Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy #3 Abby!!

Abby got to pick what she wanted for dinner the night of her actual birthday.  She picked chicken nuggets, fries, and mac and cheese.  Go figure.  So I made her homemade chicken nuggets and fries.  She took one bite and said, "these aren't Chick-fil-A!!"  Haha, oh, well. 

We celebrated Abby's birthday with a little party with some family and friends at our house last weekend.

When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, her only request was "PINK!!" 

The kiddos played a few rounds of musical "chairs."

And then we had a dance party, of course!

Abby and her buddy Campbell

Sweet Catherine and Elliott

Charlie got lots of love from Aunt Katie

And of course, we had to have a pinata!!

Opening lots of presents- she got so many fun things!! Thanks everyone!

 Oh, Abby, what fun you are!!  How fun it is to celebrate you!  I know this next year is going to be filled with as much fun and wonder as the last year has been!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Looking back: October

And finally, for all of our fans out there, a peek into what we have been up to lately!!

October was a FULL month for us this year.  We were living at Andy's parents for a good bit of it, moved into our new house mid-month, celebrated three birthdays, celebrated Halloween, and enjoyed school and friends in between. 

Abby's hair is finally long enough and she is finally able to sit still long enough for me to do fun things with it.  I have put her hair into braids like these several times for school.  Doesn't she look like such a big girl??

And my Charlie- look at this girl!  She is growing up so fast.  She has such a sweet disposition, she has this smile that will just make you melt.

I put a movie on while I was getting dinner started the other day.  Charlie was playing with some of her toys on the floor. Abby wanted to sit next to her, so she pulled a chair up right next to her and plopped down.  They sat like this for a good half an hour.  So cute!!

We celebrated Andy's birthday out on our screened in porch.  It was a bit chilly but it was fun to enjoy eating outside.

Abby chose to be Tinkerbell for Halloween, so I made this costume for her.  Do you see this face?? She likes to pose for me.

She had a party in her class and Charlotte and I went to hangout for the morning.  It was so fun to watch her interact with all her little buddies.  And they were all so cute!

This is Abby and her buddy Campbell.  These two have the sweetest little friendship.  They LOVE each other.  In fact, they love each other so much that they will hug each other so hard that they fall over in a heap of giggles.  I am so glad that they have each other!

Abby at her desk. LOVE love love.

We went to Hunt Club Farm to pick pumpkins the weekend before Halloween.  They have a petting zoo there and Abby really enjoyed walking around looking at all the animals.
Me and my girls

Love this face!

Look how much Abby has grown!! I love this picture of her from last year (on the bottom).  It's amazing to me how much she has changed in just a year.

My sweet little pumpkins

Getting ready for Trick-Or-Treating 

Alright, can you tell which one is Abby and which one is Charlotte??

How about in these??

We took Abby trick-or-treating along with her buddy Myles.  Isn't his costume amazing?  I love that face!!

Sweet little baby bats- Owen and Charlotte

The next day I let Abby look over her candy.  I walked out of the room for a bit to do dishes, and when I walked back in this is what I found- she had sorted out all of her candy into little piles by type.  Oh. my. goodness.  She is SO my child!

They LOVE love bath time together!!

Hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with your families!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Surprised by Joy

I can still remember perfectly every detail of those three minutes. Setting the stick on the vanity, walking away because it was going to drive me crazy standing there waiting for the answer, setting the timer for 3 minutes, checking my email, timer went off, walking back into the bathroom, looking down at the stick...

Two pink lines.


I was sure that one was a defect, so I opened a second test, and went through the same steps all over again.

Two pink lines. Again.

And then my mind literally exploded.  I was plunged into a whirlwind of emotions; Excitement, fear, happiness, anger (this was not the plan, this was two years too early!!), guilt (how can I feel anything but happiness over this?  what kind of person am I?  I clearly don't deserve this baby...), confusion (what happened to "the plan"??), fear (what if something happens to him/her?  how do I tell my boss?  Andy is going to grad-school and I was supposed to work full time and we won't have any money and what's going to happen now??), wonder (there is a BABY inside of me!).
I picked up the phone to call Andy and tell him, but the second he answered I started sobbing uncontrollably.  All I could say is "come home, NOW."  He thought someone in my family had died.  He was home in less than 10 minutes.
As soon as he walked in I told him.  And his face broke into the biggest grin I have ever seen.  You would have thought someone had just told him he won the lottery and would never have to work again! 

And we had won the lottery.  Abigail Shea made our two-some into a family 9 months later, on November 16th 2007.  And from the very beginning, she brought joy and delight into our home.  

I think the phrase that best describes the past three years of being Abby's mommy is "surprised by joy." Not that I am surprised that it has been a joy- I knew I would love being her mom and find it very fulfilling and joy-filled.  I just didn't know how much. And I didn't know the means that God would use to bring about this joy.

I think I thought it would just be so fun, and that she would just be so cute and sweet, and it would just be so great teaching her things and playing together and spending our days together, and that naturally it would all just be a joy! Part of that is true- she IS cute and sweet, and it IS great teaching and shepherding her, and I DO love playing with her and being with her. Being her mommy brings me much happiness.

But my greatest moments of joy in motherhood have been when the Lord has brought us through trials, and struggles, and suffering.

A month before Abby was due, it was discovered that Andy had a golf-ball sized tumor in his brain, pressing on his brain stem.  He needed surgery right away.  It probably wasn't cancer and was highly treatable, but there were lots of risks involved in surgery.  Lots of things that might never be the same again.  When they wheeled him away for his 9-hour long surgery, I knew that there was a chance that he might never be the same again, or worse, that something could happen during surgery and I could become a widow at age 25.  And on top of all that, I had a newborn who needed constant care.  Abby turned 1 month old in the hospital.  Lots of people said to me during and after the surgery (and even sometimes now when I tell the story), "I can't imagine how you could ever do that with a one-month old!"  But God knew.  He knew that there would be dark moments and times when I would doubt that He was in control, and good, and trustworthy.  And He knew that I would forget His faithfulness.  And so He planned Abby long before we knew about Andy's tumor, and gave her to us as a tangible reminder of His love and care for us.  She was a light in the midst of a really scary time.  Sitting in the waiting room for hours upon hours, day after day, her smiles and coos warmed us, helped us battle boredom, and reminded us to hope instead of worry.  Her presence actually helped Andy to heal- in his darkest moments, bringing her into his room would instantly lift his spirits. Suddenly, it totally made sense why He brought her to us earlier than our "plan."  He knew.  She was a daily reminder to me that God loved me deeply, was holding us and sustaining us, and that He was working good in ALL things. That's why we named her "Abigail."  It means "joy of the father," or "father in rejoicing."  She is a daily reminder to us that our Father rejoices over us with singing- of the joy that comes only from our Heavenly Father who loves to give His children good things. In the midst of this trial, He surprised me with joy.

When Abby hit about 2, I suddenly understood the "terrible" in "terrible two's."  Tantrums, tears, defiance, that "look" that says, "how DARE you say 'no' to ME!"  Who was this child?? It was a daily struggle for me to keep calm, stay patient, and to correct her gently. Shortly after Charlotte was born we hit an all-time low.  Tantrums were happening multiple times a day, my attention was divided between the two girls, and it seemed like most of my time with her was spent threatening and disciplining.  Instead of enjoying her, we were battling and struggling.  The days became all about surviving. For the first time I found myself wondering "is this it?  Is this all God has for me in motherhood? Do I really want four of these?"   It felt joyless and empty.  
And then I started to pray.  For an extra measure of patience that day.  For wisdom in how to best discipline, shepherd, teach. For more love for her in her ugliest moments.  For gentleness.  For compassion. For her to listen and obey. For a breakthrough. And the Lord started to work in my heart.  But instead of changing her, or instantly turning me into a better person, making me more patient and giving me better methods, He started to show me how my heart desperately needed to change.  How I was in desperate need of His patience, love, compassion and grace.  The more I saw her sin, the more I saw my own, and the uglier her tantrums, the more I saw the reality of the ugliness in my own heart.  The more I prayed for help, the more He showed me the depth of my need for Him, and the more He began to meet these needs for me.  Motherhood slowly began to be less about me "getting it right" and having a "perfect" day, and more about me meeting with Jesus and trusting Him to supply me with all that I needed to get through the days.  And surprisingly, the less I focused on getting the results I wanted and the more I focused on bringing her to Jesus, the better our days got.  The tantrums became less.  The moments of desperation fewer.
We still have hard days, and battles and moments of struggle.  Lots- she is my child and has my strong will! But instead of leading me to despair, they drive me to the cross.  And instead of wearing me down, they are making me grow.  As I learn to trust in Jesus more, He is making me into the mommy He has called me to be.  Most importantly, my struggles in motherhood are helping me to know Jesus in a deeper way than ever before.  In the midst of the struggles of tantrums and tears, He is surprising me with joy.

And lastly, I never knew how much joy I would have in getting to know my child. I knew it would be fun.  I knew I would love her.  But I just didn't know it would be this great.  All the little things that make Abby who she is, I love every single one of them.  How she started talking in full sentences early and will. not. stop.  How she loves to sing but she gets a lot of the words wrong and sometimes mixes songs together.  How she will sit and read all the books on her bookshelf for an hour.  How she has to put EVERYTHING in her mouth and it drives me crazy! How she asks, "are you happy, Mommy?" when she senses I am upset with her, and how much it crushes her if I am angry with her.  How she is so sensitive to our feelings.  How she follows big girls around, copying everything they do.  How big her eyes get when she asks me a question.  How she is timid in new situations with new people.  Her incredible amount of energy- she is crazy!! How loud she is.  How she laughs.  How she loves to hear stories about Jesus and to pray.  How she is so proud to be a big sister- when people come up to us in the store she stands proudly and says "this is my baby sister Charlotte!" How she tries to comfort Charlotte when she is crying.  How inquisitive she is. Oh I could go on for pages and pages.  I knew I would love her.  I just didn't know it would be this much.  In the midst of all that makes her who she is, He is surprising me with so much joy.

So, I always knew that being a parent would be a joy.  I just never knew it would happen quite this way.  

Happy Birthday my little bumblebee.  I love you more than you will ever know, and I am so proud to be your mommy.