A little farmers market joy

I hit a low last night. We got some discouraging news about the house (not the new one – the old one we can’t quite seem to get rid of), and I was struggling with not being able to both unpack and keep the house clean or even something resembling neat, not to mention the stacks of laundry piling up and the full schedule of appointments over the next several days. My insomnia is back, and it all felt like too much.

This morning, we rushed out the door for Lina’s 9 a.m. physical therapy appointment. I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things to get us through the week and returned to the therapy center to find Lina had screamed through the whole session. (She had been doing so much better about that!) We came home for lunch, and I crammed food in my mouth while popping up a dozen times to address the various needs of my kids, which included mopping up a full cup of milk dumped all over the table, chair and floor.

Normally, Lina has speech therapy on Tuesday afternoons. I discovered a couple weeks ago that a fantastic farmers market runs weekly at exactly the time we pass on our way home. The speech therapist canceled for today, but I decided to take the kids up to the farmers market, anyway. It’s a bit of a drive, and I wasn’t sure it was the right call. But within minutes of pushing the stroller onto that little field of produce stands, I felt the weight on my shoulders lift and my cloud of gloom dissipate.  The weather was incredible – low-80s, sunny, a light breeze – and the fresh air, the gorgeous piles of produce, the live John Mayer covers, the families on their picnic blankets, the couple dancing by the food truck, the throngs of children playing in the dry creek bed and swarming the playground equipment… Somehow, it was the perfect reminder of how little it matters that my house is dirty and still piled with boxes. For the cherry on top, Jon was able to meet us there for a little food truck grilled cheese before heading to a late work meeting.

Life is so messy and busy. It gets HARD, and not always with the big stuff. Sometimes, it’s a lot of everyday stuff piling up and smothering my joy. Today, the laundry and cleaning waited while I found my joy somewhere between the peaches and the purple okra.

Also, Lina totally kissed a boy. 


Guess who’s coming…for the weekend?

The tickets have been booked, so I’ll say it: Lina’s donor family is coming to visit!

It’s been in the works for quite a while, since Lina’s donor mom asked me months ago how we felt about the idea. She said she realized she really wanted to see Lina while she is still a baby (a time that is quickly fading), and their kids are old enough now to remember and really enjoy the trip – their first on an airplane. We were absolutely game to meet the people who have come to feel like extended family.

If you had told me several years ago that this is what we would be doing, I might have called you crazy. I know it probably sounds so weird to most people. This is not a common scenario (although I have met a surprising number of people who are familiar with embryo donation). The old me might have thought it would be threatening somehow to have another mom of any sort in the picture.

But the me who has lived the last three years of this experience knows that we’re just lucky to have more people in our lives who love our daughter and our family. There is no territorialism here, but a shared bond. I can’t wait for them to meet Lina. I can’t wait for our kids to play together. And yes, I admit, I am a little nervous. My inner school girl really wants them to like me!

It can admittedly be a little tricky to explain to kids who are still too young to fully understand our connection. Obviously, it’s not an issue for Lina yet. Corin knows that babies start out as tiny embryos and that Lina’s embryo came from another family, but that she grew inside mommy. He is familiar with her donor family and has seen plenty of pictures, especially of the kids. We’ve mentioned several times that they are coming to visit, and we’ll talk more about it as the visit gets closer. Lina’s donor parents have told their kids that Lina is a special kind of sister who will grow up with a different family. They felt – and I agree – that applying a false label, like “cousin,” just didn’t fit.

I think I can safely say it’s the hope of both families that our children will learn to appreciate this connection, and that they will care about each other all through their lives. At the very least, I feel it is a tremendous advantage for all of this to be in the open, freely talked about and made familiar. We have the opportunity now to get to know each other in person, a relationship built from opposite ends of a shared experience.

So, coming mid-August: The blog post where you get to meet Lina’s donor family!

I miss my cleaning lady

There are days when just getting through normal tasks – like, say, cleaning 2 1/2 baths – makes me feel as if I deserve a medal. You have not earned your parenting spurs until you have scrubbed a toilet (which, by the way, is covered in pee stains from a pre-schooler who has absolutely not perfected his aim) while a wailing 22-month-old clings to you as if her life depended on your attention at that exact millisecond. (I mean, she has a cruel mother who won’t let her play with the bottle of bleach or the toilet brush. Who wouldn’t be screaming about that?)

Also, darn you, BBC Earth, for including in your Snow Babies documentary footage of a baby and mother penguin who are separated, abruptly ending a little peace and quiet on the pre-schooler front with tears and trauma.

And that’s it for the self-pity this rainy Friday. We’re looking forward to a “knock stuff out” kind of weekend around here. I say bring it on. Clearly, I can handle it. I just weathered toilet scrubbing, after all.

*Note: The above is why I readily admit to normally hiring a cleaning lady every two weeks. She is so worth it. But alas, not in the budget until we can offload that other house.


From under the maple tree

I spent the earlier part of my day scrubbing the last of the blinds and wiping down ceiling fans. As a reward, I am blogging from the back yard while the kids play in the grass. It. is. awesome.


We were supposed to close on the sale of the previous house yesterday. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Closing has been rescheduled for July 30. A lot of projects for the new house are on hold until that happens, including furniture and shelving we need in order to unpack most of the remaining boxes. We’re in unpacking limbo. You would think having entire rooms still empty except for boxes would make it hard to settle in. Instead, it has been somewhat shocking how quickly we have felt at home. Maybe it’s partly because we’ve had to quickly jump back into a busy routine, with Jon’s hefty work schedule and me ferrying Lina to therapy appointments and keeping up with the daily business of family life. It has meant rapidly learning how to navigate the area and feeling grateful for the times we can be at home.

The weather has also been incredible. The last couple days have barely hit 80, which is so rare for Tennessee in mid-July. We have spent hours enjoying the outdoors.

I say all this not to brag, but to say how truly grateful we are for this little spot where we can be at home, even amidst the continued moving mess. Life will be exhausting and rather chaotic for a while, but we have been able to carve out some bit of normalcy, for which I am truly thankful.

And now the awesomeness has ended and both kids are fussing to go inside. Break over – time to head in.

We’re home

We survived the move! One week in our new house, and we’re still bleary-eyed, bruised up and generally exhausted but feeling a little closer to settled each day.

It was an epic day, that Moving Day. We hired professional movers, who did a wonderful job handling our stuff but underestimated the job by about six hours and half a truckload. It made for a very long day for all of us.  Jon pitched in to help unload the truck here at the new house on the first run while I tried to clean around the stuff still left at the old one. The movers arrived for round two at about 8:30 p.m. At 10 p.m., I said my final good-byes to our little house on Holloway Court, mopped myself out the front door and made the trek south to the piles of boxes waiting at the new house. Jon had done a remarkable job getting the kids to bed and the bedroom to as cozy a state as possible. (Of course, there was also the incident where he locked us out of the house before I’d stepped foot inside and had to kick open the back door to get us back in…) We finally fell into bed exhausted at midnight, a pattern that has continued for the past week. I am certain we would not have survived without the generous help of so many family and friends.

I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect, but there’s nothing like the labor of cleaning and arranging a home to foster the necessary bonding. I’ve had bouts of homesickness for the familiarity of the old house, and depression creeps in when I look at how much work still lies ahead. The cure, I’ve discovered, is simply stepping into the back yard for a few moments. Lying in the hammock, staring up at the leaves above me, watching the dozens of fireflies that magically appear at dusk, glancing over at the deer wandering through the woods just up the hill… It’s impossible not to fall in love all over again.

There has been a steady procession of wildlife through our yard since we moved in. A doe and two fawns make frequent visits, and flocks of 20-plus turkey have paraded right by our deck and windows. Five horned buck hung out on the lawn for a while a few days ago. It is beyond our wildest hopes, and those joys have made the transition easier for us all.

The truth is this house feels remarkably comfortable and has since we first saw it. It’s not especially fancy – at least not by Brentwood standards – but it feels like us. I look out the window from our bedroom as I type, down the quiet cul de sac across to the wooded hills surrounding us, and I know: I am home.



This house we love

Here it is, our last full day in this house. I’m tempted to feel it’s still not real, but the mountains of boxes and the eerie echo assure me it’s happening. Tomorrow at 8 a.m., the movers will ring the doorbell, and all our earthly possessions will transfer from this home to a new one.

We moved into this house nine years ago, three years married, in our mid-twenties and secretly sure we were just playing at adulthood. We put a lot into making this house a home. A lot of life happened under this roof. Here Jon cooked romantic anniversary dinners, enjoyed on fine china in the days of just the two of us. Here is where I crumpled to the floor the day before my 30th birthday, when I learned I wasn’t yet going to be a mom. Here is where I took the calls that said, yes, after years of struggle, I really was going to be a mom and a mom again. Here is where we rang in so many New Years at home, sharing that hopeful kiss as the ball dropped miles away. Here is where we brought home our son, our firstborn. Here I sat on the couch, cradling his tiny body and trying to fathom this new life, for him and for me. Here is where our precious daughter drew her first breaths and where we finally brought her back home again, eight days later, to meet her brother. Here we began knitting together the fabric of our family of four. Here we shared countless meals and hours of good conversation with family and dear friends, some of whom now live half a world away. Ugly fights and heartfelt apologies, lovemaking, and so much laughter. So many hours of the everyday, the nitty-gritty, the monotony and joy of life has happened in this place, under this roof.

Really, I thought this parting would be harder. Perhaps God knew I needed the months it took for all the pieces of this move to fall into place. No question, He knew just the new house to get me excited enough to open my hands and let loose this first home I’ve grown to love. Tomorrow, I will take time to walk through each room and say good-bye. I’ll probably shed some tears, especially over that mural in Corin’s room (which, by the way, has a new addition).




I’m ready, though. I’m ready for the next thing. I’m ready for our new house and the many years of memories (and I do mean many) that await us there. We make this move now as 30-something adults, a lot of marriage and life under our belts and confident in all that has led us here. We make the move as a family, trusting in a God who brought us this far and will carry us through all that lies ahead. So yes, there is sadness and nostalgia, but mostly, there is joy and anticipation. (Well, okay, at the moment, it’s buried under a lot of sheer exhaustion.)

But time to get on with my day. For all this talk about good-byes, my house still looks a lot like this: