Sunday, January 9, 2011

Humility by Valance

We’ve been living in our new digs for four months now.
The house is just perfect for us and I’m finding it to be absolutely fabulous.

I think you’ve heard me say before, that I really loved my last house. We picked it out from a model home, made a few modifications and had it built from the ground up. I got to pick out the floors, the paint, the counters, the cabinets, the molding, the hardware, all the things that make someone just love their house, love their house. My friend Christa helped me paint my living room and dining room a gorgeous Gothic Amethyst. My Monday night prayer and accountability group helped paint the girls’ bathroom a fun Startling Orange. My friend Angela painted murals on the girls’ bedroom walls. It was MY house. It was my HOME.

(prayers and painters)

Then the long story of financial better-ship and listening to God’s plan all happened and we found ourselves moving 6 miles north-east of my beloved house. It was hard to leave it and leave the girls’ beloved backyard play structure that my parents so generously and lovingly gave to us as an adoption gift. It was on this that Yolanta and Katie learned how to play at a park. Swings, slides and monkey-bars are not common in Haiti. Nonexistent in the orphanage.

We needed to move, so we did.
Oh yes, there were tears, but there was no sobbing, for I remember that all this is just
dust in the wind.
I proudly left the house, trusting God.

I’m going to skip over the part about our house selling & buying experience. It’s a fine story, but it’s not all that exciting and probably doesn’t need to be documented.
I’ll recap a few things:

-We sold our house in 5 months in an economy that is having record lows (thanks to our fab realtor George Huertas)
-We expected to downsize but ended up renting a house 100 sq feet BIGGER
-We stayed well within our new price-range that was originally showing us considerably smaller houses

Okay. You’re all caught up.
We moved in on our 16th wedding anniversary in August.

The house was built in the early 90’s and it’s pretty obvious. However, let me remind you, we are reeaaalllly lovin’ it here.
The basement is such a bonus. The homeschool room, the entertainment center for movies, Wii and Yoga, Husband’s office, the game room… it’s all in the carpeted basement where it stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There is a chandelier in my entryway. I LOVE the chandelier. For real.

(my gorgie chandelier, the double doors, the gold trimmed mirrors)

But there are gold trimmed mirrors, pink tile in the kitchen and the entire house is covered in Desert Sunrise colored carpet. And if you are a color wheel expert, you will know that this is on the brink of PINK. Yeah…growdy. There is an added-on yet funky sun-porch that I’m struggling to know what to do with. There are three gas fireplaces in the house. The one in the master bedroom is awkwardly situated and doesn’t allow for a comfortable room set up (because husband and I enjoy an entertainment center in our room).

But the prize exhibit, the piece de resistance, the tip-the-scales into barfy is the valance in the living room. It is just gauche!

(the pinky carpet and the valance. yes, those are gold tassels!)

This one day, not too long after we moved in, I had a dinner party. The guest list was 10 adults and a handful of kids. My husband and I were group leaders for the Love & Respect class being offered through our church. It was a 6 week course that met every Sunday evening. We had never met the 5 couples before the first class. So at the end of the course, we wanted to have everyone over for dinner to strengthen our friendships that had only begun 6 weeks prior. I knew much about them for we’d been discussing our marriages with each other for a month and a half! But I didn’t know everything.

While preparing to have them over, I got properly stressed over what to serve, and called my friend Sarah who’s used to cooking for big groups. Then, I started to get embarrassed about the thought of showing the carpet. Then I started to stress over something totally ridiculous. The valance in my living room! Oh, and the disgusting matching one in my dining room. They are not the easy to remove kind, they require a screw driver to get the hardware off to allow for the removal of the fabric. Nothing hard that I can’t do, but I just hadn’t done it nor considered doing it before they got there. Instead, I decided to make sure I let everyone know, THIS IS A RENTAL. No way did I pick those out! My thought process was, if I just make fun of them and ensure they were not a reflection of my personal style and taste, then everyone would forgive them and no one would look at me sideways and wonder why I’ve decided to decorate my house from 2 decades ago. I mean, SHEESH.

As the group started to arrive, I took coats, checked on my soup and offered people a drink all at the same time. While in the kitchen, I heard a small commotion. A sound that was foreign to the normal coming-in-the-door sounds. I walked around the corner and noticed that my front doors (French doors) were both open. This is unusual as we normally just open the side that has the doorknob. Other people had just gotten there and were standing in a group taking off shoes and chattering so I was having a hard time figuring out what was making all that noise and why in the world both doors were open!?

Then I saw.
A ramp had been placed from the bottom of the front porch, up the stairs and laid across the threshold.
A wheelchair bound teen boy was being wheeled up and into my house for dinner.

Now, I knew this couple and learned about the private struggles they had in their marriage. But I didn’t know they had a highschool son in a wheelchair. Thinking back to their input in the conversations, I could better understand their desperate need for ‘alone time’. I then knew what they meant when they said they were exhausted at the end of the day and didn’t often have time for their spouse. It made better sense now that they discussed schedules and transportation more than they did about their dreams for the future.

I was instantly humbled.

-Here I was fretting about the valances when this lovely couple was just simply trying to get their child out of the car and through the door.
-Here I was preparing conversation starters that would allow me to announce that I have better taste than the original homeowners, while my guests were preparing to have, yet again, the conversation about why, how, their son is forever in a wheelchair.
-Here I was worried that they’ll know my soup wasn’t homemade, that not all my dishes match and that my carpet is pink…and they were, they are, anticipating the day when Muscular Dystrophy will take over the most important muscle and stop beating life into their son’s body. This will happen very soon.

I had been proud to be an obedient daughter of God and leave my house that I loved so much, but then very quickly forgot that all of this is dust in the wind.

God, creator and owner of everything, please give me a love for people and for righteousness and a disdain for materialism and covetousness. I want to serve you with an undivided heart that cannot be swayed by the material things of this world. Amen.

I know it’s okay to decorate our houses in a way that makes us happy and to spend money on things that make us pretty. But it’s another to have a lopsided focus on the important things in life and instead worry about what other people think of me and my home. Do I have my eyes on Jesus? Am I honoring my husband? Am I raising my children to love God? Those are the most important things in my life.
It’s okay for me to find the decorations in this house to be ugly. But when it consumes me and my focus gets off joyfully serving others and being content with what I have, then I AM lopsided and need a dose of humility.

I'm so glad I got it. I can have friends over and not worry about the valances. Yes, I do still think their ugly, and yes, I do still plan on taking them down. But I'll be taking them down with a different motive. I'm not going to worry about other people's opinion or be embarrassed. Instead, I'm going to think about pleasing my family with a beautiful home. Until then, I'll have people over without being embarrassed. And I'll have a thankfulness that I have a house with windows, and healthy children and friends who love me.

(our cool new friends playing Nertz on NYE, making faces at me under my lovely valance)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The many faces of Yolie

What I love about my middle daughter is... well... everything.
She is a mysterious creature full of wonderment.
She has one of the most gentle spirits I know.
She's organized, funny and lovingly protective of both her sisters.

Yolanta is also tall and very athletic. Seeing as how she did not get the privilege of organized sports or athletic classes or P.E. in Haiti, coupled with growing several inches in a short amount of time when she came to America (oooh what a healthy diet will do for a body!) she is still growing into her long limbs. One thing's for sure, though, she's Sporty Spice through and through.

Instead of a video (like I did for both her sisters in the previous two posts) I've decided to post pictures of her sporty side. She has an athletic build and possesses a natural athletic bent that I'm sure will have her shining bright for the world to see when she's gets a little older (and when she fully realizes her strength, speed and coordination). She's amazing.

She has so many other qualities, too, of course, but this post would be a thousand pictures long if I uploaded one to show every fabulous quality.

Yolanta the Basketball Player

Yolanta the Soccer Player

More soccer

Yolanta the Gymnast

Yolanta the Rope Climber

Yolanta the Tennis Player

More tennis

Yolanta the Rock Climber

More gymnastics

Yolanta the Bike Rider

Yolanta the Archery Shooter

Yolanta the Trend Setter

Yolanta the Silly Face Maker

Yolanta the Tree Climber

Yolanta the Roller Skater

Yolanta the Inner Tuber

Yolanta the Swimmer

Yolanta the Ballerina

Yolanta the Yoga Student

Yolanta the Fisher

Yolanta the Beautiful Haitian Daughter

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The imperfection is perfect

So you know my daughter Amy?
She's the sweetest thing since sugar cane.

What I love about her is she's the quintessential little girl at whatever age she just happens to be. Right now she's eight.

She plays soccer, goes to Awana, belongs to Christian Youth Theater (she has a singing audition this Friday), plays piano, likes American Girl magazines, laughs at her own toots, and writes on her hand. I mean, totally eight, right?

Here is a video of her playing Minuet 1 by Bach (at the end she also plays Heart and Soul).
She usually plays it considerably better than what you're about to hear, but today, when the camera came out, she made more mistakes than ever. I also noticed her hair was in her face and blocked her cuteness. Then her sister made an unexpected (though adorable) appearance, then my iPhone chimed, then the home phone rang, then her other sister talked in the background... and well, I just should have re-recorded the whole thing.

But I decided, this is life. She makes mistakes, sisters dance, phones ring, and that's what I love about my home. It's wonderfully imperfect.

The video is 3:27

Friday, September 17, 2010

Katie from Haiti

Well, there's no better way to get back to blogging than to just get back to blogging.
Miss me?
I hope so.

My site meter stats have dropped way down so I'm guessing I've lost readers (understandably), but I hope that once I start commenting on YOUR blog, you'll come back to mine. Deal?

Remember back with me if you will, when Katie came home 26 months ago. She was one week shy of turning four years old. It was really fun having the girls home for only one week and getting to celebrate a birthday!

Little lovey spoke zippity zilch English. Nuthin. She spoke Creole in a cute little three year old way. Imagine your three year old child and the English that he knows...cute, right? Yeah, that's what she spoke around here only in a language I didn't understand.

Conversely, her new family spoke a language SHE didn't understand. Learning how to communicate, teaching a new language, building love and trust were the primary things we focused on right off the bat. We called her by her given name, Quetelene, and continue to call her that from time to time. It's just so beautiful and it's the name we kept on her American adoption documents.

These first two years have been an adventure and (as cliche as this sounds) a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings. Believe it or not (adoption peeps, I know you believe it) we're still getting used to things around here. Two years really isn't that long. Then again, it's amazing how much wonderfulness has been brought to our lives in only two years. But, I digress and get back to the cute little thing you see before you.

Here is a video of her reading. That's right, folks, I said READING. Not only has this bright little child learned a second language, she has learned how to read. I'm so honored to have been chosen to be her mom and her teacher. Her love language is TOUCH so we spend a lot of time cheek to cheek. I feel like a Koala Mom when I read books to all three girls on the floor, for Katie is always on my back. I love it.

I'm wondering if she has dyslexia. It could be age and just the learning process of reading, so I'm not going to worry too much about it right now. But I'm for sure going to keep my eye on it. She tends to read words in reverse order after the 4th or 5th word in a sentence. Or she'll interchange letters in a word she's already read. But like I said, that could be all part of the learning process.

Ok, prepare yourself for extreme cuteness, here's Katie, age 6, reading a book she read for the first time today.

(She has the first page memorized because that's pretty much all we've been doing today. But trust me, at 10:00 this morning, she'd never even SEEN this book.)

The video is 2:27 seconds.

Have patience and appreciate her mind working when she gets stuck on "number 3".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My life in 6

1) We sold our house! I've been packing it up and GoodWilling too much stuff. How do I have so much stuff!? I have mixed emotions about selling this house because BOO I love my house but YAY we will be saving money and working toward our future hopes and dreams. Following God's plan is always best, no?

2) Amy has been in Hawaii for a week and is expected home tomorrow night.
Yolanta spent 4 days in Redmond with my sister.
Katie kind of got freaked out that her sisters were gone and behaved oddly.
This is a whole post in and of itself that I think I'll spend time on soon. Security is a funny thing in the life of a 6 year old who was adopted 2 years ago.

3) A few of my friends went on Missions trips all about the same time and I've loved spending facebook hours looking through pictures of Guatemala, India, Haiti.
Jesus' love is pouring out all over the globe!

4) There are boxes everywhere in my house. Everywhere. And since husband-poo had back surger and can't lift anything or do any kind of strenuous stretching or manipulating, yours truly is doing a lot of it solo. Buff arms comin'up!

5) Portland, Oregon summer has been sucky bo bucky this year.

6) Homeschooling has been almost non-existent this summer despite my goals of continuing on. Sigh. I loaded it up with Soccer Camp, Theater Camp, Outdoor Tillikum Camp, VBS, Hawaii (for Amy), Aunt Camp (for Yolie) and a house move. There's no time for school! :) Though today Yolanta learned the proper use of when to use contractions while helping me pack and lable boxes.

Yolanta's Game's
Yolantas Games
Yolantas Game's
Yolanta's Games
Every moment is a teachable moment.

Alrighty, that's it for me now. Sorry it's not a lot of great info or funny stories or deep thoughts to ponder over. I'm hoping to get a good post in here in a while and maybe change up the design of this ol AbFab blog. Any suggestions of things you'd like to read about? I'll try to sneak in a few light posts more frequently. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A comparison

Hey, let’s go swimming!

An 8 year old girl:
“OK, FUN!” She says.
Reaches into her drawer and hurriedly takes out the first swimsuit her hand touches.
Whips it on, pulls it outta her booty as she runs outside.

Ready to go in 8.3 seconds.

A mom:
“Uh, well, um, ok.” She says.
Do I have a swimsuit?
Do I have a swimsuit that fits me?
Do I have a swimsuit that fits me TODAY?
Is it a 2piece day or a 1piece day? Try both on.
Is everything shaved? Plucked? Waxed? Remove unwanted hair.
Will I be going underwater?
If yes, do I take off all make-up and reapply waterproof mascara or just go natural?
If not, do I leave make-up as is or minimally reapply?
What about my hair, do I leave hair as is, or readjust to look pool-y?
Change swimsuit.
What do I wear overtop? Sundress? Shorts? Skirt? Sarong? Tanktop? Try all options.
Pack after-I-go-swimming clothes. New tank, new skirt, new undies, make-up, hairbrush, towel. Beach towel or bath towel? Stand there for a few minutes contemplating both.
Regret having spaghetti instead of salad for dinner last night.
Consider feigning the measles and not going swimming. Ever again.
Change swimsuit.
Put on flip-flops, grab over-packed bag and walk out the door.

Ready to go in 2 hours.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11, 2004

Happy 6th birthday, Quetelene!

We braved Chuck E. Cheese in your honor
and had a fantastic time staring at your smile.

You light up my life.