Monday, March 29, 2010

your daughter's going to need a rabies shot

this is going to be quick because i'm late for bed.

as i've added activities and projects onto my proverbial plate, i've noticed a startling trend in my daily life.  lots of photos to edit?  then don't do the laundry.  need to play catch-up on some of abby's schoolwork?  then the dishes can wait.  and it's not just the house that's been suffering.  i'm sad to admit that there have been many a day when i didn't make reading my bible or playing outside with the kids a priority.

momma needed a schedule.

i work much better within the confines of accountability and structure, so i set out to create a workable daily routine that would allow me (or force me, perhaps) to accomplish all the necessary activities of the day.  after a couple of feeble attempts at designing said schedule, though, i was confused, overwhelmed, and feeling less in control of my day than ever (due to the fact that i got even less done around here than what i had been doing because i spent all day with my nose in an excel file).

then came coffee with the girls.

several moms and i got together a couple of weeks ago to chat about mommyhood, homeschooling, and curriculum.  well lo and behold, if the topic of a family schedule didn't come up!  i gleaned lots of brilliant ideas that night, and i came home with a plan.  i worked and typed and thought and planned, and in the end, i had a schedule that i thought was ideal for our family of little people.  as i showed it to josh last night to get his input, he studied it carefully and then looked at me with love in his eyes and said, "you're really, really OCD".  he cautioned me to not get too wrapped up in the schedule but to simply allow it to be a tool that helped guide our day...not ruin it if things didn't go as planned.  i assured him that i would go with the flow, and then i went to bed confident in how perfectly smooth my day would run today as we moved down through the boxes of that fantastic little spreadsheet.


i'm too tired to go into the full detail, but after a months-long-spree of no doctor visits, i had to take jack into the pediatrician just before lunch for what we thought was a broken finger and i had to take izzy into the children's after-hours clinic just before dinner for a cat bite that left four puncture wounds in her arm.

  • jack's finger isn't broken (just severely bruised and nastyfied)
  • the receptionist was incorrect when she told me izzy would need a rabies shot (although i did have to fill in an "animal bite/rabies form" for the health department)
  • and we in no way, not even close, absolutely did not stick to the schedule today

and i'm just fine with that.

oh, and at some point in the day, this happened.  don't ask.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

now i know what a yo-yo feels like

i'm kind of in a weird place with all this adoption stuff.  as far as the world sees or knows, our family consists of a daddy, a mommy, and three little people.  but not a day goes by that i don't hurt for our littlest one in ethiopia or feel like a part of us is missing.

we have another son.  we just can't hold him.

it's odd because when you're pregnant, the baby may not have his own twig on the family tree yet, but there's no doubt that he's with you.  he's there.  and after a few months everybody around you knows he's a part of your family, and the sweet ladies in wal-mart are happy to rub your tummy to remind you of it.  i don't have that with this baby, but despite the lack of his physical presence, he's every bit a part of me as our other three were when i was expecting them.

this is so hard to explain.

i feel like i'm rambling so i'm just going to get to the update part.  a couple of weeks ago, i wrote about the discouraging news we heard about ethiopia's new requirement that both parents appear for their baby's in-country court date.  as i've told many of you, i wasn't really anxious or worried about it, because despite the fact that i had no idea how in this world we were going to swing the additional expenses that decision brought with it, i knew with complete certainty that god knew of that ruling long before it was handed down and long before he led us to adopt there. 

so yesterday i was chatting with some other moms while we waited for our girls to finish their ballet class, and one of the moms (who recently returned from adopting her daughter from china) told me that she heard about the court's decision, and she asked how it would affect us.  i casually told her the details: how we would both have to appear in court now, how our adoption budget had gotten tossed after the very unexpected changes, and how we would have to make two trips (the second to appear at the US embassy to finalize the adoption and actually bring our baby home).  but as i told her that only half of cases pass court on the first try and that we might actually have to go to ethiopia more than two times, it hit me like a ton of bricks:  allison, this may not happen.  

with all of the changes and uncertainty surrounding ethiopia's international adoption program right now (coupled with the potential for uncapped, multi-trip expenses), it felt like the baby i was holding to so tightly was slipping away, and i wrestled with that realization through tears all afternoon and evening long.

it had never occurred to me until that moment outside abby's ballet class that god's call on our lives for adoption doesn't guarantee us the blessing of a baby in the end.  

as i talked with a friend at her house this morning, i told her that i was grieving but slowly digesting the possibility that the lord may have put us on this path for another purpose.  we can already see many changes in our family because of this journey (god has graciously placed orphan ministry at the center of our hearts, and we have devoted our lives to working with pearl ministries and its partners in uganda), and those are things we thank him daily for doing in our lives.

but i just can't get past the hope that our little guy is waiting for us somewhere along this path.

the tears of yesterday turned to the joy of today, though, when i received another message from our agency tonight.  while i am trusting the lord in his sovereignty and recognizing that i can't see this journey from beginning to end as he can, i was encouraged by the news we heard:
  • good: the court president said this week that parents will only be required to attend one hearing.  if their case doesn't pass court (which can happen for reasons as small as a missing signature), they won't be required to appear a second time.
  • really, really good: as part of the healthcare bill that was passed this weekend (i'm not saying a word about that!), the adoption tax credit was amended.  what used to be a credit that did virtually nothing for us because of our particular tax situation is now a fully refundable credit that will do a tremendous amount to cover the additional travel expenses we'll incur because of the recent changes in ethiopian adoption.  
the lord has been so faithful to encourage us and provide for us just when we needed it most, and the news of today is no exception.  god is god, and god is good.

now listen, you who say, "today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. what is your life? you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. instead, you ought to say, "if it is the lord's will, we will live and do this or that."  james 4:13-15

the world's cutest baby bump

i guess you could say that hallie was my first real friend.  when i was five, we moved next door to her family in starkville, mississippi, and it was there that our families' lives became intertwined (along with that of our precious across-the-street neighbors).  and despite the fact that we moved away from starkville just a few years later, we've all remained friends across state lines ever since.

but back to hallie.  several months ago, she announced that she and her husband, jeremy, were expecting their first little one.  our portion of the old gang wasn't able to make it to starkville for her baby shower a few weeks back, so we all got our calendars out and planned a day to visit them in their now-home in huntsville (insert josh's favorite fact: jeremy is a bona fide rocket scientist with NASA.  jeremy, that makes you just about as cool as jack bauer).

we weren't there for long, but in true "old gang" form, we ate delicious food:

(izzy particularly enjoyed the cake that my mom had made.)

we took advantage of the gorgeous day by spending time playing outside:

(something tells me that my dad should have worked with izzy a little longer before he ended her frisbee lesson...)

as always, we reminisced about all of the fun times we've shared together:

we enjoyed the gifts the lord has already given us:

while we joyfully celebrated the beautiful life to come:

and last but certainly not least, i might have taken a few pictures in there as well.  this one was supposed to be of hallie and jeremy, but the little guys sat down before he could get there (at which point jeremy lovingly reminded them of this truth: "that's my baby, boys").  hee-hee!

our day with the growing family just couldn't have been any sweeter.  it's going to be such a joy to watch this amazing couple as they welcome their daughter, alice, into their lives.

the little ones pooped out on us shortly after we started driving so we had a pretty quiet ride back to birmingham with a beautiful sunset to welcome us home.

oh, and one more thing.  remember this picture from "wordless wednesday"?

yes, emma adores her daddy, but what could have possibly made her so particularly thrilled to see him in this photo?  click here to find out.  ;-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

fast forward a decade...

josh and i graduated from samford ten years ago, and we've been blessed to not only keep in touch with many of our college friends but to still share our lives regularly with several of them.  while we were in school, a few of us girls (namely me, kerry, and julie) became fast friends as we each began dating our now-husbands (who were all fraternity brothers). we did so much together like formals, step sing (you fellow SUers will appreciate that), and double dates.

josh and i even woke kerry and julie up the night he proposed to me so that we could share the exciting news with them.  (girls, as for posting a "just woke up" photo of you on the internet, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?  right???)

as the year went on, we even had the joy of each taking part in one another's weddings.

those young twenty-something newlyweds of back then have all grown up now...

...and the double-dates of old transformed last week into quite the party when jason, julie, and their two precious children were in town.  is it still considered "double-dating" if you have eight children in tow?

some of the kids hadn't even met one another before, but they played together like they had known each other all their lives.

of course, technically, these two have been friends since birth...

it probably goes without saying that i couldn't stand the thought of all of us being back together and not getting a photo of the whole under-six crowd, so to get a fun shot of everybody, we played a good old-fashioned game of "make this face".

which quickly turned into laughing:
i love these little guys...
...and i love their parents.  thank you guys for such a fun night!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

the winding road

for the last couple of months, we've been doing a chronological read-through of the bible as part of the radical experiment at church, and i've run the gamut of extremes in regards to my understanding (and sometimes enjoyment) of the scriptures i've read so far.  i've marveled at god's creation and power in the accounts contained in genesis, but i've trudged through the seemingly countless laws and regulations contained in leviticus.

and somewhere in the middle is the story of the israelites' journey to the land to which god both called and led them.

as i was rounding out the book of numbers a few nights ago, i was perplexed by the stages of israel's journey that are recorded in chapter 33.  far from the exciting and tense drama surrounding their safe deliverance through the red sea, this particular section just went on and on and on about all the places the israelites went through on their pilgrimage to the promised land.  not only was it terribly uninteresting, but i couldn't even pronounce 37 of the 40 locations listed.

but firmly believing that every word of scripture is inspired by the lord, i took a couple of minutes to dwell on moses' account of their journey as i tried to glean some sort of understanding about its purpose.  and what god put on my heart would prove to strike much closer to home than i would know a couple of short days later.

the israelites were standing at point a and the lord was calling them to point b.  the practical plan would have been for them to head on a straight path -- no detours, no delays -- toward their end goal.  but that's not how god moved them.  exodus 13:17-18 says that "god did not lead them on the road through the philistine country, though that was shorter.  ...god led the people around by the desert road toward the red sea."

really god??  the red sea? 

"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the lord.  "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  isaiah 55:8-9

as i thought back over the path that the lord chose for the israelites, i could see that he used each step in mighty ways and for a glorious purpose.  in some places, he demonstrated great power and provision for his people (as when he parted the red sea or miraculously fed them with manna and quail).  in other places, he boldly called the fickle and wandering israelites back into his direction and will.  and then in other places, he drove them to their knees in complete dependence on his mercy, love, and guidance.

every step of the journey was for the lord's glory and for his people's good.

so why am i writing all this?  we got some disheartening news from our adoption agency yesterday regarding the process for bringing our little guy home.  as of this morning, the ethiopian courts ruled that rather than being able to sign power of attorney over to the agency to appear in court on their behalf, all adoptive parents must appear in court themselves from today on.  so the single trip we had planned and worked to prepare for financially has in one ruling turned into a two-trip process with much greater cost (and possibly additional time until everything is finalized).

i started writing a post earlier today, but as i read back through some of what i had shared, i realized two things: i was writing out of a heart of whiny-ness and i had yet to pray about any of what i was now posting on the internet for any and all to read.  so i took it upstairs and spent some time talking to the lord and asking him to give me patience, wisdom, and unfailing trust in him.  slowly and steadily, this is what he showed to me...

several years ago, josh and i were standing at point a and god was calling us to point b.  we knew he had put orphans and adoption on our hearts.  the practical plan would have been for us to head on a straight path -- no detours, no delays -- toward our end goal.  but that's not how god has moved us either. what was supposed to be a nine-month timeline has stretched into a sixteen-month timeline (and counting) with more twists and turns than we could have ever imagined possible.

really god??  sixteen months?  two trips to ethiopia?

"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the lord.  "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  isaiah 55:8-9

now as i look back over the path that the lord has chosen for us, i can see many of the exact same patterns that i saw in reading about the israelites' journey out of egypt.  the lord has continually shown his power and provision for us through blessings from friends, family, our church, and our jobs -- or from unexpected events that still strike us with wonder and awe.  in other ways, he has boldly called us back into his direction and will when we have been fickle and have strayed.  and then at other times, he has driven us to our knees in complete dependence on his mercy, love, and guidance.  

that's where i found myself today.

i can't control this process.  i can't speed it up, and i can't bring our baby home faster.  but what i can do is trust in the lord's timing and ways and pray for his perfect plan to be done in our lives.

because if i know one thing, it's this: every step of this journey is for the lord's glory and for our good.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

overheard at our house today...

abby: mommy, when i grow up, i think i'm going to eat diet coke and chicken. (funny that she says that because anytime the well-meaning deli clerk at publix offers her a chicken finger, she politely says "no, thank you" while simultaneously making a semi-vomit face.)

josh: i feel like i've joined satan's army.  (on finally succumbing to the facebook craze) 

izzy's diaper: errrrrrpppbbbttfffffffff
me: oh izzy, what do you need to say, baby?
izzy: silence
meizzy, what do you say when you do that?

me: yes, is this poison control?  my littlest two just *shared a tube of toothpaste.  is that dangerous?

and since posts are always better with pictures, here are a couple of shots of josh teaching abby to play baseball on the wii that bethany and bailey let us borrow.  (might need to talk to him about the difference in a grown-up man swing and a five-year-old girl swing)

*we had just returned from the dentist, and the new toothbrushes and toothpaste were too fantastic to resist.  i had one of those moments when i realized that it was eerily quiet, so i dashed upstairs only to find jack and izzy, reeking of minty freshness, finishing off the goods.  but not to worry -- the sweet poison control lady did a couple of flouride-in-grams-to-weight-in-kilograms ratios and told me they would be fine.  she had me pump them full of calcium in whatever form i could and call it a night. 

guess i'll have to keep the colgate under lock and key from here on out.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

warm and fuzzy

read this that my sweet sister-in-law wrote.

Friday, March 5, 2010

mr. hollow legs and the poor man's playground

we've taken part in a couple of fun family activities recently that, until today, just hadn't made it to the blog.  i've had photoshop tied up with some recent sessions, but now that those are all loaded into their respective galleries, i want to toss these goodies in here while i can. 

my sweet, sweet grandmother (abigail's namesake) and almost all the rest of my mom's side of the family live in the same town (on the same street to be exact) just over an hour from here.  it's just far enough away that we don't get to visit with them as often as we'd like, but it's close enough that we're able to steal away from birmingham for a few hours when we've got a free day to head to "relative road".  i mentioned to my mom a couple of weeks ago that we might run to meme's the next day, and we were thrilled when she made her weekly trip down there a day early so that she could join us.

if you'll notice in the picture above, meme is cracking up at jack holding all the tangerines that his little arms can handle.  well, there's a story behind that giggle...

for ages now, my mom has made muffins for the kids each and every time she's seen them.  coming to birmingham for a visit?  she arrives with a bag of muffins.  meeting in trussville for a quick bite?  she's got muffins.  having us up to her and my dad's house in gadsden?  you got it -- muffins.  i'm worried for my mom's sake that it's actually gotten a bit out of control, though, because not only does she continually make those yummy goodies, but now she's taking orders.  there's currently a rotating schedule of chocolate, pumpkin, and banana muffins -- or something like that.  actually, i'm the wrong one to ask about the arrangement.  jack, on the other hand, could explain the process in great detail.

when nanny gave him the muffins for this trip, he carried them around the house like a newborn baby.  he held them, cradled them, and i'm pretty sure i heard him whisper "i love you so much" a time or two. 

then he went all cannibalistic and he ate 34 of them.

lunch was a sight to be seen with his consuming every bite on his plate in addition to half of what was on other people's plates and a good portion of what was left on the table.  seriously people, the boy can eat his whole body weight in food in one sitting. izzy did manage to rescue one cup of pudding from his feeding frenzy, but she was happy to give it a home in her belly.

the event that is known as "jack at mealtime" has far-reaching influence.  my dad even drove in from gadsden to see the spectacle.  (ok, that really had nothing to do with it.  he just couldn't stand the thought of missing out on seeing the grandbabies.)

with all that eating going on, there's got to be some balance with good exercise.  bethany and bailey come over for lunch each sunday after church with their little ones, and now that the weather is hinting at warming up a bit, the kids love to play outside.


that gets really interesting when you've got one swingset torn down (wal-mart doesn't build 'em like they used to)... swingset that has yet to be put together (that we bummed from some friends)...

...and four large trees down across the whole yard.

but do not fear, my faithful blog readers.  the crouch girls are a couple of really smart cookies when we put our heads together.  the original swingset might have been lying in a mangled heap on the other side of the yard, but the ladder and slide were as good as new.  all we needed was a little elevation.  hmmmm?  how about a tree?  i happen to know where you can find a couple of those...
the little ones each waited in line for a turn...  
...and then slid down happily on the other side.  the whole setup worked like a well-oiled machine.
bethany has some sort of weird twisty-slide adoration disorder, and she couldn't stand the idea of not taking advantage of the perfectly good twisty slide that laid just twenty feet away (never mind that it wasn't actually attached to anything).
so after some really creative maneuvering, we had a second slide up and running.  now think through the physics of this situation with me.  when the slide is screwed into a playset several feet into the air, a child would theoretically make a gentle descent downward and out of the mouth of the slide.  unfortunately, we didn't have the luxury of such elevation, so the kids had to climb up the first curve of the slide...
...and then they were kind of vomited out at the bottom. 
ahhhh, it's never dull around here.  oh, and by the way, if you're thinking that all of this old-fallen-trees-across-the-yard business doesn't sound very safe, we had the fire marshal here to inspect.

she approved us, but josh and bailey cleared the yard the next weekend just in case.  now we're the proud owners of permanent tree impressions in the grass (guess that's what happens when you leave the trees down for around three months or so).