Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy "Da" Day!

One year ago today was a day that changed our lives! The Judge said "Da" and the rest was history! Yeah!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Children are like a box of chocolates....

Today we took Charlie for another speech evaluation, this time through the school system. It was a complete battery of tests, also testing for developmental delays as well. Turns out, my son is a genius. Yup. I knew it. Now it's just officially on paper. It always surprises me the amount of knowledge tucked away in that little brain. When a question is asked that I think is out of his league, I am always pleasantly surprised. 
Thank goodness he did qualify for speech services, so now we can have FREE LOCAL help! Yippeee! We'll go twice a week for speech therapy. 
Thinking back to the little boy I meet almost two years ago in an orphanage, I can honestly tell you the child today is not the same withdrawn, sad little boy. When we returned a year later, his dislike towards us had only magnified. I was talking with my mother in law tonight quite a bit about it. Now don't stop reading when I make my next proclamation. Either you'll agree 100% or you'll think I am some kind of religious nut. (Which I can assure you I am not....)There is no other explanation than a direct intervention from God. I know what you're thinking. But if you could have SEEN Charlie in the orphanage. He was so angry. Despite our best efforts, he never cracked a smile. He rocked himself back and forth. From years of anxiety, he had sucked his thumbnail clean off his finger. He would literally see us coming and hide. When we tried to hold him, he arched his back or became stiff as a board. His eyes would well up in tears. Being with us caused him physical pain. It caused my heart more pain than you could imagine. 
We thought We KNEW that the months following our return home would be an uphill battle. Not only did he not love us, he couldn't tolerate the site of us. How were we suppose to remove this child from his "home" when he wouldn't let us remove him from his work table. I knew in my head that this child wasn't suppose to love us or even like us right away, but that didn't mean my heart didn't hurt by the fact that I couldn't even pick him up without a struggle. 
So, A-day. Adoption day. Charlie is dressed hastily by three workers and literally thrust out the door, into the VW bug. He cried. For about a minute. Then he cuddled up against my chest, breathed a sigh of relief, and fell into the most peaceful sleep. We drove a few more hours. When we arrived our host family's house, he woke up, looked around and smiled. He crossed the threshold of the door and never stopped smiling. He ran, he laughed, he sat in my lap. He talked about "mama" and "papa". I just starred in disbelief. It was literally as if a light switch had been turned on. 
Now, I am not telling you Charlie is perfect. He's not. We have our "talks" our time outs and our temper tantrums. But, Lord have mercy, I'm telling you....THIS is a different child. There are so many things about this adoption that has made me believe in miracles. God still performs them on a regular basis in the adoption world. If you want to see the face of God, be part of adoption. Only God can change a person's heart so completely and so drastically. Only God can make a way through the wilderness (also known as middle of nowhere, Russia...) Only God can take heartache so profound and turn it into something so beautiful. 
Children are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. We were prepared for the worst. With God's grace, we got the very best. 
This time last year, we were in Russia. Preparing for court in 3 days. Not really sure if this would end in heartbreak or homecoming. But more on that to come....
My sad little guy...

My JOYFUL boy!

Smiley Boy

So precious....Jack is smiling all the time now. (Well, except when he wakes up from sleeping apparently perishing from lack of food, or so he thinks...)
So funny! I love that cute toothless grin!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Carpe Diem

For all you tired Mama's out there, this is a great (and pretty darn funny) article from Glennon Melton, who blogs on "Momastery" . Follow the link and check her out. Anyway, this post is EXACTLY how I have been feeling lately!
Every time I'm out with my kids -- this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, "Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast."
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy everysecond, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn't work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life - while I'm raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I'm not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: "Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast."
At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn't find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, "Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you."
That's not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, "No. but I love having written." What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, "Are you sure? Are you sure you don't mean you love having parented?"
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I'm being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times -- G, if you can't handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?
That one always stings, and I don't think it's quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it's hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she's not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn't add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it's so hard means she IS doing it her own way...and she happens to be honest.
Craig is a software salesman. It's a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don't ever feel the need to suggest that he's not doing it right, or that he's negative for noticing that it's hard, or that maybe he shouldn't even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he's ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: "This career goes by so fast...ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!"
My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn't enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn't in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn't MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I'd wake up and the kids would be gone, and I'd be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here's what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
"It's helluva hard, isn't it? You're a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She's my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime." And hopefully, every once in a while, I'll add -- "Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up -- I'll have them bring your groceries out."
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn't work for me. I can't even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here's what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It's regular time, it's one minute at a time, it's staring down the clock till bedtime time, it's ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it's four screaming minutes in time out time, it's two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there's Kairos time. Kairos is God's time. It's time outside of time. It's metaphysical time. It's those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I'm doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can't hear her because all I can think is -- This is the first time I've really seen Tish all day, and myGod -- she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I'm stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I'm haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I'm transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I'll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world's mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don't remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.
Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.
Good enough for me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grow babies grow...

Did someone put miracle grow in our water? My first baby has outgrown toddler shoes and is now in a BOYS size 11. Snifff...snifff....
And my second baby is a giant and doesn't fit in any of his "3 month" winter clothes. I had to order a new snowsuit for him because the once giant sized "home from the hospital" bear suit won't fit around his shoulders anymore. AND he rolled from his tummy to his back last week! He hasn't done it again since then, maybe it was a fluke. But still, you should see this kid's muscles!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Please help!

Please take just a moment to sign the Petition to keep the Adoption Tax Credit for 2012-2013 alive. Right now there is a tax credit to help offset the HUGE cost of adoption, both domestically and internationally. Over on the right hand side of this blog is a link that will take you right to the petition.
Here is a blurb from the website, that explains it better than I could, since I can't use big words anymore. Every signature is important and helps give hope to potential adoptive families and children that otherwise, would never find a home.

Why This Is Important

The average cost to adopt a child is any where from $25k- $35k or more. Currently, for the 2011 Tax Year Adopting families are eligible for:
• A maximum of $13,170 for 2011 returns
• Fully refundable as long as the adoption is initiated in 2011 or before, and finalized before the end of 2012 (domestic) or was finalized in 2011 (international)
But in 2012 the Tax Credit is going to change:
• A maximum of $12,170 for 2012 returns only
The 2012 Tax Credit will not be refundable for adoptions initiated after 2011, which means a large number of families may not be able to get any of the $25k- $35k back and possibly prevent people from adopting a child at all.
In 2013 it all goes away, no tax credit at all.
We are petitioning to extend the tax credit as currently stated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, so that more money is available to families allowing them provide a financially stable home to the adopted child.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Be a Match!

As we just got home from Jack's 2 month appointment, the doctors and nurses kept commenting on how healthy and beautiful Jack is. I couldn't agree more :0)
He has grown 3 inches (now 22") and now weighs 12 pounds, 13 ounces. Wow! Big boy! Before the "weigh in" I guessed 11 lb, 6 oz. and Chad guessed 14lbs. I guess we'll split the difference! Either way, we feel so thankful that Jack is progressing the way he should. On the way home, I couldn't help thinking about those little angels that aren't as healthy.
When we got home, I was getting my coupons ready for this afternoon's grocery run and was checking out my favorite site ( and there was an article about becoming a bone marrow donor. You can read the article HERE.
It just hit me that THIS is what I need to do. It only took about 5 minutes to sign up. Basically, you need to be between 18 and 44 and be in good health. They send you a swab kit in the mail, test it, and put you on a registry. Then you wait for a match.
If you sign up during the month of January, American Express will donate $100 to the "Be A Match Registry" which will cover the lab costs for your test. After that- there is no cost at all if you are ever matched. You can read more FAQ HERE
Right now, there are 10,000 people waiting for a match and only 5,000 will ever get one. I can't help but think about if my role was switched and I (Or Charlie or Jack) were the 5,000 that never got a match. It just made me think that this little gift (5 days of medication and an afternoon in the hospital IF I ever am a match....) could save a little persons or big person's life. It's a small gift.
In the meantime, thank you Lord for the two beautiful, healthy boys in my life. Thank you for the selfless gift of two women, one I know and one I don't. Thank you for allowing me to be their mommy. My cup runneth over. Please allow me to give this gift of health back just a little to someone else. Amen. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Two Birds, One Stone

This morning we had our first "Post-Jack" placement home study and our second "Post-Charlie" home study. Turns out sometimes the stars do align and we were able to have two studies done in one appointment. I would say that meant I only had to clean my house once, but that would be a lie since cleaning my house now consists of moving large items from the middle of the floor and making sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink. That's cleaning, right?
I never made it to Charlie's room to pick up and OF COURSE the child wants to show the social worker his Christmas tree. Thank goodness she made it out alive, especially since Charlie insists on the fully effect: Gather in the center of the room, turn out the lights, stumble his way to the tree, press the button, turn on the lights, stand back and say "ohhhhh", then turn them off and then you're on your own finding your way out. 
But everytime we accomplish one of these feats and the door closes, we breath a sigh of relief. One step closer to being done with the hoops and one step closer to being the regular family we already feel like. Notice I didn't say "normal" family :0)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I know...I know

Merry Christmas!

Jack the Stocking Stuffer!
Ok, I know. It's been a long, long, while. I never really understood why people in blog world couldn't update their blog in a timely manner. Turns out, I underestimated the fact that Jack has radar that goes off when a computer is powered on. Radar that screams "Feed Me!" "Change Me!" "Rock Me!" at the instant any on switch is turned on. Like his on switch is connected to my on switches. 
Charlie meets Mr. and Mrs Mouse!

Jack by the bear..awwww

Charlie in love!

Or the fact that life with two children is A LOT more hectic than life with one. People that told me "having two isn't really that much more work, you are doing the work anyway..." LIES. Work has not only been added to, but increased ten fold. My washing machine is crying for a vacation.
And the sleep...or should I say lack of sleep. Friendly people keep saying "you need to keep him up during the day!" As if. We could set off a nuclear bomb in our living room and this child would sleep right through it. At night, if you clear your throat- well that's a different story. I look old and ugly.
So, enough of my complaining. (Just letting you know that this is HARD WORK!)
Christmas was AWESOME! Charlie just about peed his pants when he saw his giant bear. He kept saying "this for me too???" because we just put his gifts under the tree and had ours across the room. He loved every  minute of it. Then we went to church and celebrated the true meaning of the season. We are still moving toys around trying to make room for his haul. Jack pretty much slept through the whole thing, but like clockwork enjoyed the glow of the Christmas tree and bonanza of gifts AFTER midnight.
We decided we really wanted to have Jack baptized on January 1st. We decided to make the trip to North Florida to have Chad's dad do the ceremony. And since we were in North only made sense to keep on truckin' down to central Florida to have Charlie meet Mickey Mouse, since that's where our other sets of parents live. So we hitched a ride with my parents in their R.V. on the way down. That way we could stretch out, change diapers, heat bottles, etc. What use to take 9 hours.....We made it in a record 13 hours. Oi.  But we made it and had the BEST time.
Wednesday- Disney. This probably deserves it's own post, but for the time being....Charlie was a trooper- We were planning on bringing Jack at least for a few hours and then my mom and dad were going to leave with him since they are season pass holders, but when we woke up it was really cold and windy. Chad's mom graciously offered to keep him at home. Charlie walked/ran through the park from 10am till 11pm and was happy the whole time. No melt downs for this boy! He really wanted to go to the "Scary House" aka- Haunted Mansion. I was really nervous about freaking him out on the ride, but he kept insisting that he "wasn't scared" so we went. He loved it. What a brave boy.
Thursday we had Christmas #2 with Chad's parents. Then we got together with all my old friends from High School, many of which I hadn't even met their kids! It was the first time any of them had met Charlie or Jack! What a special time. I am so thankful for these wonderful women in my life and their equally wonderful spouses.
Friday we introduced the boys to three of their cousins and had a great time. That night we went to Ice at Gaylord Palms Hotel. It was pretty impressive- tons of carved ice that you walk through, slide down. But it was WAY too crowded and we felt a little like cattle the whole night. And Charlie felt as if he needed to counter balance his exemplary Disney behavior with truly awful behavior. So as you can imagine, between the -9 weather, the crowds and my possessed child a good time was had by all.
Then Saturday, we saw Chad's cousins perform at Downtown Disney and then it was off to North Florida for  baptism and Christmas #3 with Chad's dad and Step mom. Monday, we drove home.
It was an insane week. We had a wonderful time, but boy. What a haul.
Oh...add in our second post adoption report due January 2nd and SURPRISE! Our social worker wanting to come THIS Thursday for our second post Charlie report and first post Jack report. No pressure. It's not like we just came home from a week long excursion with more baby supplies than a baby super store scattered throughout our house....So, washing machine, suck it up cause it's going to be a hoppin' in our house over the next few days.
So, that's what we've been up to. Sorry if this post is a little scattered- I started it 4 hours ago and typed here and there, Jack and Charlie permitting. :0)
I promise I will get better at posting on a more timely manner!!! New Year resolution #1.