Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Year Ago Today...

...we had been here 3 weeks. We had been in our apartment for 2 weeks. We had no idea what we were doing. I was still in shock, having been uprooted and transplanted at a time that used to feel so familiar, so tradition-filled, so much like home.
We had two daughters outside the womb, and had just found out, this morning, a year ago today, that a third little one was going to come in September. It was a sweet Christmas gift after months of trying.
A year ago today, I thought I was doing fine, but now realize just how out of it I was. Newly displaced. Newly replaced? Newly pregnant. Newly aware of my weaknesses and overwhelmed by my sin. Newly desperate for the grace that came to earth on Christmas Day, 2000+ years ago.
Today, settled in our home a year+ in, things are quiet, less shocking, beautiful, friend-filled and joy-filled. Today I am not pregnant, but delighting in my still somewhat new-born babe. Today we are far more aware of the traditions we are cultivating with a four and two year old who can answer questions and process what's going on around them and delight in "Jesus's Birfday!" Today I am still desperate for the grace that came to earth in a baby, a light to lighten the Gentiles and to live and die for those He came to save. I love the image in the old hymn, "While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night" of the Angel who appears to these humble sheep herders and blasts the triumphant announcement:
"To you in David's town this day is born of David's line/ A Savior who is Christ the Lord and this shall be a sign/ A heavenly babe you there shall find to human view displayed,/ All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands and in a manger laid."
Hallalujia! Hallelujia! Hallelujah! Christ is born!

A year ago today, they had just arrived. Jonathan's brother, his beautiful wife and their precious baby boy. He was only four months old. About Ada's age now. And they had flown across oceans and continents to welcome us to our new, foreign home and to be with us at Christmas. AirFrance lost their luggage (shocking...NOT). They had used most of it to bring extra treats for us and the girls during the holidays, anyway. They came to bring joy and light to a Christmas that would have otherwise been, I imagine, lonely and hard. I meant to post this a year ago. (A YEAR AGO, Anne W. A YEAR AGO. You are not that behind. ;) ) So here it is. When Mary Stuart, Joel and Oliver came to visit.
They got here after a grueling 24+ hours of travel time. With an infant. They were cheerful and up and ready to go! They were flexible and gracious to these people who had no idea what we were doing or where to find things or what restaurants to go to or who foods to cook in our new city. They even helped us arrange travel plans with some friends who were also in the area.
Cuddling with Aunt MS and Oliver on the couch by the tree.

Touring the city the day after they arrived! Troopers!
Lilsy, a year ago.
Annie and Oliver cuddle in bed.

The day after Christmas, we traveled to some villages nearby in our state, then to an ancient city. We took a small travel bus, the 11 of us, and it was actually quite an adventure. Most of the roads were full of enormous potholes, so what should have been about 6 hours turned into 12 or 14...

Climbing the rocks in a village nearby.

Getting ready for our trip. Oliver is prepared in carseat and shades.

We spent our first night at a little hotel the guidebook recommended. We were newbies. We didn't know. It was vile. Please call me before you book reservations at the
Sri Lakshmi Golden Beach Resort.
our mosquito netted bed.

Our bathroom.

The bugs in our bathroom.

Annie's bed with no sheets that she did not sleep in on the floor with no mosquito net. She slept with us.

Stops along the way.
We kept pulling over to take pictures at the incredible, gorgeous, ancient ruins just sitting on the side of the road.

Annie learns to pose from our friend Alexandra

An ancient temple. Doesn't it look like the Jungle Book? I think Kipling modeled the monkey palace after this place. It was gorgeous.

When we got back home, Joel busted out the gingerbread men and helped the girls decorate them. He and Mary Stuart brought them all the way from the states for the girls.

What a good uncle!

Then we went to the zoo! That was amazing. The girls and I pose here with a hippo.

And then to Mysore, where the king lives.
We rode an elephant.
It was super fun.
Our first family elephant ride.

Jonathan and Joel practiced their S. Asian cultural awareness.

They brought gifts and gingerbread men and green sprinkles for the Christmas tree bread. They brought great, flexible, adventurous attitudes. They brought sweet little Oliver. They didn't haggle me when I never posted about it on the blog. They brought a little familiarity and family to us at Christmastime and I will never forget how that made everything a little easier, sweeter, more memorable and real.
So a year ago today, I'm thanking God for an incredible year. I am thanking him that this is our second Christmas, and not our first. And I'm thanking him for the Atl Iversons who came to make the first Christmas bearable and wonderful and beautiful and merry and bright.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ada Potato--3 Months old

It's been a hard mommy month.
I'm not going to lie.
My littlest babe turned three months just two days before my biggest turned four!!
Often, milestones and birth month marks go unnoticed in this house. Maybe it's the sentimental feelings surrounding the holidays, maybe it was two big milestones in one month, but something about my babes growing up made me weepy this month.
Ada rolls back and fourth, plays with toys, locks eyes, engages, smiles, coos and survives two very attentive, doting big sisters,
We love you Ada Potato!!
(but say it with an a, so it rhymes...obviously.)

Final Days

Here are a few shots of Annie on her last day of being three.
I tried for awhile to get Annie and Lily to pose. But they refused.
Until I stopped trying to get them to pose.
And then they hammed it up.
And we changed clothes because we have a house full of girls and that's what we do.

And then they looked through our dining room window for awhile and whispered about the white bird that sometimes sits outside our window.

Then we had lunch and went down to the park for awhile.
And played in the sand.

And the next day Annie woke up, and she was four.
And the earth kept turning through space like it always does.
But it seemed like it really should have stopped for at least a few seconds when my first baby girl turned four.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Granne & Gee-Daddy Come to Visit

What to say about my precious parents who sacrificed their time, money and frequent flier miles so that they could be with us during the Thanksgiving Holiday? They went completely outside of their comfort zone and sought to serve our family (especially their grand girls) by traveling far far away to bring us some light and joy as we are far far away from family this year during the holidays. Thank you so much, Mom and Dad. We loved seeing y'all more than you know. And the way you poured into our girls has reaped benefits long after your leaving. Thank you for the countless books you read, stories you told, hugs you gave, laps you provided for sitting and cuddling, stories/songs/absurdities you listened to, travels you endured, hide&seek games you played and more. Y'all are truly wonderful grandparents and we are so thankful for you.

A few photos from their visit:

A four hour drive from our city, we went to see the state palace all lit up!

Our family of five...don't miss Lils on Jonathan's back.
I did not venture onto the elephant with my infant, but I did run around following them so I could take photos! The elephant liked me. I could tell. He kept waving his trunk at me and he let me pet him several times. He had kind eyes. We connected.

This is not a green screen.

classic Annie.

A local bird sanctuary. Annie is at the ready with her bird book.

Faithful Gabriela.

Being a former rower, the guide instantly recognized my ability to steer through crocodile infested waters and asked me to take the oars. Or. Jonathan asked if I could row for a few seconds.

I am not zooming in on this animal with my camera lens. We were REALLY that close.

Gee to the daddy with A to the Annie.

Jumping off the observation tower into our capable father's arms.

High Jump

Family Photo.


Eating off banana leaves.

Local restaurant

We celebrated Annie's birthday a few days early so G&G could watch her open her presents.

From Aunt Kimberly and the Newarks!

A fav. Melissa & Doug Birthday cake. She saw one at Amie and Judah's house and played with it all night.

A little shy.

Granne and Princess Annie do their toenails.

Reading by the light of the christmas tree.

Bonding with the littlest.

Thank you again, Granne and Gee-Daddy for venturing over here to do life with us for two weeks. We love you and miss you all over again!