Monday, July 27, 2009

Surrounded by Babies

I have about 60 friends who either have had or will have a 2009 baby. SIXTY! There were a bunch born in Feb/March and right now seems to be next big batch. While overall I have dealt quite well with the loss of our little boy, I have to admit that I feel a lot of sorrow when faced with the new arrivals of many of my friends. I am SO happy for each of them, because each of these babies (and some in particular) are absolute answers to prayer. But seeing the pictures of the tiny newborns and the special glow on the faces of each of my friends are they hold their precious new child...well, it hurts. That was one of the hardest moments for me with the loss of our first baby. My sister in law delivered her first child 10 days after ours was due and when I should have looked at their pictures with awe and joy, instead I wept and re-grieved the loss of what would have been. The pain is not so sharp now as it was then. Then it was a pain that was hard to get beyond. Now it is a sorrow that fills my heart with longing.

Through all of this, Andrew has continued to be my special gift and a child who brings me so much joy. Even though he has shown us recently that he is strong willed and has a temper behind all those smiles and giggles, he loves and needs his mama. He is a cuddler and if I am sitting on the floor, he'll come be by me and lay all over me just for the snuggles and back rubs. He loves to be loved. God knew I would need this child...this hope.

My hope and foundation are in Christ. He gives and He takes away. He opens the womb and He closes it. He creates life and chooses when to end it. And He has already blessed me immeasurably with the three boys that we have. If I am never able to bear another child, it will be okay because He will sustain me and He will make it enough. Our hearts are open to adopting a child...and maybe one day that is how God will finish filling our home. I don't know. But I do know that I will never be able to approach pregnancy the same way again. I will never again be able to see a positive test and rejoice that in 8 months our home will be welcoming a beautiful new child. Because for me, pregnancy is now a game of chance whose outcome has already been decided by God. A waiting game in which only time will reveal whether our arms will once again be filled with a bundle of joy and love, or whether our hearts will once again be filled with sorrow and loss.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baby Happenings

First let me say how touched I was by the outpouring of love and support we received last month when we found out we'd lost the baby. The messages, meals and prayers were a God-send and we appreciate each one of them.

A month later (tomorrow), I am doing fine. I seem to have emotionally recovered from the loss (although past experience has taught me the grief could surge up at any time, so who knows), and life is back to "normal". It's almost like the whole thing never happened. Sort of.

Anyway, as you may recall, I requested testing be done on the baby to see if any problems showed up and to find out the gender of the baby. You may recall my theory that all the babies I was losing were girls. So, this morning I was finally able to receive the results. The chromosomal analysis showed nothing wrong with the baby. And that it was a BOY. So, my theory is out the window. Which is good and bad. Good in that maybe I will actually be able to have a blood-daughter one day. Bad because it means we are no closer to knowing why this baby didn't make it. If you think of us, pray that we will have wisdom going forward and that God will bless us in His timing with the next child He has for us...and that I, in particular, will have peace in the meantime.

Date Weekend

As all you parents of young children know, dates without the kids are wonderful...and hard to come by, unless you want to pay someone $50 to watch them for the night. The cost of a babysitter gets a little prohibitive! We are blessed to have parents/in-laws who really love to be with our children and bless us by periodically watching them for us. This past weekend was one such time. Thursday afternoon I drove the boys up to Frederick, MD and met my in-laws (it's about the 1/2 point to their place), then I headed home in peace and quiet! That night Philip and I attended the Tony Bennett concert at Wolf Trap. We last saw him perform 7 years ago...the summer we were engaged. It was such a fun time and Tony Bennett is the consumate performer. Just delightful! Whenever we go to Wolf Trap, we always buy lawn tickets. This means we can pack dinner and a blanket and enjoy the music under the stars.

The folllowing day, we headed out to Winchester (after spending a while in the garden detaching the butternut squash from all the plants it's trying to take out!). We went to the State Arboretum of Virginia. Not a super exciting place, but quiet and a nice place for a picnic, which is what we were looking for. After lunch we wandered around and located the grove of "Magnificent Magnolias", as they were so deemed by the brochure. Personally, I think the ones in my parents' front yard are just as nice, but since we were there, we took a picture. :)

We also got these fun shots:

I was doing this on purpose. We were having the worst time getting a good picture, so you know...make it interesting. Of course, it does kind of resemble the one below taken back in 2002. I think that was the first time Philip had kissed my cheek...doesn't look well received. :)

Then we moved to another spot where the lighting was better and got this keeper. One of my alltime favorite pics of us. See now, don't you think with eyes that color, ONE of our kiddos could wind up with blue eyes?? Please? We'll keep trying, I guess. :)

That night we went to a very exciting baseball game between the Winchester Royals and the Rockbridge Rapids. And amazingly, there wasn't a sinlge error the whole game. Hmm...could have fooled us...but what do we know? :) They are part of a summer collegiate league. Wasn't the greatest baseball I ever saw, but it was fun and the first game we'd been to in a LONG time. And bonus...after the game, was a fireworks show! Yeay! So fun. For a small town, they put on a really nice show. And do you notice I am wearing long JULY??? Yeah. Gotta love the wacko weather we're having this year. Although, I suppose it was better than roasting to a nice red color to match the patriotism of the day. :) Notice, also, that I am wearing the same jacket in the picture from 2002. I am happy to report, though, that I no longer own those bad "mom-jeans" jeans. :) LOL.

Saturday we drove up to PA to reunite with the boys. Andrew looks like he survived just fine without us, doesn't he?

Thanks again Mom and Dad!!

A New Addition

Surprise! No, I am not pregnant, but our household has grown by one and it's not an animal. It's a full-grown girl. :) She is a Future Leader through McLean Bible Church and will basically be working as an intern with one of the ministries for the next year. The church always provides free housing through members and this year Philip and I felt called to open up our home. So, at the end of June, Morgan G moved into our basement. We have hardly seen her yet as they have been kept extremely busy with training, we were gone for the second half of last week (and are leaving for 10 days on Friday!), but we're hoping that she will truly become a special part of our family.

School Has Begun

As most of you probably know, we are (planning on) homeschooling the boys. The law in Virginia is that children start school the year that they are 5 by September 30. Caleb "missed" the cut-off last year, turning 5 in November. This was fine with me as it gave me a year to really figure out what to do for school, and for Joshua to get older. And since Caleb was already reading, he was learning plenty on his own without "school." We are planning (at least for the foreseeable future) to use the Sonlight Curriculum, which is literature-based. We love to read books aloud anyway, so this curriculum is a perfect fit for us. We are adding language arts, math, Bible and Science to the read-aloud history/geography books. I ordered the "Core" for 4/5 year olds last year and we read through it over the course of the year. This year we are using the Sonlight "K" level, which is for kids between about 5 and 7. Joshua is a little on the young side, so I am not pushing his participation (since he doesn't need to be schooled until next year), but he is usually around for most of what Caleb and I do together. I know he is absorbing things because frequently he yells out the answers to questions before Caleb does. :) I want him to participate as much as possible because the plan is to keep the older boys on the same core since they are so close in age.

Anyway, all this was to say that a few weeks ago we observed we were having more than usual behavior problems with Caleb and that it seemed that he was bored. Even though the state of Virginia doesn't require homeschoolers to have school for a specific number of days, we are going to aim for 180 since that is the number that most public schools do. I figured we might as well get started in June, instead of waiting until September. And so, yesterday was our 15th day of school. Caleb is really enjoying it. Once we get started each day, he keeps pushing to keep going. I am loving watching him learn and use his mind.

This picture is from the other day. I had to order a bunch of books to complete what we needed for Core K, and the remainder of the science books arrived last week. Since we had seen thousands of tadpoles in the pond near our beach townhouse last month, I suggested to Caleb that he might wish to read the book "Tadpoles and Frogs" (in which we learned that some mama frogs grow the babies in their tummies and then the frogs hop out! Sounds like a good idea to me. :) ). The below is what happened. Even the littlest ears got in on the listening. :) I love homeschooling! :)

Beach Trip 2009!

Before we lost the baby, I was planning to log about our great trip to Ocean City, MD which had happened just the week prior. We hadn't been to the beach in almost two years and the boys were SO disappointed that we hadn't gone last year, so we knew we needed to make it happen. Fortunately we blessed with parents/in-laws that really enjoy spending time with us and our children, so Philip's parents joined us for the week. God blessed us with an amazing townhouse to rent which was just a block off the bay and a 3 minute drive to the ocean. It was the perfect location! We arrived on Sunday afternoon and by Sunday evening the boys had their toes in the water. The weather this year has been really strange, and this week at the beach was no exception. It was a little cool and we had a few days of rain, but we had such a great time!

Caleb's highlights were jumping the waves and building sandcastles.

Joshua enjoyed running in and out of the water and smashing the sandcastles. :)

Andrew really didn't like anything about the beach, except being outside. He didn't like the sand (wrong texture!). He didn't like the water (too cold!). Oh well. Maybe next year.

One of the rainy days, my in-laws took the older boys to Assateague Island, which is only about 30 minutes from Ocean City. They had a great time and saw lots of the wild ponies. We all went back on our way out of town. It was amazing to see that that day Assateague Island was it's own weather microcosism. It was sunny and warm on the mainland, but as soon as we crossed over the bridge and went out onto the beach, it was grey, foggy, windy and chilly! This didn't deter the boys from having a blast. They were instructed they could get their feet wet, but not to get wet above the knees. You can imagine how successful they were in following directions. Yeah...totally soaked by the time they were done. Oh well. You're only young once. :)

Some of the pretty ponies:

Here's the beautiful sunset from the first night. We could watch the sunset over the water from the front balcony of the townhouse, although this was taken down by the bay.

Proof that I was there. :)