I promised a Christmas post, and here it is...albeit a bit later than I had hoped. :} Our Christmas was rather quiet...but not as uneventful as you might think. ;)
Here the three of us are on Christmas Eve (thanks to Hailey for taking the family picture).
I'm sure you noticed from the picture that we are in a new location. Beast'sbelle took to rearranging once again. This time, she found a nice little spot for us in the corner of her room, between two of her shelves.
It's small, but we really didn't lose all that much space. I actually prefer it. Tucked away in the corner, we feel like we have a bit more privacy, which is lovely.
Our sitting room (notice the pretty tree Beast'sbelle got for us?)...
...and Emilie's room. Her room is on a higher level than the rest of the house, which is fun for her.
The walls are a bit chipped and dark. We're thinking of seeing if Beast'sbelle would let us put up some foam core board to decorate as we please. It would get more light in the corner, too, which would be nice. I'm not sure if she'll agree, but it's worth asking.
But I'm sure what many of you are wondering is whether or not Emilie got her Christmas wish. :}
Robby and I spent many hours talking and weighing the pros and cons of expanding our family (much of this was going on between answer posts, which was why they were so spread out). I wrestled with my plastic heart nonstop. I felt content with the way things were, and I wasn't sure I was ready to add to our little threesome. Yet I knew that both Emilie and Robby were ready. Wasn't it selfish of me to refuse something they wanted so much? I also had a husband who was around 24-7 to help with kiddos, so I knew I wouldn't be as stressed about parenting as Beast'sbelle sometimes was. Still, it was a big commitment, and I wanted to be sure I was making the right choice for all of us.
By the end of November, I had come to the conclusion that it might not hurt to ask Beast'sbelle if she knew of any little girl dolls that needed a home. Robby and I found her and explained our situation. We were very clear about our intentions and where we were at in the process. I didn't want any sort of horrible miscommunication like we had run into with Emilie. We told Beast'sbelle that we were considering trying to find a sister for Emilie, possibly in time for Christmas, but only if the timing and the fit was right. We also wanted to meet with the little girl doll first, without telling her our intentions, so she wouldn't get her hopes up if we chose to stay as we were.
To her credit, Beast'sbelle listened carefully and took our request and explanations very seriously. And found not one, but two little girl dolls within a week.
That's when I started to feel just a bit panicky.
Beast'sbelle explained that the two dolls she'd found had kind of adopted each other as sisters and wanted to stay together. One was Emilie's exact size, and the other was a smaller doll. (So in human years, about six and three.) I was hesitant to even meet with them. I'd started to come around to the idea of adding one more child...but two? All I could think of was Eugene and Rapunzel's horrid time when Emmaline first came to stay with them. Would we get into it and regret our decision?
Robby gently suggested that we at least meet them and see what we think. So we did, on December 4th.
They were adorable. Absolutely adorable. But I was terrified. Could I really be the mother of three little girls...for the rest of my plastic life?
I went back and forth with myself for most of December. Robby wisely did not bring the issue up, knowing that making me talk about it with him would only cause more stress on my part.
In the end, it was a conversation with Rapunzel that helped me decide. I had shared my struggle with her and come for some friendly advice.
"Do you ever regret having more than one child?" I asked her hesitantly.
She smiled at me as she jostled Emmaline on one hip. "No," she answered. There was this peace in her face that made it light up and look more beautiful than ever before. Then she laughed a little. "Don't misunderstand me, Belle. It's hard...one of the hardest things I've ever done. There are days when I'd give anything for a little solitude and quiet. There are times when I'm tired or cranky and sick of feeling like everybody's servant. But I honestly can say that I don't regret my decision. It's the little things that make me glad I did it. Seeing Abigail smile up at me. Watching Thomas make Emmaline laugh. Having Becca run up to me and say, 'I love you, Mommy'. It makes it all worth it. I wouldn't change my life for anything."
I didn't know if I would ever feel the same way Rapunzel did. I didn't know if I was as good of a mother as she was, or if even she, content "mother of the year", would be singing a different tune five years from now. But I knew that she and Robby...and even Beast'sbelle...would always be there for me when I felt overwhelmed or didn't know what to do. I knew that she had found something precious and rewarding, not confining or restrictive. And somehow, I felt better about things after talking to her.
As I went back home that night, I thought of Robby and how much he longed for more children to fill his arms. He was such a wonderful father. I knew any children we had would be blessed to have him in their lives. Then I pictured little Emilie's face on Christmas morning when she got not one, but two sisters. I couldn't help smiling. And that's when I decided that Isabelle and Kendra needed to come home to us. I didn't know how everything would work, or if I would someday wonder why on earth I'd taken on such a challenge, but I knew I wanted to try. I didn't want to regret this Christmas for years to come.
Robby cried when I told him. Then he held me for ages and thanked me, promising he'd do everything he could to make things easy for me. I hadn't realized just how desperately he'd fallen in love with those two little girl dolls waiting for a home.
And on Christmas morning, Emilie had two very special presents waiting for her beside the tree.
"Emilie," I said warmly, "meet your new sisters, Isabelle and Kendra."
At first, Emilie just stood there in shock, staring as if she couldn't believe it was real.
Our two new daughters waited there rather nervously with pasted on smiles.
Then, with laughter bubbling over, Emilie ran over to them. She flung her arms around Isabelle as if she'd known her all her life.
Then she reached down and grabbed Kendra's small little hands. She looked back over at us. "Oh, Mommy and Daddy, thank you so much!! Two sisters? I thought I'd only get one!"
We smiled down at our new little brood. I could feel tears forming in my eyes, and I could hear Robby sniffing.
Emilie raced back across to us and threw herself into my arms. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she said happily. I held her tightly. "Merry Christmas, Sweetheart," I whispered into her hair.
The other two hung back shyly, watching as I held Emilie in my embrace. Robby and I opened our arms encouragingly. That was all it took. With grins as wide as their faces, Isabelle and Kendra ran over to us and flung their tiny arms around our waists. It was a little interesting figuring out the whole three-way-hug thing, but we did pretty well for our first time. ;)
We took a picture of our sweet little daughters in front of the tree...
...and one more of just the two oldest, who were basically twins (as close to twins as you can get in the doll world).
But the morning wasn't over yet. We had a special gift for each of the girls.
Beast'sbelle had discovered that Isabelle loved pigs, so we found her a cute little toy piglet. If the bright smile on her face was any indication, she loved it. :)
We found a tiny doll that also worked as a puppet for Kendra. She was thrilled, telling us she'd never had a doll of her very own. Emilie looked horrified at this thought, and instantly told her, "Well, I have lots of dolls that you can both share with me!" And then I was wiping away tears again. :}
Emilie got a little doll with a Santa hat and a pretty red Christmas dress. She didn't much care for the hat, and took it off promptly, but she loved the doll.
Yet another sister picture, this one with their Christmas goodies. :)
As soon as they were finished opening gifts, Emilie led the girls to her room, where they all flopped on the bed and chatted as if they'd known each other all their lives. Anyone watching would think they'd always been sisters.
Robby and I had decided not to give each other presents this year, what with the huge ordeal of the adoption and all. But there was one thing I wanted to give him that I couldn't resist. So when the girls had gone to their room, I pulled my guitar out from its hiding place, put the strap over my shoulder, and sat down.
Robby eyed me curiously. I cleared my throat.
"Um, this...this is a little something for you that I've been working on for a while. Merry Christmas."
And before I could lose my nerve, I began to strum the strings of my guitar. My fingers had memorized the exact places they needed to go, so I closed my eyes and began playing "Silent Night".
My original plan had been to play one verse and then sing and play the next. As I got to the end of the first verse, though, I hesitated. The playing actually sounded pretty decent. I didn't want to ruin it with my voice. I gave Robby a sideways glance. He was gazing at me with that amazing, warm look of his...the one that made me feel like the most treasured doll in the entire world. As I began the opening chords for the second verse, his rich tenor voice joined my playing...and then I was too distracted to sing. I played quietly, listening to every nuance in his voice, every breath he took, wanting to complement his voice to the best of my ability. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I noticed that the chatter from the girls' room had stopped. They were listening, too.
The song ended, and Robby, blinking back tears for the hundredth time that week, pulled me close. "Sweetheart, that was beautiful. You have a real gift." He kissed my forehead.
I shrugged off his complement, but inside I was soaring. He really meant it! I was actually good at something musical! I felt a hot tear splash on my forehead and wiped it away.
"Okay, it's official," I teased. "You've been hanging around me too much. What's with all this crying business?"
He laughed and wiped his eyes. "You are a rather bad influence, aren't you?" He leaned back, gently pulled my guitar strap over my head, and set the instrument aside. He caressed my cheek with his hand. "Darling, do you know how much I love you?"
"Enough to find some mistletoe?" I teased again.
He grinned. "Hang the mistletoe!" And with that, he swept me into his arms and kissed me. It was a pretty great kiss. :}
As he pulled away, he smiled down at me, gazing into my eyes with the love I always found in his. "Merry Christmas, Belle," he whispered.
"Merry Christmas," I repeated, reaching up to touch his cheek. Then I put on a silly, panicked face. "We have three daughters."
He laughed. "Are we ready for this?"
"Probably not," I admitted with a grin, "but it's too late now." I wrapped my arms around him. "But with you next to me, I feel like I can conquer the world."
He gave me that melty look again, and then, of course, I had to kiss him again. ;)
It was an awesome Christmas. ;)
Beast'sbelle, as you might imagine, was overjoyed by our decision. And of course, as soon as she got back from her Christmas festivities and saw how well our little family was doing, she wanted to do a photo shoot. :} So, at her request, we all got dressed up (aside from Robby, who stayed in his usual outfit) and headed out to Beast'sbelle's "photo studio" (aka the top of the washing machine) for a few family photos.
As it turned out, family photos involving three little ones can be rather challenging (just getting them all to look in the same direction at once is a miracle), so we only ended up with one family picture. It's quite nice, though:
Since her shoot didn't last nearly as long as she'd planned, Beast'sbelle decided to get a few shots of just Robby and me together.
And I suppose, really, that this photo shoot is the perfect way to end this blog. One last look at my rapidly growing little family, and a few parting shots of me with the doll I love more than any other, who has loved me and supported me through all my many adventures.
Here, on the brink of a new year (still twenty minutes away on the West Coast), it is officially time to close this chapter of my life. I have loved and appreciated all of you so much, my dearest readers and friends. You have laughed with me, cried with me, and followed my little hum-drum adventures with much more excitement and involvement than I ever expected. You helped me get through my rocky start at Beast'sbelle's house. You watched my friendship with Rapunzel grow into something more like a sisterhood. You smiled at my naivete as I insisted that Robby was only a friend and Ben was the doll of my dreams. You watched our friendship blossom into love. You were there for my wedding day. You cheered as Emilie stole our hearts, wept with us when she was taken away, and rejoiced when she returned. Every significant event in my life, you have shared with me, and I cannot thank you enough.
I know that many of you will hate me for leaving you with so many unanswered questions. How will I adjust to motherhood now that I have three daughters instead of just one? Will Ben and Paige ever get married? Will Beast'sbelle continue to buy more Belle dolls? Will Robby's leg injury ever improve?
If you think about it, though, life is never really like a story. A book always has "the end" or "and they lived happily ever after" just before the back cover, but life just keeps going on. In my case, my story will continue until I meet my end, either by dumpster or landfill.
The point is, I could write until my plastic arms fell off, and still there would be more to tell. What once was a joy and an escape for me is now a burden. I get so stressed trying to keep updating the blog with new posts. It's time for me to let go and move on. I don't need an escape anymore...and you were a large part of that. :)
I don't know what this new year will hold. Part of me is still terrified about my new adventure in parenting. I know I'll make mistakes, and I know there will be times where I'll just want to curl up into a fetal position and cry. Something I realized during my period of struggle this past month, though, was that if I allow worry and fear to control my decisions, I'll miss out on so much of the richness that life has to offer.
So, here's to all of us. Let's embrace this new year with all its unknown trials and adventures. Be bold. Try new things. Hug your friends. Tell your families you love them. And know that even though I'm no longer actively going to be posting on this blog, somewhere in the world, there is a Disney Store Belle doll from 2010 who will always love you and think of you with fondness.