaned.  there's no denying what god's stance is on those who are hurting, and he lovingly commands his children to minister to those in need.  so as a christian, i have a tremendous responsibility to live out the heart of god.  the whole world isn't mine to save.  all of haiti isn't mine to heal.  and the full responsibility of feeding the children of africa isn't squarely on my shoulders. 

but action isn't up for debate.

our efforts might feel negligible in the sea of needs we see everyday, but here's a truth i pray i never let go of: the gifts of one person here make all the difference in the world to one person there.  haiti, uganda, ethiopia, or the hurting neighbor across the street -- lord, make us people of action.

and you know what?  i've found that the cure for "feeling disconnected" is to connect.  yes, i know that sounds hokey (even lame, perhaps), but it's been wonderfully true in my life.  there was a time years ago when the mention of children in africa with real needs and real hurts stirred little more in me than a fleeting moment of sorrow -- maybe a pouty face or two.  but i began praying for god to "break my heart for what breaks his", and our family started to act intentionally.  god graciously answered our prayers, and he guided us toward a path that has radically changed our lives.

your ministry may not be the same as ours.  god may use your gifts in completely different ways than he's used ours.  but as his children, he has gifted each of us, and he longs for us to act and connect. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

sunny saturdays

like i mentioned (or sang, rather) here and here, we kicked off the new year with a bit of a resounding flop.  it's never fun when one of the little ones is sick, and it's surely no fun when we're all infected with yuckiness of some sort or another.  but despite "germ fest 2010", we've certainly squeezed in some fun as well.  take last saturday, for example.  for christmas, my parents had given us -- and bethany and bailey -- tickets to see the trans-siberian orchestra at the bjcc.  we had seen them a couple of times before and absolutely loved the show, so we were thrilled to get to see them again this year; however, the day before the show, jack and i morphed into those little known superheroes, "mr. exploding ear" and "potty hugger", so we were working on contingency plans to give the tickets to another couple.  thankfully, the drama slowed down enough, though, that we decided we could carry on with the original game plan.  my parents graciously drove down to stay with the kids (and to cuddle with the little guy), and i mustered up the energy to wash the appearance of green off my face.  i put on just enough mascara to prove that i actually had eyes, and we set off.

not knowing how invaluable it would prove to be, my dad had given us a parking pass so that we were able to park just outside the main entrance to the concert hall where the performance was being held.  i'm pretty sure josh would have had to throw me over his shoulder and carry me in like a bag of potatoes had we not had rock-star parking.  we found our seats (on the floor--thanks daddy!), met up with bethany and bailey and sat back to enjoy an amazing show of lights, music, and singing.

and then josh played air-drums the entire way home after it was over. 

now fast-forward a week to isabel's birthday.  with the preceding weeks of illness we had had, her big day kind of snuck up on me.  (ok, who am i kidding?  i always have a hard time getting on top of birthdays in the first few days of a new month.  lori, jim, jaci, and grandma...i'm so sorry!)  but thankfully, we had made the decision months ago to seriously scale back birthdays around here.  it's not that we've ever had any kind of fancy soiree for our kiddos, but years ago, we kind of fell into this pattern of inviting lots of friends and family to each child's themed party.  and by the nature of 40 hungry people in the overly-decorated house, the parties got expensive.

then our adoption agency shared with us that we will likely never know our new baby's actual birthdate because in ethiopia, simply surviving and having something to feed a newborn far outweighs doing anything special to document the day of that child's birth.   so in light of how god had moved in our hearts for the little ones of africa, we gave up the "bigness" of parties in the way they had once been in favor of small, extremely inexpensive, immediate family gatherings.

and for us, it's perfect that way.  no stress, no running around town gathering decorations, and a grand total of $20 spent at publix to provide a few munchies for the fam.  and it leaves room in our budget to spend money where it really matters.  what's not to love?!?

as much as i would like to take credit for this darling creation, i had nothing to do with it.  the cake is from this hole-in-the-wall bakery in gadsden that has done cakes for my family for over a decade now for everything from weddings to babies.

and josh's mom drives all the way from marietta just to get the corner piece!  (izzy apparently likes it, too.)

isabel was surrounded by family who love her on her special day.  josh's sister, rebekah, even tossed ayda in the car and came up from florida!

if only izzy could figure out how to blow out candles, it would have been the perfect day (although she did break into a spontaneous verse of happy birthday for herself when she saw the cake).  jack offered his year-older, more experienced candle-blowing services, but abby, ummmm, "discouraged" him.

finally, though, with a little roundtable help, the flames were out, and it was time to cut the cake.

and that's when josh's mom started doing her happy dance while drool ran down her chin.  :-)

Friday, January 8, 2010

tootles is two

when jack was about six months old, i learned about a little secret.  and it was told to me by the two pink lines that showed up on the pregnancy test i had just taken.  usually, i'm totally into fun and creative ways of announcing the coming of a new baby, but i was so taken aback that i just picked up the phone, dialed josh's number, and blurted out, "i'm pregnant!"

there was nothing but silence on the other end.

"josh?" i said.

he replied, "yeah, i'm here.  wow!"

it wasn't that we weren't excited.  we were just, umm, surprised.  way surprised.  i mean, my bed at the hospital was probably still warm from being there with jack.  but after the shock of that day's completely unexpected main event wore off, the elation of god's new creation took over, and we were ecstatic!  in following with my other pregnancies, i looked forward to feeling good, having an excuse to indulge a few cravings, and getting plenty of tummy attention (i'm one of those women who actually enjoys belly rubs from strangers at the mall).

and it actually went that way for a while...

then the restless legs and insomnia kicked in.  i had never struggled with more than a passing queasiness with my other babies, and being pregnant was generally a pretty fun time for me.  but i don't do well with little sleep, and i certainly don't do well with multiple nights on end of zero sleep.


there are no words to describe the misery of those weeks.  i've had women say, "oh yeah, i had a hard time sleeping, too.  my belly was so big, and i just couldn't get comfortable."  oh ladies, you have no idea.  i can vividly remember hours on end of being curled up on my bathroom floor begging god to make me sleep (or even keel over...at that point, i didn't really care).  restless legs is an actual disorder (who knew?!?) that can appear without warning during pregnancy, and in my family, a long line of women before me have dealt with the condition. 

i won't bore you with the rest of the details, but between daytime catnaps, incredible friends who took my kids some during the day to let me rest, and countless calls to my mom for restless leg advice, i survived, and i looked forward to a lightning fast delivery (after all, i only pushed for 11 minutes with jack, so i just knew i was in store for a four-minuter with my third baby).

i showed up for my 36-week checkup at my OB's office, and when he asked how i was doing that day, i told him it felt like i was having some contractions.  one thing led to another, and i ended up down in L&D with some seriously rapid progress.  whoo-hoo -- i was well on my way to the easy delivery i had dreamt of!!

you know what they say about third babies, though...

what should have been a 2pm on january 7 birth ended up being a 12:39am on january 8 delivery.  but everyone was healthy, so i hardly have anything to complain about.  after all, i got this out of the whole deal...

and to add to that, as soon as our munchkin was here, the restless legs were gone.  and i slept.  all day.

it doesn't get much better than that.

so two years ago today, isabel mary lewis joined our family, and we've thanked god every day since then for entrusting her to our care for our time here on earth.

 this morning, the big two and i stormed her room with a booming rendition of happy birthday.  not sure what she thought about it...

but i do know she perked up quite a bit when i told her she had birthday muffins waiting for her downstairs...

she ate, of course, off of the red plate as we all serenaded her with a second verse of happy birthday.

oh, and that little worry about having the little ones all so close together?  i think it's worked out pretty well...

man, we all love this precious little girl!!

go here to see the rest of the photos from our impromptu session.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

god's voice in the waiting

the expectation of a coming child is such an amazing, yet sometimes anxious, time. with each of our first four children (we lost our second baby), those first few weeks and months were a continuous tango of excitement and anxiety as i struggled to believe in the reality of something within me that i could neither see nor touch. everything started to change, though, as i could feel the flutters of tiny kicking feet or the familiarity of daily baby hiccups.

there's something about feeling my baby that assures me she's there. she's ok. she's coming.

we're expecting a coming child now. but this time it's totally different. first of all, we've been working toward getting him here for 14 months already (which feels like a hugely long time to be "pregnant"), but the biggest difference i'm struggling with right now is the lack of tangibility. i can't see him. i certainly can't feel him or touch him. and in many ways, it seems like we're permanently stuck in the waiting.

and there's something about not feeling my baby that worries me that he's not there. he's not ok. he's not coming.

now don't get me wrong. i know this will all happen, but my imperfect nature continually stirs me toward impatience. when we originally submitted our paperwork to adopt from ethiopia, our agency (CWA) told us that the timelines were trending a little longer but that we could hopefully expect to have our referral by christmas. so as the week before christmas went by and i knew our agency would be closing soon for the holidays, i got more and more anxious to hear something. and in all honesty, i got a little frustrated that we were stuck in this seemingly never-ending place of waiting.

god, you opened our eyes to the needs of this country, and you led us down the pathway to our baby. why is this taking so long?!?

then i got a package in the mail. i looked at the return address label and saw that it was from CWA. i knew better than to think it was anything directly related to our little guy, but i still ripped the envelope open excitedly. and inside, i found what i've clung to since that day. the first thing i pulled out was a letter from our agency's ethiopia team that said:

"enclosed are several gifts, hand carried back by our staff especially for you from recent trips to ethiopia, because we know the waiting is long and the journey hard. 'but these things i plan won't happen right away. slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. if it seems slow, be patient! for it will surely take place. it will not be late by a single day.' habakkuk 2:3"

now habakkuk has never really been my go-to book of the bible, but no better words could have been spoken to me in that moment. in reading the book since then, i've seen that it's an account of habakkuk (a prophet) as he's wrestling with god over god's ways and timing. hmmm, sound like anyone we know? the passage above is the lord's gentle response to habakkuk's doubts.

the package also had several items that were handmade in ethiopia, and for the first time, as i stood and held them in my hands, i felt like i was close to our little one. holding a wrap in my hands, in my kitchen, that was made by women where he is right this moment finally made the atlantic ocean not seem so big after all.

it was kind of like feeling those little baby kicks for the first time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

january 2

make sure to sing the song for january 1 before this one.

(sung to the tune of "we three kings")

verse 1:
we're the members of five lewis crew.
bearing illness, our travels accrued.
to the trash can, to the potty, the
pharmacy drive-thru.


throw up here and throw up there.
bits of throw up everywhere.
think it's over? don't be foolish.
that was day one of the year.

verse 2:
jack dug in his ear a bit.
didn't know what to think of it.
then he cried and then he screamed
"DADDY or MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


is it infected? is it a whack?
i don't know what's wrong with jack.
fever's climbing, volume's rising,
eardrum is turning black.

verse 3:
called the nurse to ask what to do.
she said, "get in your van that is blue."
drove to children's, got in quickly.
they'll know just what to do!


now the fun starts to begin.
they did all but mangle him.
poking, prodding, screaming, crying,
almost did him in.

verse 4:
come to learn his eardrum is bad.
might explain what made him so sad.
doc said it might rupture soon, it's
blown up just like a balloon.


antibiotics, numbing drops,
anything just to make it stop.
can we start this year again?
the first days have been a flop!!

it's a sing-a-long

(sung to the tune of "the 12 days of christmas")

in the first hour of friday, the new year gave to me a weird feeling in my tummy.

in the second hour of friday, the new year gave to me fireworks that won't stop -- and a weird feeling in my tummy.

in the third hour of friday, the new year gave to me volcano vomiting from the weird feeling in my tummy.

in the fourth hour of friday, the new year gave to me nasty i won't share from the violence in my tummy.

in the fifth hour of friday, the new year gave to me kids shouting "MOMMY!!" -- from the weird feeling in their tummies.

in the sixth hour of friday, the new year gave to me three busy potties from the weird feeling in our tummies.

in the seventh hour of friday, the new year gave to me the break of a new day -- but still weird feelings in our tummies.

in the eighth hour of friday, the new year gave to me 13 filthy sheets and a whole host of laundry.

in the ninth hour of friday, the new year gave to me a bug of a new kind as it moved down from my tummy.

in the tenth hour of friday, the new year gave to me pretty perky kids but a mom with a rotten tummy.

in the eleventh hour of friday, the new year gave to me a super-duper hubs who allowed my bed to comfort me.

in the twelfth hour of friday, the new year gave to me a start on my new diet from THE WEIRD FEELING IN MY TUMMY!!

(stay tuned for the rest. it's so not over.)