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     You don't realize how much you need a purely lovely day until you wake up and it's right there, staring you in the face, inviting you to join the festivities. And today was that day. Despite having our family birthday party for him last weekend, Isaac's birth father suggested that we take Isaac for his actual birthday, which is today. Grateful for any extra second we get to spend with him, I promptly took the day off of work so that I could enjoy some needed one-on-one time with my little guy, doing the things that he loves to do. To top things off, today is not only Isaac's 1st birthday, but it's also the 1-year anniversary of Taylor's adoption. So, after sleeping in (just a little), I leisurely made my way downstairs and began prepping dinner and dessert for this evening... Taylor's favorite food is spaghetti, so I made a delicious spaghetti bake with glazed lemon pound cake to enjoy afterward. I felt very maternal and (gasp) organized as I did my prep work in the kitchen before the sun was yet awake. I EVEN multi-tasked by practicing the piano and choosing this week's worship songs as the meat browned the the smell of lemony goodness wafted towards me from the oven. I felt like writing, I felt like reading, and I didn't even feel like I needed a nap first! Having the house to myself, taking time away from work, and feeling productive doing things that I actually wanted to do, I realized an important thing: I was starting to feel like myself again. Actually, I was starting to feel like a better version of myself. (Afterall, that lemon cake was starting to smell way better than my old self! The aroma was so delicious, it had to be that of a Shivonne 2.0.)
     The next stage of this truly fantastic day was seeing my sweet boy's face as he came through the door in Pat's arms. Not having to wait an entire week to see him again was like magic. His big, toothy grin and slobbery kisses were all I needed to know that this day was going to keep getting better. As he crawled around, laughing at everything and playing with the balloons left over from his birthday party last weekend, we got our bags packed to head to the YMCA. (No, we had no intentions of working out... that's a task for Shivonne 3.0.) Instead, we headed to Isaac's favorite thing in the world.... the pool. If all babies like water, then THIS baby is a maniac for it! He'll splash anything he can from the shower, to the dog's water, to the toilet. Give this kid some water and you'll watch him go bonkers! And that's exactly what he did. We enjoyed 3 hours of splishing and splashing as Little Man made his way from pool to pool, saying "hi" to everyone he met, and laughing so much that he was easily the main attraction at the Y today. Chubbiness aside, I think he may actually turn into an excellent swimmer... he has, literally, no fear of the water, and he is willing to shove his face straight under without bothering to cry.... he pops his little head back up and there's nothing but smiles all over his wet face. He even naturally began to paddle his arms when Pat was holding him on his belly, moving him across the pool. Isaac was in his glory and so was this Mama.
     After a short nap, the kids arrive home from school and it was time to get the rest of the dinner finished. We had grandparents arriving to help us celebrate, so we tidied up while the kids entertained the baby with his new birthday toys. Together, we enjoyed a lovely meal as Taylor gobbled down her spaghetti bake and Cameron gagged down some salad. Even Baby Isaac discovered that spaghetti may very well be his new favorite food, just like Sissy! We scarfed down our dessert and then remembered something.... our beautiful day was ending. It was time for Isaac to go back home.
     Taylor began crying and I began getting irritable once again. As I shoved pots and pans back in their places and busied myself with the task of cleaning up from dinner, snapping at Cameron and Taylor as the arguing began once again, I realized that the gratefulness I had felt earlier this morning was being replaced by bitterness. If Isaac was ours, we wouldn't have to say goodbye week after week... we would know that we would get EACH birthday with him and not just hope for a weekend at a time. If I didn't have to go back to work tomorrow, I wouldn't have to do all these stupid dishes right now... I could sit down and do something to help me feel better about Isaac leaving. If this... If that... If only life were perfect... If only I were perfect...
     Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones. Maybe it's just the stressors of life. Whatever it is... it has to go. I am helpless to change these circumstances I feel so burdened by, which I know is part of the problem. (Feeling helpless is soooo Shivonne 1.0.) The circumstances will never be perfect, my life will never be perfect, and I (most certainly) will never be perfect. So once again, I find myself reaching for that hope that sometimes gets lost under piles of laundry and in tearful goodbyes. And I remind myself that today was a purely lovely day, and that each day must come to an end. Tomorrow may be more lovely or less lovely than the previous day, but it is still another day where hope will find me (because sometimes I'm too weak to do the searching).