Nothing Like It In This World

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You know full well as I do the value of sisters’ affections:
There is nothing like it in this world.
- Charlotte Bronte

We didn’t plan to have children six years apart. Someone recently told me that when kids are six years apart, their birth order personalities are the same as only children.

I don’t know if that’s true, but we definitely didn’t plan on having two only children. (Only two, sure. Two onlies, not so much.)

But after Annalyn’s birth was so traumatic, having another baby was far from our minds for a long time. Well, that’s putting it mildly. To put it bluntly, I was scared.

By the time I decided I was probably ready to have another baby, years had passed. And then, as many of you likely know, pregnancy doesn’t always happen the minute you want it to. As more time passed and we didn’t get pregnant, I began wondering if maybe we weren’t going to have another baby at all.

I got older. We needed counseling. (We got counseling). We questioned our desire for another child, wondering if we truly wanted a baby or if we simply didn’t want Annalyn to be an only child. Then we questioned whether that was motive enough.

More time passed. We got comfortable as a family of three.

I gave away a bin of baby clothes. I cried. I made peace.

We traded in our family-size car for a small sedan.

And then? We found out we were finally having another baby.

When I told Mark, he was surprised and more subdued than I expected. Then again, he’d just woken up so he was sleepy, too. When we told Annalyn, she was giddy. Out of her mind, over the moon excited. Giggling and screaming and dancing around the dinner table.

(Mark said, “That’s how I meant to react…” Heh.)

As the months went by, Annalyn remained excited. Crazy excited. Even when I was too tired to play…or cook dinner. Even when we rearranged her room, when we pulled out her old toys and books and clothes and said, “No, these are for the baby now!” and when the baby got as many Christmas presents as she did.

Even then, she Could! Not! Wait! to be a big sister.

Her face when she saw her baby sister for the first time? Priceless. Beautiful. (And, you can’t see it here, but mostly a Smile That Wouldn’t Stop.)

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Of course, in the spirit of not letting people just be happy, that’s when the comments started.

“Oh, just wait…”
“Sure, she loves her NOW…”
“They’ll be fighting before you know it!”

Um, thanks, people.

I’m aware that they may certainly have days, seasons, even years of squabbling and tattling and she stole my flat iron-ing. But for now? Right now? Nine months in?

MY TWO GIRLS ADORE EACH OTHER.

It’s to the point of ridiculous, really.

Adrienne can spend 25 minutes fussy and crying between the babysitter’s house and the elementary school, making my wait in the pickup line less than delightful. But the second Annalyn opens up that back door, that cranky baby stops crying and grins so big I swear her cheeks must hurt. Then they spend the three-minute drive home giggling and cooing at each other. Ridiculous. And ADORABLE.

Fall Family Fun Festival

I mean, really.

They crack each other up all day long. And they’ve already started causing trouble together. Annalyn refuses to go to bed without One More Hug from her sister, and Adrienne often takes twice as long as necessary to eat her dinner because she’s too busy tracking her sister’s every move around the room.

A scary first birth, a slow second birth and all the hard things in between? Big lemons. But the bond already growing between my two amazing girls?

Beautiful lemonade I wouldn’t trade for anything.

How have you found lemonade with your family?

 

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This post is part of a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.

31 Days…ish

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After months of sporadic (to put it generously) blogging, I thought just typing the words, “31 Days” would magically flip the switch on my motivation, productivity and general follow-through-ness.

That was silly.

I was out of town on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday was jam-packed with church, a pumpkin carving party with my middle school students, and small group. And somewhere in there I managed to talk to my husband about a thousand different things that we just haven’t had time to unpack in the past few weeks.

Monday was, well, recovery. And quality time with a cranky baby. And a cancelled haircut, which is most certainly a big lemon. My hair is out of control!

It wasn’t a day with only lemons, thankfully. I also had lunch with a great friend who I haven’t seen nearly enough of lately. Oh! AND…before I walked into the restaurant to meet her, I realized that the SIZE STICKER was still on the back of my new jeans.

Whew.

The crazy-busy weekend was good, too. Some definite lemons and not-lemons-but-still-hard things. But lemonade enough to fill several glasses, for sure.

Alas, I am too tired to even put all those things into a bulleted list. (Lemon = getting to use the word “alas.”) So I’m going to bed. I’m hopeful for tomorrow – for meeting deadlines, resuming this blog series and working ahead a bit.

How was your weekend?

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Lemon + Chicken = Dinner Dinner

15 Lemon Recipes

A couple weeks ago it was my turn to take snacks to small group, and Mark requested Jalapeno Popper Dip. He asked so nicely I couldn’t very well tell him no – but I did ask him to go to the store to get the ingredients. He brought everything home (including the sour cream that I always think I need but, in fact, do not), and while the bacon cooked, I mixed up the rest of the dip.

I was just about ready to pop the popper dip in the oven when I pulled out the panko crumbs he’d bought me. Luckily for everyone I noticed the box before sprinkling the crumbs on the dip: Lemon Pepper.

Bummer.

My dip definitely did not need the flavors of lemon or pepper, but I figured it was still a win because I can always dredge some chicken in it and voila! Easy dinner.

I was going to actually make that chicken for dinner last night to make this 31 Days post complete, but the evening didn’t go according to plan. Said evening included great big grins from an otherwise cranky baby, a seven-year-old very excited to go on a little road trip with me this weekend, and a few stolen minutes catching up with my husband.

But it also included some definite lemons – including a dinner that did not happen. Oh well. I baked and froze the bag of chicken I’d thawed out and then looked up a whole bunch o’ lemon chicken recipes for you.

Winner winner…well, you know.

So, just in case you find yourself with extra lemons and/or chicken – or just get a hankering for lemon chicken after this post! – here are 15 lemon chicken recipes!

15 Delicious Lemon Chicken Recipes

I think I’m most likely to make the Chicken in Lemon Butter Caper Sauce:

chicken in Lemon butter caper sauce

But if someone else was cooking? I’d pick either Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Chicken:

ina garten's chicken

…or the Lemon Chicken Romano:

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Although, really, it’s impossible to choose. They all look delicious. Yum!

What’s your favorite Lemon Chicken recipe?

 

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This post is part of a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.

Finding Peace in the Process {Guest Post}

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I didn’t dream of being a mom. I just assumed I would eventually have kids.

A people-pleasing, first-born child, I was a good student who went to college and never changed my major. I interned and worked as a news reporter – just as my print journalism degree would have me do. I married my college boyfriend and we started our life together. I went through life as I assumed lives were supposed to be lived.

Then one day in December 2004, I realized the birth control pills I was taking regularly were preventing God from having his way with my family. Like every stereotypical young, American couple, we decided we were “ready” to have a baby. My husband Greg was already ready and was just waiting – quite patiently, I might add – for me to want a family.

My time table was a good one. I had the sequence of events figured out and inked on the calendar.  But nothing was going according to plan.

But, really, all that control I was scared to death to give up is like a big pile of lemons. Sometimes it looks pretty, but it’s often sour. Life was giving me lemons, and I struggled to make lemonade.

Nearly two years went by and for various reasons we were still childless. Yes, I cried out to God when friends announced pregnancies: “I told you I was ready!” There they were, sipping on their lemonade while I stared at the pile of lemons I was just making bigger.

The waiting made me weary. The medicine that helped me ovulate made me cranky. The whole season put a strain on my marriage.

I just wanted to have a baby.

That was the next step in life, in my plan.

But it wasn’t the next step in my life as God saw it. It’s a long story, one I tell in my new ebook, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.” But I did eventually become a mom, never expecting adoption to be our story.

But it’s a story I tell over and over again because it’s the one that changed me. It’s the journey on which I learned to do something with those lemons. It’s when I learned how to make lemonade.

Adoption built my faith and gave me a family. And surrendering to God was refreshing, like drinking that lemonade made directly from that large, intrusive pile of lemons.

On my journey to motherhood, I learned what the peace that passes all understanding really means and how God really does work together all things for his good. I have a testimony of God’s faithfulness – something I wouldn’t trade for getting my own way when I thought I knew what was best.

Peace in the Process

Kristin Hill Taylor tells about becoming and being a mom after the hard season of infertility in “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family,” which is available at Amazon. She believes in taking road trips, living in community, and seeking God as the author of every story – many of which she shares at www.kristinhilltaylor.com. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her college sweetheart husband and their two kids.

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This post is part of a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.

Two Decades Means a Lot of Lemonade

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My friend Elizabeth came over to my house after school to curl my hair. My little brother ironed the vest came with my skirt set – the one my mom suffered through a tortuous shopping trip to find.

Yes, I was pretty in plaid well before Britney told us to hit her one more time.

After a dinner during which Mark claims I didn’t talk (because he never stopped, for the record) and an awkward couple of slow dances in our high school gym, we drove to my friend’s house. As we joined a group of sophomores who hadn’t gone to the dance, I realized I was overdressed. My friend loaned me a t-shirt and pair of sweatpants, and I made myself at home. We snacked and chatted and played pool until it was time to go home.

That first date of ours took a village, you guys!

I had no idea how important that high school dance would become in the story of my life, yet I still remember lots of big and small details of that night. But as sweet as those memories are, they aren’t even a drop in the bucket of the last two decades of living and loving.

Anniversary

Homecoming was just the first of many dances we went to together.

Mark and I went to our school’s Homecoming dance together twenty years ago today. And aside from some heated teenaged fights and two years of long-distance agony dating, we’ve been together ever since.

And that means we have been handed – and handed each other – a lot of lemons in the last twenty years. There was a time when I would’ve stopped there, but no more. What I know today is that without those lemons, without our struggles and our heartbreaks, without the bounced checks and funerals and late-night tears, without all that? We would’ve missed a whole lot of lemonade.

Twenty years of lemonade means…

…knowing each others’ stories
…and getting each others’ jokes
…vacations
…birthdays
…holidays
…crazy families
…funerals
…babies
…figuring out what works
…and learning what to let go
…making decisions together
…and facing consequences together
redefining romance
being on the same team
…and believing in miracles.

When I went to a dance with that cute senior who had his own car, I was just going to a dance with a cute senior who had his own car. But, as it turns out, I was starting a full, amazing, challenging, messy, beautiful life that would hand me all kinds of fruit.

Happy “anniversary,” Mark. You’re still my favorite person, and I love you a lot.

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This post is part of a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.