2013 in Review

One of our favorite things to do at the end of each year is remind ourselves of some of the year’s highlights. Originally I intended to post the “Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013”. However, as I looked at what those posts were, I realized that most of them were the first Abby updates. Rather than include ten Abby updates, I’ve edited the list slightly to give a fair view of some of the favorite posts of the year:

10. Wasted Seasons

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This is one of Dan’s favorite posts of the year.

9. Anniversary Date

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A sweet story of a special date just days before Abby was born.

8. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

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Some thoughts on the lessons I’ve learned this year about suffering.

7. Ten Things I’ve Learned in Three Years of Marriage

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An anniversary post.

6. Abby is Home!

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This was the highlight of our year!

5. A Letter from Abby

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Abby hijacked my blog one day and wrote this sweet letter of thanks.

4. Abigail’s Birth Story

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A detailed account of the day Abby was born.

3. The Birth Story I’ll Never Tell

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In this post, I shared why we will never have the birth story we had always hoped for, and how God helped us to accept the situation.

2. Abby Update: 66 Days Old

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This is the day Abigail was transferred from St. Joe’s over to UofM Mott’s Children’s Hospital due to her excessive spit up and weight loss over the past several weeks.

1. Introducing Abigail Faith

 photo pregnancies_zps233c3fe6.jpgWas anyone surprised? This was the first post published after Abby was born announcing her early birth at just 28 and a half weeks.

Anniversary Date

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During the past week, Dan and I realized a few different things:

1. We had yet to take our belated anniversary date
2. A recent doctor’s visit revealed the first warning sign that Baby 2 could be born early
3. The next four or five weekends are all full (weddings, moving, church events)

We concluded that if we wanted to get in our special date before Baby 2 is born, we were going to have to take it on Saturday. (We realized this on Saturday morning)

After a few quick phone calls, Dan had made arrangements for a family from church to watch Lydia for us all afternoon. This was only the second time that we had left Lydia with anyone ever. And, it was the very first time we’d left Lydia with anyone to go out on a date, just the two of us. Was I excited?

I was excited.

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So we dropped the Munchkin off and soon she was happy playing with her friends from church. To be honest, there was a part of me that wondered if it’d feel weird not having her with us. I even wondered if we would run out of things to talk about. When we got back in the car, there was a moment of silence and we realized we hadn’t driven anywhere together without Lydia since she came home from the hospital over two years ago.

Soon, however, we were chatting away and the GPS on Dan’s phone, Waze, was taking us back to downtown Plymouth for our date. We were well on our way to the restaurant when all of a sudden I glaced up to see a ferris wheel in the center of the road! To our surprise, this weekend also happened to be the Plymouth Fall Festival, a relatively huge carnival that takes place right in the heart of Plymouth. So, we ditched our plans to sit by the lovely fountain (because of the extremely loud music, crowds of high school couples, and cheerleaders) and found a cozy little bench just outside of all the activity.

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On our way to this bench, we noticed some obscenely large stuffed animals, and kids abducting aliens (a funny twist you don’t often hear about, we thought). Anyway, we enjoyed just sitting on a bench, not carrying a diaper bag, not chasing a toddler, free to chat away for more than three minutes without interruption.

Don’t get me wrong. We love Lydia. We love having her around. We love chasing her around. And we get plenty of time to talk when she’s napping, in bed, in the car, or during meal times. But, well, we loved this too.

Eventually we decided to head over to our chosen restaurant, a highly recommended Italian place. We opted to sit inside to escape the Festival noises, and enjoyed a much longer and much more expensive dinner than we usually eat. Everything was delicious. And I particularly enjoyed sitting and waiting for the waiter to bring the bill because that meant I wasn’t trying to entertain a Munchkin with a much shorter attention span than her parents.

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After dinner, Dan offered to buy me a frozen lemonade or other treat of my choice. Having spent a lot of money already, I opted for our favorite not too expensive Starbucks drink (I’ll tell you all what that is in a later post). There are three flavors to choose from and (don’t get weirded out), the green one actually tastes the best.

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Our two-hour parking limit was about to run out, so we drove back to a park near the home where Lydia was having the time of her life without us. (For someone who never gets left with anyone, separation anxiety is definitely not a problem for her) We walked a little, and found a picnic table where some child had forgotten his or her stuffed animals. Both of us found it humorous that even without the Munchkin, we were hanging out at a playground.

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So we wrapped up our date chatting away, and sitting in the quiet, enjoying some uninterrupted time together as the sun was just starting to sink in the sky, making everything glow in a way that reflected the happiness of the day. Our third anniversary date was belated, and it wasn’t exactly what we’d planned, but it was absolutely perfect.

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The Date God Planned

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Last week was a rough one for me. Three days of attempted potty training left me behind on laundry, cleaning, and everything else. On top of that, Baby #2 has been gifting us with lots of hormones that make Mommy very emotional. So it was a long, tiring, emotional week.

My sweet husband wanted to do something special for me this weekend and hatched some secret plans while I was getting ready for the day on Saturday. We spent the whole morning out grocery shopping, and came home to a hurried lunch. Afterward, we got back in the car to go visit some friends at the hospital who had a baby on Friday.

Now, to understand my surprise and Dan’s enjoyment of this part of the day, you have to know a little bit about me and directions. I’m not terrible with directions, I just don’t pay attention. If I drive somewhere or see directions on a map or written down, I can get to where I need to go. Mostly though, I just depend on GUPS (which is what we call our GPS). Dan is great with directions and is super independent on top of that, so he would rather get somewhere on his own than use a GPS anyway. So, for that reason and a few others, Dan is the primary driver in our household. And I happily keep him company from my passenger seat, paying little to no attention to where we are going or how we are getting there.

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This brought Dan much delight as we headed to the hospital, passed the hospital exit and kept on going, took a different exit, pulled into a parking lot, and stopped. I thought we were just turning around. So, when Dan asked, “Do you want a brownie?” I was a little confused. Of course, I said, “yes”, because I’ve been craving brownies for the past few weeks, but didn’t understand why he was asking me this, now, and why he parked in the parking lot that wasn’t the hospital. Dan practically had to explain what was going on before I figured out that he has planned to take me to Zingerman’s Bakehouse to get me one of the best brownies in Ann Arbor (according to Google) and spend a little time on a mini-dessert-date before going to visit our friends and their new baby at the hospital. Oh.

Not all plans work out the way we expect, though, and we didn’t actually have time to do anything but buy the brownie and get back in the car. Oh well. I saved it and figured we could eat it together after Lydia went to bed. We visited our friends, the day ended far too quickly, and we tucked Lydia in for the night. We settled down in the living room and shared our brownie and I got ready for a nice long talk. Minutes later, Dan fell asleep and I was left alone on the couch feeling pouty and miserable. Other than the super-delicous brownie, our attempts a date has completely failed (in my late-night-pregnancy-induced-emotional-opinion)

By Sunday, I was able to move beyond my disappointment and enjoy the day. We didn’t get Lydia tucked in to bed until almost 9:00 and sat down to watch just an inning or two of baseball before going to bed early ourselves.

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But then we started talking. And somehow some random questions about baseball and the related commercials turned into our sharing memories from elementary school and high school. After telling stories we’d never told each other before, we marveled at how it was that we ever ended up together. We were SO different. It was one of those happy and confirming moments when you realize that God had worked something out in a way contrary to logical expectation or even our own best plans. An “inning or two” turned into one hour turned which turned into two, and somewhere along there we turned the baseball off anyway. Around midnight we decided that it was far past our bed times.

Somewhere during that conversation I thought to myself,” I feel like we’re on a date”, just like some of the ones when we were getting to know each other before we were married. Only this was better because at the end we got to pray together and go to sleep and wake up, all without having to say goodbye.

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And so, after a long week, and a somewhat failed date-attempt on Dan’s part (except for the successful surprise and the delicious brownie) God blessed us with our own little date-night, unexpected and unplanned. And we both walked away thinking, “I’m going to be so tired tomorrow” but also “We should do this more”. And it’s moments like these that I can’t help but smile, knowing in my head and in my heart that God really is a sweet Father who loves to give us good gifts.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.