Monday, August 1, 2016

Dear Summer

Dear Summer,

You have been kinda awkward this year.   Maybe it's because we are living all on top of each other in a small space, and it's like a thousand degrees outside so we don't dare go out there unless we have to or until the sun starts to go down.  Maybe it's because we have gone through a million life changes in the past seven months, and things don't appear to be settling down anytime soon.  (I mean, honestly...chances are they never will with this crew, but still.)  Maybe it's because we didn't make it to the beach as a family this year.  Maybe it's because my husband has been gone a lot working on our house and is too exhausted to do anything when he gets home.  Maybe it's because I've battled for months with the whole school keep homeschooling or not to homeschool?  That has been the question.  It was officially answered only three days ago, and in less than 48 hours everyone but Hai-Leigh will be going to school in a new district. Can I get an amen?!!!  I mean, last year was awesome, and perfect for where we were in life, and I am not saying that we will never homeschool again but for right now everyone is excited and at peace with this decision.  This Momma is not going to know what to do with herself.  Maybe I will actually be able to get things done.  And while I am excited, I am also extremely nervous, because this is also the first year (since being in public school) that Deacon will be placed in a regular classroom for the majority of the time.  I'm just gonna breathe in, breathe out, pray, let go, and let God handle it.  

Anyway, I can't put my finger on why, but the point is, you've been weird.  And if I'm being honest, you have never really been my favorite season anyway, but here is why I still appreciate you...

You started with the most unexpected, amazing, relaxing trip ever to Mexico where we stayed at the Mia Reef resort.  It was a ferry ride away from Cancun and located on the tip of an island called Isla Mujeres.  The resort sat on an island itself and was surrounded by crystal clear waters and beautiful rocks.  It was the perfect escape for us, but would be great for families too, because it was low-key.  One of my favorite days was when we rented a golf cart and drove all the way around the island.  The views were breathtaking, and all of the bright colors made my heart so happy!

You were also kicked off with one of my favorites...berry picking.  The picking experience itself was quite miserable this year, but as usual all hard efforts were redeemed with the lemon-berry popsicles and homemade cobbler.

And then there was the family reunion at Lake Catherine in Arkansas.  All I wanted to do while we were there was take a nice little family hike to the waterfalls.  After picking our double stroller up above our heads and carrying two sleeping children over three bridges, we realized that it was not going to happen.  We ended up taking the alternative route and arrived by boat.  It ended up being totally worth the madness.  Plus, I got the added bonus of taking the hike back with the big boys.

This was also the place where we got to celebrate my sweet boy turning 11.  Man, that is so hard to believe! And let's not even talk about the fact that he's starting Middle School.  Hold me.

It is evident that we had our moments.

And while those moments were undeniably special,  I think it's time for you to go.  No offense, but I am ready to trade the popsicles and kiddie pools in for all things pumpkin spice and bonfires.  To put up the flip flops and dreaded swimsuits and bust out the boots and sweatshirts.   I long for cooler temperatures and moments of silence.  Not to mention, every day that passes puts me one step closer to being in a house again.  Though they will consist of their own kind of crazy, I look forward to the next two seasons. I hate to tell you, but they have always been my favorite.  I fully intend to soak them in, along with the one on one time that me and Little Sis are about to have.  I do promise to have more love for you next year.  Til then, Peace out. Adios. Holler at ya!


 One Sweaty, Exhausted Momma

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Letter to My Birthday Girl

Dear Hai-Leigh,

Today is a special day.  One filled with many emotions.  It's the day you were born.  Last night, as I tucked you in and stroked your hair, I could not help but think of your birth mother.   My guess is she's probably thinking of you too.  I don't know her story or anything about her.  I don't know if she wasn't allowed to raise you, couldn't afford the care you would need, or if she felt pressured to let you go because she knew people in her culture would look down upon the very large birthmark/mole that covers a large portion of your back and there you would have a very hard time with it when you got older. (We call it a beauty mark.  And here, we work hard to celebrate differences, hoping you always believe what makes you different is what makes you beautiful.)  But what I do know is this...she loved you.  She loved you enough to carry you in her tummy for at least seven months or more.  She loved you so much that one year ago today, she laid your little two-pound body in a special place where she knew you would quickly be found.  She had to have bundled you up tight, because the temperature there is in the mid-30's this time of year.   I like to imagine that she even watched from afar to make sure you were quickly retrieved.  She loved you enough to give you life.  And for that, I will forever be grateful to her.  My heart also hurts for her knowing how difficult that must have been.  I admire her strength.  I admire yours.  That must be where you get it from.

Being so tiny and fragile,  I imagine you had to be quite the fighter in order to survive.   Though I don't know all of them,  I will always appreciate all of the wonderful people who dedicated their time to nursing you to good health and raising you throughout those first eleven months of your life.  It is evident that you were well loved and taken care of.

It has been one month since I first held you in my arms.   I began loving you long before I knew you, but that love continues to grow stronger and stronger with each passing day.

I love your little squinty-eyed, toothy grin and your sweet nature.  Your Pops calls you Smiley Hai-leigh.  I like it and think the nickname fits you perfectly. 

I love that you have a feisty side too.  I get to see it each time your littlest big brother messes with you.  Which is a lot.  He means well, but God love him, he doesn't realize how big he is compared to how tiny you are.

I love the connection you have with your other big Brother and your Sister.  It was immediate and came so naturally.  What a blessing for this Momma to witness!

Your Daddy? He's crazy in love with you too!  Each day you love him back a little more, and it makes him so happy.  You have been cared for by mostly women, so he understands that it has taken you a little bit longer to get used to him.

I personally love that you are a Momma's girl.  Although, it doesn't allow me to be very productive, I get in lots and lots of long awaited snuggle time.  I love that you cry out for me and give a sigh of relief each time you are back in my arms.  We have had to take the front of your crib off and put it up against my side of the bed, because you just want to be close to me.  In the middle of the night, I will hear you begin to whimper.  Then, I feel your little arm reach out, and as soon as your hand touches me, you get silent and go back to sleep.  I love that too.

It's funny, much like the labor of birthing your brothers and sister, I have forgotten about the pain of the process that brought you here.  The waiting. The paperwork. The fees.  The fundraising.  All of it quickly fades away and is easily forgotten.  And all that matters is that you are here, safe and sound in my arms.   I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

People say that you are so blessed to get to be a part of our family, but I see things just the opposite.  I feel extremely honored that the Lord entrusted us with you and allowed us to be your parents.  I also feel undeserving of such an incredible gift.   We needed you just as much as you needed us.  If not more.

You are a beautiful example of what can happen when we let go of our fears and hold on to faith.  You are EVERYTHING that we prayed you would be.  And more.  You fit so perfectly into our family.  It is really amazing to witness.  God is so good.  He really, really is.  He cares about all of the details of our lives.  He provided the strength and resources needed to bring you into our family.  There is no way we could have done it without Him and His people.  It is my prayer that your life and your story might one day inspire others to take that same leap of faith.

You have already brought us SO MUCH joy!  I feel so blessed to have you call me "Momma" and to get to celebrate this day with you.  I look forward to getting to know you better and celebrating many, many more years together.


Love always,