the next thing

This year has been one of many surprises.

It began with the completion of a rough draft accompanied by a somewhat drawn out revision process (don’t get me started). Then the news that we were going to be a family of six (the biggest and best surprise of all). And then finally, this summer when we realized that we might have to fly back to the US for new visas–making that two trips in one year.

And that brings us to today.

Tonight I’m getting on an airplane, however only half of me will be on the trip. Katie and I will be leaving India and heading to the US so I can prepare for the birth number 4 at the end of November. It’s strange, to say the least, leaving our other boys behind–the hubs, Jack and Ben. And for the past few days I have to stop myself from getting overwrought with emotion and focus on doing the next thing we know to do.

Because this is hard.

And I know there are going to be tough days and good days for us all. And my tendency is to want to have control of the situation– but I can’t have it, so I have to let go. So I’m praying for peace and doing the next thing even when I don’t understand everything that God is doing through our circumstances.

Thankfully, the boys will be joining us later in November. We pray I make it to my due date so they can be there. But who knows? There have been so many surprises so far, who’s to say we won’t have a few more in store.

So we press on. Not because we have everything figured out, but because we know there is a bigger plan we can’t see. And because we have come through so much already, we know there is something greater being worked out here and we can trust God has everything under his control.

Still. I have to force myself from moment-to-moment to cling to truth or I’m easily swept away by anxious thoughts. They come easily for me. It’s that whole control thing I struggle with constantly. My hope for this time apart is that I can have some serious bonding time with my daughter; finish these edits (need that off my back!); and give myself room to rest and breathe and time with people who love and care about me.

So the next thing is make it through the airport drop-off without a deluge of tears. We shall see.



birthday blues

We asked our sweet almost six-year-old what he wanted to do for his birthday– a party at McD’s, perhaps? But alas, he wanted his birthday at home with his friends. So we decided to switch things up a bit: we invited only school friends (to meet some new people) and we did the party on a week-night, which was his actual birthday. Sounds simple enough, right?

I made the invites, he chose the friends he wanted to come and all was well. Everyone had a week to RSVP. However, by the date given for the RSVP I began to get nervous. Only a small number had replied and so far it had only been the girls, which made up about half the list. Well, that day came and went so I asked Ben to ask some of his classmates. Why did I do this you ask? Does a five-year-old asking another five-year-old really know what his parents are planning? I should have known of course they would all say they were coming, but I chose  optimism instead of my usual go-to-move which is realism.

The day of the party came. I am currently approaching 34 weeks pregnant and very uncomfortable, but for him I persevered through an uncooperative sciatic nerve and worked all day cooking, game-making and trying to have everything perfectly vegetarian for our guests, something I would have never even considered in the US, but it’s a must here.

By party time everything was ready and our first guest arrived. A sweet girl who doesn’t know a word of English. Ben adores her and they are good friends even though she’s a head taller than him. Then, forty-five minutes later, the next guests arrived. Yes, forty-five minutes and several mosquito bites later (we were standing on the porch and outside the gate looking for party-people) another girl from his class and her twin brother who is in another class showed up. Then soon another girl or two– all dressed to the nines for an Avengers birthday party. They looked more like they had dressed for a Barbie or Disney Princess party.

I started to panic. We played a game involving Captain America’s shield. I panicked some more. Where were the boys? Where was his best friend that he had wanted there so badly? Why did these kids look at me like a bunch of deer in headlights when I was trying to be fun and engaging? Panic had set in indeed.

I decided we should eat some dinner since it was now past seven and our American bellies were growling. The hubs and I started making plates of food to give to the kids– just pasta, sauce, fruit salad and veggies with dip. The first child said no thanks and it was a domino effect after that. I should have gone for the deep-fried nuggets and potato Smiles that everyone else serves at these things. Rookie mistake.

Utterly defeated by this point (and wondering how the five of us were going to eat an entire pot of elbow macaroni) we moved on in my well-crafted-kid-party program. I pulled out the shortbread cookies, colored icing and sprinkles. Like everything else, the cookies all started crumbling before we could get the icing on. One child dressed like a small bride refused purple icing, along with everything else. Truly, I did not understand these children.

By this time parents had started showing up to collect their children–yay! We hurriedly put candles on the cake and sang a Happy Birthday to our special boy. He looked happy. I was still in panic mode, but I willed myself to enjoy the moment. The kids did eat cake–the white part at least. Some weren’t sure about the layer I had tinted blue so they left it. Then, one mom couldn’t believe her kids had not eaten anything else, started asking the other kids if they were hungry and for some reason they all decided now was the time, after dessert, that dinner sounded better. Some ate a little– at this point I just wanted it over. I didn’t dare mention the last game involved popping balloons. Neither did the hubby. We were done.

Two hours from start to finish, but there were moments that felt like an eternity. The parents all showed up and I learned to never have a birthday party on a week-night with people you don’t know, especially when you are very pregnant and when RSVP means call only if you can come since most people don’t like to tell you no. The last guest left so he opened his gifts, took some photos and said goodnight to the birthday boy who said he’d had a fine birthday and seemed genuinely happy.

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday’s Not-So-Deep Thoughts

Sitting down today with a cup of tea in one of my favorite tacky coffee mugs, I see that I completely neglected the month of September. I love September, nothing against it at all. But I just didn’t have it in me to blog or even check the stats. I didn’t actually write much at all in any form which lets me know that something is going on internally– just what exactly I still haven’t figured out.

But I’m back to blogging at least for today. I suppose I should since someone from Nigeria just checked it and the post on the homepage is a bit old. I figure if you’re going to go to the trouble of looking at my blog from Nigeria I ought to do a better job at keeping it up-to-date. We’ll see if I can swing it for October.

So there’s a ton going on right now. Isn’t that always the case? Just most of it isn’t exactly interesting to everyone outside my close circle of family and friends. Unexpected travel plans, painful conversations, and question marks galore seems the way of it– not exactly blog-o-rrific stuff. Because if you’re like me when you open your computer you have a limited amount of time to spend there and  you don’t just want  entertainment, you want to be moved, stirred into action, mentally stimulated, feel like you’re more connected. Right? You’re probably not so interested in the naval-gazing of a woman in her mid-thirties who is still trying to figure out what in the world she’s doing with her life. Not that the old navel looks exactly the same in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy #4. Still. If you’re like me right now, you want more substance not fluff in your life.

So I’ve stewed over this idea during the past month (I’ve stewed quite a bit all around). How do make this blog a bit more substantive and worth your time? How to be authentically me and helpful in some way? And I have to say that I’m coming up nil, though my desire is to use my words to make some sort of difference in the world–which is what I think most women I know want on some level.

And as for the fiction writing, well, Little Miss Perfection is stuck in another rut and her Steady Eddie Charging Right Along Husband wonders how to motivate her. If you or someone you know is a perfectionist (an INFP type of personality) you know what I’m talking about. If you are the spouse to said perfectionist and have lived to see the end of a large, lingering project maybe you can start a support group and ask my husband to join. Please.

So the goal for October is simple– to find the Muse again (read The War of Art if you don’t know what I’m talking about). To write more and think less (trust me it’s better this way). And to look for inspiration in news places since the old ones feel too familiar and tapped out at the moment. Any suggestions?

Where do you find inspiration for creative endeavors? And how do you keep the creative juices flowing when they feel like they’ve dried up? Inquiring minds want to know.