Monday, December 5, 2011

Running away TO home!

Hey! Here we are!!

It all started in October. Matthew and I took a spontaneous trip to Chicagoland to see my best friend and her family. As I mentioned in my last post, it was a wonderful trip. (I did get my camera back!!)

We arrived home on a Saturday.

The following Friday, we departed for Southern California. Southern California is where I was born and raised. It's also where DH and I both attended college and where we met. The occasion of the trip was for our vacation, and the specific destination was chosen to allow us to attend the wedding of a little boy grown man I used to babysit!  I was also his VBS leader, his camp leader, his Sunday School teacher, his Children's Church teacher, and his Pioneer Club leader over the years so I had a lot of time to spend with him and his sister and their parents.

This is how I remember (and sometimes, still think of) these sweet "kids" (sorry, Shane and Dev!)

I could not love this kid and his family more if they were my own flesh and blood so when he finally popped the question to his beloved earlier this year, I asked Todd if we could make it a priority to attend the wedding, and he worked hard to make it happen.

Here we are.

The wedding was beautiful and I didn't make it 5 minutes without bawling like a baby. Matthew melted down shortly after the reception started so we didn't get to stay past the first toast, but I did get to witness the ceremony, and I got to tell my boy I love him and give him and his new bride (and the rest of his family) a big hug. While we waited for them to arrive at the reception, we also got a chance to visit with many of the other people I grew up knowing at church.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see so many people, and to introduce Matthew to them!  

Here we are with Shane's parents. I didn't get a good photo with the kids (dislike!)

But I did get a nice photo of just their family. Aren't they beautiful?

Shane's parents were two of my mentors growing up, so we sort of had this little chain going on.  I had asked Robin if we would be able to see them at all after the wedding but I knew the chances were unlikely as I was sure they had other family festivities to attend. Saturday night as we were leaving, Robin said she'd call me in the morning about getting together! I was elated!

We went to church at the church I grew up in, which was neat. Then We packed up the hotel and headed over to their house, expecting to spend an hour or so. They spent the whole afternoon with us. Watching them play with Matthew made my heart so full.

I really love my friends and family in Phoenix, but having Matthew connected with this piece of my history added a whole new dimension to my journey as a parent and as a woman. I really truly felt like my heart would burst that day. I left with my eyes brimming with tears--joy for the experience we'd just had, and sadness that I won't likely see them again for years. I really don't want to live in California, but I do wish we could have the opportunity for Matthew to know and spend time with them. An amazing and humbling moment for me was when I asked Sean and Robin how they managed to raise two such great kids and Sean said, "You helped." Guys, if you're reading this, that blessed me more than you know. I hope Matthew has Seans and Robins in his life, and that I can be as good of a parent to him as you have always been to your kids.

On the way TO my hometown, we stopped at our adoption agency

where Matthew got to meet our adoption coordinator!

That was incredibly special for us, too.

After leaving Sean and Robin's, we headed down to La Mirada, to visit our Alma Mater. We got up on Monday morning and took Matthew to chapel.

Then we met some of our dear friends, who have a daughter just 6ish weeks younger than Matthew, for lunch in the College Cafeteria. THAT was a blast from the past as Dave and I had many lunches there together, MANY years ago ;). Dave is one of my oldest friends. I met him during my freshman year before either of us had met our spouses and we've stayed friends, since. Spending time with his family was precious to me, too. I was such a gypsy growing up that having any kind of history with anyone is still sort of foreign to me, and extra precious.

After sweet time with Dave and Jenn, they headed out and we spent time bumming around campus, visiting our old haunts.

Here's Matthew, telling us he's done taking pictures. We hope one day we can take his picture in front of "Jesus" when Matthew is a student at the school. (Hey! We love him and have a wonderful plan for his life!)

We spent a few minutes visiting with a college professor, and then we headed over to the city park, which is where Todd and I spent much of our courtship. We had our first date, and many other dates in that park, walking around the lake hand in hand or sitting and feeding the ducks. We envisioned sharing the experience with Matthew. What we didn't know is that in the 10 years since we moved away, the ducks and geese have taken combat training and are actually ATTACK geese and ducks, who literally chased us through the park, even though we hadn't taken anything out of a bag to indicate to them that we even HAD food. We ran and hid (the "we" in the hiding part is Matthew and I---I had visions of them nipping at his fingers) in the bathrooms while we waited for them to lose interest, half scared, half laughing uncontrollably.

Seriously, look how close they are to my camera.

DH, attempting to pacify them.

After they were satisfied that they really had taken us for everything we had, they let us alone. At that point, from a distance, Matthew thought they were great fun.

We tried to get a nice family photo.

I love this progression of our attempts at a self portrait:
Matthew-"another picture? Geeze!"

Todd: attempting to get Matthew to smile.
Matthew: "You can't make me smile! Get away from me mom!"

Matthew: "Ha ha! You asked me for one smile. I gave it to you! I look adorable! You parents look lame! Mission accomplished!"

A nice passerby took pity on us and snapped a picture, but Matthew-man wasn't going to smile for her. Nuh-uh. He'd smiled in the last photo.

After the park, we headed for dinner and the hotel. We put Matthew down and then I went for my first post-baby girls' night out with another dear friend from college, who drove up from San Diego to see me. We spent hours talking until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. It was wonderful!

Tuesday, it was time to head home. Like he had on the drive out, Matthew did wonderfully on the drive home. Our vacation was amazing and my soul was blessed immeasurably.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent unpacking, doing laundry, and finishing a project for church because on Friday, we left for Flagstaff (a town 120ish miles north of here) for my church women's retreat. Todd went with me to stay with Matthew in the hotel room so I could attend sessions (I am still nursing so I could not go without Matthew but didn't want him to be disruptive in sessions). On the way up, we got word of a terrible accident on the freeway, so we detoured through another town, which is hometown to Todd's brother and his family so we had lunch with them. We eventually made it to Flagstaff, and had a nice weekend.

We came home Sunday night. On Tuesday, my parents arrived for Thanksgiving. This was nice, but a little stressful, for reasons I'll share below. I cooked the Thanksgiving meal and hosted it at my in-laws' house, which is much more suited for company and centrally located to everyone than mine is. That was nice, but just complicated to plan the meal at one house, and prepare it at another and make sure all the parts and pieces got there, get organized, etc.

Here we are :) (I'm noticing that I wear this sweater a lot! I do own more outfits!)

Matthew with Todd's dad

With all of his grandmas :)

In the midst of all that, Matthew turned 10 months old.

He weighed 19.5 pounds (finally gaining some weight and he has since cracked 20lbs!) (between 10-25%), wears size 2 diapers in the day and 3s at night, and wears mostly 9-12 month clothes because of his height. He still has just 2 teeth and almost no hair, which is a-ok with me--keeps him looking like my baby and less like a big boy. His soft spot on his head is almost gone and I miss it. He needs to be put in to his big boy carseat (sniff sniff!) so he's somewhere above 30" long. He crawls, cruises, eats 3 meals of solids per day, nurses less frequently than I was ready for, is back to sleeping through the night (hallelujah!), is my little social butterfly and a total ham and flirt, and is remarkably obedient for someone his age. His favorite foods are chicken, mangoes, pineapples, and sweet potatoes. His new skill is dancing! He stands at his activity table, turns on the music, and bops up and down. It's hilarious and so adorably cute, though I've yet to catch it on video.

Thanksgiving came and went, as did daddy's birthday.

My parents left on Saturday afternoon. I spent Sunday resting and then had to go into hyperdrive, because I was throwing my mom a surprise 50th birthday party the following weekend (which now, is yesterday).

It was a joy to have my parents at my house most of the previous week but I couldn't work on party things while my mom was here!) I planned, shopped for, decorated, and cooked for 40, mostly by myself, all while trying to keep it a secret from my mom.

Plus, it was 2 hours away so there were logistical complications involved with trying to plan everything remotely. And, the party was at her church, and she is involved in LITERALLY, everything there (she's on staff as the church administrator so nothing happens at the church without her knowledge) and our cover was almost blown in the last 24 hours but we did ultimately manage to surprise her, I think.

(Hello again, sweater!)

Today, I slept as much as I could while Matthew hung out with grandma. We watched the Packers game and then headed home, but now it's near 3:00am and my wonderful nap earlier has caused sleep to elude me now.

I keep joking that now that I'm finally home, I'm never leaving my house again EVER. It's been an amazing, wonderful past couple of months but I am looking forward to some quality quiet time here at home with my little family, refocusing our attention on the beauty that is Christ's birth.

We've set up our Christmas tree and gave Matthew his first nativity set. The poor people of Bethlehem never knew what hit them.

My parents gave Matthew this ornament, which is really neat if you're interested. We were going to begin our advent celebration tonight but got home too late so I'm looking forward to tomorrow, in doing our first advent celebration with Matthew. A relationship with God is a wonderful thing no matter where you are in life, but now with Matthew here in my arms, I just understand Christmas and Christ's birth and death and resurrection, and God's sacrifice and love for us just differently than I did before. It's really a humbling experience. I'm really looking forward to spending this season with my little family.

Well as I said, it's 3:00am and morning comes soon so I must get to bed. Thanks for those of you who are still checking in even though we've been silent since Halloween! I've been keeping up on those of you who blog and I love reading what's happening in your lives.

Goodnight, and love to you all!

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