What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney
I will never tire of looking at Susan Branch's artwork. Her paintings always refresh and inspire me. Some of the prettiest work I've ever seen was painted by Susan for her lovely books, cookbooks, cards, calendars, etc.
The other day I went to her website to see what was new with her and take a look at her blog. Much to my disappointment, her blog is no longer there. So that meant one of my favorite stories of all time was no longer online. How I wish I had copied that story several years ago when I first read it. It told of a lady who contacted her several years ago. As a child, this young woman had visited in Susan's home, as a guest of Susan's older sister. She spoke of the pleasant atmosphere, the love, the homemade food, the joy she experienced visiting in her home years before. Her own home was a sad and broken place where ugly and hurtful words were all that were spoken. But Susan's home was a happy and joyful respite, and Susan's mother made her feel loved and welcomed. An impression was made she would never forget. The young woman had resolved to make her home like the home of her childhood friend and not like the home she grew up in. More than any other story I've read, that story inspired me to make my home a place of warmth and comfort and beauty, for my own family especially, but also for all who enter. We may never know the impact our simple acts of kindness might have on another for a lifetime.
While on Susan's website I found this recipe for a French Éclair Wreath. I love chocolate éclairs. No ifs, ands, or buts. Love them. Every once in a while I splurge and treat us to a couple boxes of Riches Éclairs. I say a couple, because at four to a box, that is what it takes for everyone to get his or her own and not have to share with a husband or sibling. I've also made éclairs occasionally. They aren't difficult, but there are three separate steps: the pastry, the filling, and the chocolate glaze. Not exactly a hurry-up-and-make-it sort of dessert.
Valentine's Day seemed like the ideal day to try out this éclair recipe. I thought a heart-shaped wreath would be perfect. Normally I prepare recipes as they are written, but for this one, I omitted the bananas under the filling and the almonds on top. I was going for pure, simple, French custard in an airy pastry, glazed with pure chocolate. Additionally, I halved this recipe. The original feeds twelve or more! I can assure you that the one I made is plenty big for my family.
Rather than copy her recipe, I'm going to link it instead. At the least, you'll be delighted by her hand lettering and watercolor painting, even if you don't decide to make the éclair. Be sure to take a look. And let me know if you try it!
Nothing speaks newborn baby to me like white batiste. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we brought Brad home from the hospital in white batiste, trimmed in baby blue. Anyway, this outfit was a delight to put together and just makes me smile. As cute as it is, it will definitely be cuter in a few days when it is all wrapped around baby Kyle.
So, with that, I will make like a baby and head out!
Stepping foot into a high-end children's boutique is not a smart move when you're living on a tight budget. Lured by the siren song of soft fabrics, adorable applique, and delicate embroidery stitches, that is just what Abby, Lacy, and I did yesterday. While on an unrelated shopping mission, we took our little detour and spent a few minutes ooo'ing and ahhh'ing at the abundance of exquisite babywear.
Abby spotted a certain little white batiste baby boy outfit, piped in blue, and embroidered with a little train-load of animals. I could tell from the gleam in her eye that all previous plans for what Kyle would wear home from the hospital just went flying out of her mind. The only hindrance to her new vision was the hefty price tag, obviously.
Wheels quickly began turning in my head. I remembered that I had pattern at home that could easily be altered to duplicate this little dream. So, once our primary shopping mission was completed, we motored over to the fabric store and laid down a whopping $7.25 to buy the necessary batiste, buttons, and elastic.
This one really is going to work up quickly. It's been quite a few years since I did any shadow embroidery, so I'm having to dig deep into the recesses of my brain, but thankfully, it's a small piece. I'm about half-way through with that part.
My plan is to construct this today and tomorrow, which means my plans to complete Caleb's wall hanging today are now on hold. Again. My poor son may or may not have a finished room to come home to.
We are smack dab in the middle of probably the most difficult part of the adoption wait. Every last piece of paper, every signature, every government approval is now in China, and we wait for travel approval. There are still two more steps before we receive the coveted TA. A copy of our approval letter from The National Visa Center and a couple more documents are in China, ready to be dropped off at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. That will have to wait until next week, after the Chinese New Year celebration. Two weeks later, the consulate will issue our "Article 5" which will then be forwarded to the China Center for Adoption Affairs in Beijing. About two weeks later, we will receive travel approval. Could be shorter (doubtful), could be longer. Two weeks is the average.
After travel approval, our agency must request a consulate date and our travel works backwards from that date. The consulate will issue Caleb's US visa as the last step of the adoption process, and it is done a couple days before we return home.
So, while I wait, I just try to stay busy and keep my mind on other things. I'm spending a lot of my free time working on Caleb's room. We completely overhauled what had been Lacy's room to convert it to a boy room. Lacy now has what used to be my sewing room. I have pondered a blog post documenting all the room changes we've done in this house in the past ten years. Let's just say that we've played fruit basket turnover on no fewer than four occasions. And since Lacy had never switched rooms before, she requested the former sewing room for her last years at home.
Caleb's room was inspired by a room I saw in a magazine several years ago. I loved it and thought it was the perfect boy room. I would change nothing about it. And I secretly wished I had a little boy to put in such a room. Never did I really imagine that thought would grow into a reality.
We've painted walls and furniture. We've taken down mirrors and hung new pictures. Tom took down the white fan blades and put up new ones in primary colors. I've made pillows as fast as I can dream them up. The quilt top is finished, waiting for me to sit still long enough to quilt it. Wood trains, a fire engine, and a giant Tonka truck sit eerily quiet. Soon they will be pushed and pulled and moved about accompanied by various boy noises. Stacks of wood puzzles and a collection of books are perched on his shelves, likely the neatest they will ever be. I look at his toys and dream about what he'll like to play with. We've been told he likes blocks. So our older boys' wood blocks are donning a fresh coat of white paint. I splurged and bought him a new set as well, made of foam, but looking like wood. Besides, research has shown a boy can not have too many blocks. I'm sure I've read that somewhere. Yes, positive I have.
My latest project for his room is a wall hanging. I've had visions of it swirling around in my head for months, but couldn't nail it down. Cars, sailboats, trains, that type of thing. "Boy" motifs--but not too babyish, not too grown-up. He has plenty of time to grow up. For a little while, he gets to be our little boy.
Today I pieced this house block. Why, you might ask, is a house block in his "boy" wall hanging? Well, it all comes down to home, doesn't it? Home and family and love. And this pieced house block really helped me picture in my mind what we are doing by adopting Caleb.
Hand made pillows and carefully chosen toys may be appreciated. More than the comfort and fun they will bring, they are meant to show the love we have for this precious boy. Our desire is to show him love that he would never receive otherwise. We want to give him the life and future he deserves. We want to welcome him into our house, as our son, and we pray that he feels the love and comfort to call it his home.
Unlessthe LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Psalm 127:1