Making room in our hearts

November flew by for us and now we’re only weeks away from welcoming our next baby girl into our home. We enjoyed some birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving, putting up the Christmas tree with the children this year, and are ramping up for the big change in our growing family. It was really fun to see Timothy so excited and involved with picking out items and writing notes for the Operation Christmas Child boxes this year. Hopefully we’ll do this together in future years and he’ll get to be even more hands-on.

We’re getting our home and hearts ready to receive the gift of another daughter and the good news of Jesus’ incarnation Christmas. Timothy’s been excited about our Advent readings and recalling the memory verses that point to Jesus’ coming at Christmas. His daily expressions of gratefulness for his new baby sister are so sweet to us and it’s been precious to see his excitement catch on with Grace, too. They both seem eager to take on their older sibling roles to their little sister so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out when she arrives and rocks our family’s world.

This last month of 2015 was a flurry of activity with some final outings before meeting Baby Mary and continuing to prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ birth. I finally finished packing our hospital bag on Sunday before Christmas and went into labor that evening. It was unexpected, but after hours of laboring at home, we went to the hospital in the middle of the night and met sweet little Baby Mary Anne Ma at 3:16AM in the morning on the 21st. Twelve days early was a new record for us, but we were so grateful to get to meet Mary before Christmas and celebrate this additional blessing in our family as we adjusted to being a full-fledged family of five.


Pumpkins, puddles, playtime

Some sunny days around here have allowed us chances to spend more time outside than we expected in October. We checked out two local pumpkin patches and the kids have been relishing the local apple and apple cider season here.

While baby’s growth has me physically drained and beyond mental capacity some days, I’m still thankful I can spend some sweet moments with Timothy and Grace as we anticipate the arrival of their newest sister. Grace’s vocabulary is becoming easier to discern by the week, and her little stubborn ways with saying or doing things remind me of my own (although it’s pretty frustrating at times!). Her humor and compassion for our family is to cute to see grow, especially when she hurries to hug and comfort her brother when he’s sad, even when she causes it! Grace still loves being held when she’s not busy playing and shoving various containers or bags full of toys, books and whatever else she can get her hands on at the time. Her dance moves are enthusiastic and we love watching her get excited to dance with all of us.

Timothy has his better and difficult days (sometimes quite out of sync with mine!), but most days he is quite eager to do some schooling and workbooks around play times, and has taken up practicing writing everyday on his own. This means we’ve needed to provide easy access to permissible writing surfaces and easily washable writing instruments. He especially likes writing or spelling out our all entire family’s names…on everything. Timothy’s animal and people drawings are getting creative and his humor is increasingly quirky and silly. Both kids currently like listening to our Cubbies curriculum CD (all. day. long.) and it’s been fun to see Grace share Timothy’s enthusiasm for the stories, too even though she’s not in the program.

September beginnings

We took advantage of the final days of the summer farmers markets around here as fall weather took over last month. Our children are continuing to grow in their friendship and it’s been so sweet to see them love each other so much at times as a sibling pair. They especially enjoy holding hands across the aisle in the car, giving each other hugs and kisses (most of the time), and sharing food with one another (mainly Timothy giving to Grace, though; she’s a big eater!) We continue to be excited about meeting baby girl, and are savoring how Timothy tells and shows us everyday how very thankful he is for another sister. The excitement and endearment has been passed on to Grace, too. It’s been such a joy to watch Timothy grow as a big brother.

A short visit from my older sister brought along some sweet time with Aunty Sophia for our kids and some nice sister time for me, too.  After our visitor, we jumped right into the full swing of school, Bible study, and a more consistent weekly routine.  I turned 30, and was struck by immense gratitude for the opportunity to be my little ones’ primary teacher, a part of the new Revelation study at BSF, and serve our local church. It was nice to reflect and look forward to all the Lord has for me this year and in this new decade, and am eager to learn more from others, especially older folks as I stumble along in so many different roles.

August Adventures

Little Grace has now had a grand total of six little teeth emerge and is really making herself known in our little family with her emerging independence and sometimes sassy attitude. She’s talking a lot this month and mimicking many new words and phrases in both Cantonese and English. Some current favorites are signing and saying “Jesus is wonderful”, yes in both languages, “I know”, “oh no”, big brother (Gaw Gaw), draw in Chinese (劃畫), asking us to put on her shoes or sleep sack, pick her up or give her grapes in Chinese, referring to herself as little sister (Mui Mui), “blueberry”, and calling out for me (Mama) repeatedly and randomly so that I can respond with her name. It’s like what Timothy does with his precious little call and response games, and it’s still so cute to me. She and I had more time alone with each other this month while Timothy had sports camp and swim lessons, and I’ve enjoyed these times with our little girl, especially as it helps me to take closer notice of some of her changes. She does a lot of playing pretend by herself and some with Timothy. It’s pretty amusing to watch them cook in the play kitchen and eat each other’s creations. Grace’s more apparent spunk and independence is helping us to see more clearly how different she is than her brother.

Between play dates, lots of workbooks and park outings, the children and I also made it through two different work trips Andrew had to take in August. Timothy and Grace ebb and flow throughout the days in their relationship and varying stages of getting along, which certainly have some days feel too long or fly right by. Some of their sweet brother-sister moments make me tear up and savor this endearing season. Other challenging moments can be exasperating as I face my selfishness while attempting to teach them to love one another selflessly. Timothy’s big brotherly affection has been apparent lately as he’s been eager to greet and snuggle his new little sister everyday, all day. We’re happy to be expecting another baby in early January (probably arriving in late December) and are thrilled to have another daughter. As we approach the year mark since finding out we lost the baby in between Grace and this next baby girl, I struggle to embrace the joy of this blessed season of welcoming new life after loss. It’s difficult to share our news without the pangs in my heart of missing a child, especially knowing that so many others have suffered similarly devastating losses and the mixed bag of emotions when it come to sharing in others’ joys. It’s also impressed upon me the how short and fragile life is, and how my job is to impress that upon our children’s hearts even as we soak in this precious and fleeting season. Their expressed fears and tantrums (and mine, too) are hard, but the delightful moments of relational harmony, snuggling, playing, learning, reading, singing, giggling and dancing sure brighten up our home.

Cold days at the beach

We took a trip down the Oregon Coast and enjoyed some family time together despite the weather not cooperating for most of our visit. Around power outages and heavy rains, we checked out the Tillamook Cheese Factory, took a steam engine train ride, ate local ice cream, played on the beach, and visited pretty Cannon Beach. It was a nice way to end the month, but we’re glad to be back in our own warm home since autumn seems to be coming in strong with cooler temperatures and some much-needed rains. My upcoming 30th birthday also signals the start of an exciting new BSF study in Revelation, a more formal weekly routine of homeschooling and activities, and a new decade of growth for me. I’m floored by how much our children have developed this summer, and am excited for this season and rhythm it will bring for our family before we welcome a new little one into our home. Thanks for keeping up with our growing family!

Relief from the heat, country outings

We caved and had whole-house air conditioning installed in July and are so grateful for the bedrooms that no longer feel like saunas in the evenings. Andrew and Timothy had fun visiting the Northwest Railway Museum together during their Day out with Thomas adventure. Trains and any moving vehicles are still so exciting to our little guy, and it’s been fun to see his enthusiasm and interest in cars rub off on his little sister. Grace and I enjoyed some mornings out on walks and at a park playground for a week while Timothy was at his first sports camp, too. We wrapped up July with a family outing to Remlinger Farms Country Fair Fun Park. We saw more of Timothy’s adventurous personality emerge in his eagerness to try as many rides as possible and see as many animals as he could. Grace’s hesitation with animals larger than her (almost all of them!) and her timidity with rides reminded me of myself.