Burnout and a New Season

Our Tiny Princess Annie has been with us more than half a year. Last month marked six months of loving this beautiful girl.

Speaking of beautiful girl.

Can you believe how much Miss Cece has grown up?  
Maybe it's the fact that her hair has grown so long but she is looking so much older to me.  She still keeps us on our toes, and keeps us laughing.  She is an absolute joy...and at the same time can drive me insane.  It's a paradox I'll never quite figure out.  

Miss Cece is very happy that it's Christmas time again.

We didn't hold off too long on putting up the tree.  As soon as our Canadian holiday "Remembrance Day" was over we switched into Christmas season mode.   We usually let the kids put on the ornaments, which are an eclectic assortment of homemade treasures and things that have been collected over the years.  I can tell our kids have grown taller because more than just the bottom half of the tree is decorated.  Making memories.

We're still soaking up time with this little treasure, and thanking God for each day.  I don't know that a baby has ever been so adored, loved, and doted on in the history of mankind.  Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating.  But seriously though.  If it were possible to spoil a baby, we would have wrecked her with love.  Fortunately it just means she is a very secure, and happy baby. 

 When time is cut short you tend to take nothing for granted.  That and she has five siblings who pretty much think the sun rises and sets with her smile.  

We're not totally sure when our final goodbye will be, but we're thankful to have some Christmas memories made with this black eyed beauty. 

7 months!  
Oh my, how far we've come baby. 

Annie is a little fire cracker. She is determined, ambitious, curious, energetic, and radiantly cheerful.  She has an incredibly sweet and content disposition.  Just a happy baby who always has somewhere to go and something to investigate.  She's a petite little girlie but she's crazy strong.  Already changing her is like a rodeo event.  

This year the heavy layer of snow brought with it a sense of rest.  Or at least being able to breathe.  Work has finally slowed down a bit on the farm.  The yard work and garden is done. The Hubster is home longer in the mornings, gets home earlier for supper, is around for putting kid bedtime, and is "on call" as back up parent when our schedule gets crazy and we need to run kids around to appointments.  That has given me a fresh bounce in my step.   

Honestly, I think I hit a wall a couple weeks ago.  Exhaustion climaxed to a whole new level and I was ready to tap out...physically, emotionally, relationally.  
I just wasn't on my game, and Mama has to be on her game.

 Since then, I've been trying hard to do some "self care"....which for me simply means intentionally working to keep this body, mind, and spirit in as healthy a condition as possible (as far as it depends on me) so I can keep up with my crazy awesome life.  "Self care" is a topic that I tend to avoid simply because it can so easily become selfishness...and I know I don't need any help to become more lazy or selfish! That and I'm naturally a "low maintenance" kind of girl.  I'm trying to figure out what authentic, Christ centred, others focused, "self care" looks like.  Part of it is figuring out where I need to be better equipped and seeking out wisdom where I need it. Maybe I'll have to mull it out in a blog post someday.  Even Jesus pulled away from the crowd on occasion. 

I think it has helped.  I feel like I have a better attitude, and a little more energy anyhow.

Our family hit the ground running when we got home from Baja last spring and we haven't stopped to take a breath since.  Our trip south last winter was amazing and so filled with great memories but restful and rejuvenating it certainly was not.  A two month long road trip/ living in a camping trailer with 7 people in Baja Mexico is not so much a "vacation" as it is a slightly ridiculous adventure.  Then came a newborn preemie, and a very long busy season.  

Now that I think about it its been an insane couple years.  It has almost been two years since we left for China.

We had all started feeling the burnout.  Juggling schedules, work, school stuff, special needs parenting, home, and the ever present doctor, therapy, specialist, and dental appointments has kept us busier than we like to be.  We intentionally keep our "extra curricular" activities limited to prevent this from happening...but somehow it happened anyway. That's just life with six kids with various special needs and health considerations.  

So right now, we are trying to catch our breath, catch up on a few house projects (because this old house seems to be falling apart around us) and spend a little bit of time at home together as a family.  Some time to reconnect outside of the usual rush.  

I am so thankful right now for the beginning of "slow season".  Or at least "slower" season.  

My Hubby and I actually went on a real date! It had been over 6 months since we had eaten a meal out together.  We spent a whole day together in the city.  Well, we did have a baby for most of that time but when you have six kids reducing the number to one seems like a vacation.  

With the gently falling snow came a sense of peace.  No matter how much I fret about life, no matter how much I dislike winter....this world just keeps turning on it's axis and God's in control of all of it.  There's no changing the seasons, and some seasons you just merely have to endure.  Such as a Saskatchewan winter. There's always beauty to be found somewhere. 

I'm intentionally trying to cling to this sense of peace despite our crazy "normal" and so much unpredictability.   
Foster parenting is something I both love doing and despise at the same time.  It's impossible for fostering not to carry a certain burden of sorrow and brokenness because those things made it necessary in the first place.  I love the kids and the families involved, I hate the situations that make it necessary. 

I can't really actually explain how I can love it and hate it at the same time.  Maybe it's similar to when I used to run long distances competitively.  It was hard.  The training was a lot of work. The races caused extreme discomfort and stress....but yet I kept doing it.  

It's strange how something can be completely life draining and incredibly life giving at the same time.  

Maybe that's the Gospel story in this messy, imperfect, broken world of foster care....there is no new life without death.  With this life as a foster parent comes the constant reminder that "this is not how it was designed to be", and I feel myself join in the groaning, the agony, and the waiting for ultimate redemption to be birthed.  Longing for every tear to be dried.  

Maybe I'm just plain crazy.
That's entirely possible.  

Maybe it takes a whole lot of "crazy" to willingly venture into those hard places. 
Whatever it is I'm pretty sure that God threw me into the deep end with this one and I'm in way over my head. There is no such thing as tidying up loose ends, there's just raw and ragged.  

Just don't ever tell me "God doesn't give you more than you can handle", because that's a huge steaming pile of bovine pucky.   

I gave up trying to "handle" things a long time ago. 

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