The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prettiest Princess Ever and one priceless moment

Okay, I had to post these, even though these for Favorite Photo Friday. I was struggling to figure out what would be my protocol for Favorite Photo Friday, when in reality, my fav photos might get snapped on a Friday... as will likely be the case with Halloween being tomorrow. Anyway, so I decided to include THOSE fav photos in next weeks Friday post. So... Fav. Photo Friday will be Friday through Thursday and I can guiltlessly post photos, knowing tomorrows pics will be for next Friday's post.

Anyway, thank God for digital because at this rate, my hubby would have to take a second job to develop all the film required around here. :) This is not Meg's official Halloween costume, but the other kids were wearing theirs today, so I put her in the princess dress. It was so precious, I might actually have to skip the costume she was going to wear and go with this one. I won't spill the beans on the real costume, in case I decide to unveil it tomorrow! :)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the photos of Brian and Connor learning to write his name, especially the one of just their hands. Ummmph, that one will be priceless in years to come, I can already tell.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Not Me Tuesday????

Wow! Has ANOTHER Monday really come and gone without a Not Me post? I am aware that some of you come looking for it, but whew, life seems to be flying by right now. If the first three months post-adoption seems like you're driving in the right lane and everyone else is in passing mode, then I guess the second three months seems like I've entered the Auto Ban.

You know, something really weird happened. My mom sent me an e-mail about a coincidence that happened between her and another "adoptive grandmother" and in that e-mail, she was saying some things that I had already written for this particular blog post. So I guess there is just coincidence floating around today. Or maybe this one is just stating the obvious, but anyway, here is what my mom and I were both thinking.

I had asked my friend Marina if she would translate some stuff for me to send to the orphanage. I really want to write a letter and send some photos of Meg and just thank them for the excellent care they gave her. Some of the behaviors she has, I know, are inherent in her personality. But some of them are things that she learned from the ladies who cared for her. I honestly can't find one thing I don't like about this child. She's so perfect for our family. Which got me thanking God last night for His infinite wisdom in bringing us together. Which ALSO got me thinking about how much I like to control things and how often I doubt that things are going to work out the way I want them to. I spent hours obsessing over the little girls on that Russian database. Literally, every morning I would wake up, pull up the database on my computer, and pray for each and every little girl in our age range that I thought MIGHT be our daughter. I don't regret praying for these children as I am sure that God heard those prayers and blessed them and me through that process. I would always start by saying, "Good morning girls." :) Anyway, in that process, I fell in love with a few of the little faces. I even had my friend, Marina, call the MOE representative in St. Pete and inquire about one specific child. I absolutely obsessed about which one I thought would be my daughter and which ones I wanted to be my daughter. For whatever reason, Meg's photo was not listed in the group of girls under my search criteria. I don't know if she hadn't been released, if she wasn't categorized correctly on the database or what, but I wasn't able to find her until after I went searching for her once I had my referral. So, in all my praying and falling in love and obsessing, I never even saw a photo or knew of Meg's existence. It just proves, once again, how much more capable God is than I am of controlling the circumstances of life for my good. I mean, as I was praying last night, I just thanked God for how absolutely perfect this child is for our family, how much I love her in every way, how well she fits in and how well she has adjusted (all things considered.) I marvelled, really, at how many details He provided for us that we wouldn't have dreamed were possible. She is more beautiful, healthier, happier, better adjusted, less affected by life in an institution, and more of a personality fit than we ever would have dared ask for.

This is not to say that children who are not healthy, well adjusted, etc. are less of a blessing. We've been that route too. We've done every therapy known to man, I promise. And through those trials, I was blessed too. God brought us so much knowledge, so much patience and stretched us so far with those experiences. I believe we are refined and closer to our God because of all the trying experiences we've had in all three of our adoptions. But for where we are now in our life, it's a breath of fresh air for me that we could have this experience to compare to the others that we have had in the past.

I look at all four of my kiddos, healthy, happy, well-adjusted, and all four of them doing their absolute best at what they do as individuals and I realized that in my wildest dreams, I couldn't have orchestrated a more perfect family for myself. It's beyond what I deserve and beyond what I imagined possible for myself 10 years ago when we were in the throes of infertility. From that darkness, to this light, is 1,000 miles apart and a journey that has blessed me beyond measure.

So what if I'm too busy to post to my blog on time for Not Me Monday! I did not have a successful party last Friday night for Jack's birthday. The weather DID NOT cooperate at the last minute (and once again, proving God could provide better than I could.) I did not have NO access to my computer until last night at 9:00, at which time I was NOT already asleep because I was exhausted. The reason I was exhausted had NOTHING to do with the Monday Night Titans game I had been to the night before and I had NOT stayed out past 11:00 on a school night, GASP! I have not been missing all the action on all the blogs this weekend (due to said internet failure), I did NOT even think about them one single time. I did NOT think about MckMamma over the weekend, knowing her delivery date is oh so near. My mother in law (you know, the Martha Stewart one) is NOT in town for a whole week and she did NOT bring dinner for our whole family to eat together last night, only to have to ditch it at the last minute because my niece had a last minute melt-down. We did NOT go ahead and eat that dinner without her and love every single bite! :) I would never do that, what kind of person would eat a meal prepared for someone else when that someone couldn't attend? I am not loving every single crazy, insane, and out of control minute of life with my four little monkeys! And I am NOT running off right now to re-caffeinate before the bus comes to drop off the big boys. I certainly don't need caffeine in the middle of the afternoon... those three cups of coffee and large Coke I've already had today should be plenty.

Isaiah 25:1
"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Favorite Photo Friday

Another Friday has rolled around. I can't believe it. Well, for you night-owls, I know that technically it's still Thursday, but the fact of the matter is that we are having Jack's birthday party tomorrow night and I know I won't realistically get around to posting this tomorrow. So I am delaying the start of Grey's until I get this done.

Speaking of Grey's, I am really torn up about watching tonight. I am almost done with Ahab's Wife and I am dying to go get in my bed and finish it tonight. But I know I won't be awake long enough to read AND watch Gray's, so I guess it's going to have to wait for the weekend. And I guess that means the late fees at the library will have to rack up a few more days. Ugh!

Anyway, it's Halloween central around my house, as you can tell from the "fav photos". I don't know why I get all these decorations that look so cute when they are in the store, but when I put them together at my house, they look like a hodge podge of junk. Why can some people take a few simple decorations and make their homes look like a Southern Living cover (remember kids, we've already discussed my Southern Living-wanna-be'ness) and I can take a handful of the same stuff and it looks like the Great Pumpkin puked on my lawn. Egad!

As I have already mentioned, I am no Martha Stewart. Unfortunately or fortunately for me, whichever the case may be, I married into a family of entertaining southern women. For that matter, I was born into a family of entertaining Southern women. My mom and Brian's mom can both put on a spread like you wouldn't believe with no more notice than a five minute drive home from church. I, however, did not get the "kitchen gene" in my family. I can whip you out a pair of groovy pants or a funky T-shirt in about an hour flat, but don't ask me to cook or look like Martha Stewart when I entertain you. I'll offer you something to drink (if you're lucky), but it will be from a can, not something made on the stove and then put in a pretty hand-painted pitcher. Anyway, why am I rambling (on and on and on) about this? Because I have about 30 people coming to my house tomorrow night for this party (and did I mention all three of the entertaining in-laws will be here) and I had it all figured out how I could look like the best hostess ever as easy as pie. I had planned a hot-dog roast... I was lighting the firepits in the back yard, I bought orange lights to string around our new deck railing... I have 48 hot dogs ready to be roasted over an open fire... and the weatherman is predicting torrential downpours! HELP! What the heck am I going to do with 30 people INSIDE my house and 48 hot dogs that haven't been cooked? Oh dang, looks like once again I'll be ordering pizza for a birthday party! :)


I thought this was going to be my fav photo because it's Jack helping his little brother with his pre-school homework. It's priceless.
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But then I saw these and I couldn't resist posting them. #1 because I laugh when I see the flower on the floor next to my feet in the photo with Connor... I told you I'm not a housekeeper and I'm not lying.

#2 because I'm actually IN some photos for a change... my children WILL have evidence that I actually exist.

#3 because everyone just looks so happy and it's such a fun time for our family that I had to show off my cutie pies!

Have a great weekend. I'm sure I'll have tons of "Not Me's" for the Monday post after my rain party! :)
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Did we have fun?

We're back from the beach. Did we have fun? Here's the best of the best (I will spare you all 346 photos!) It's always good to be home, but time together with just the six of us was totally priceless!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Headed South....

Pardon my absence for a few days while I put some sun on these lilly white legs and just enjoy sitting in a house that doesn't need to be cleaned (at least not by me!)

I couldn't get it together for "Not Me, Monday!" yesterday. Sorry everyone... I have so much fun doing it, but I just couldn't work it up this time even though I thought of about 1,000 not-me's throughout the week. It's funny how participating in that carnival makes you really look at some of the outrageous parts of every day life a little more humorously... but still be sure to check out MckMamma's blog for the other not-me'ers.

Brian and I have instituted a "no tv on vacation" plan... we'll see how long it lasts. I'm taking the under on about five hours. But it's a nice thought anyway. I told him there is no way he's applying that rule to me because I'm not missing Gray's Anatomy for vacation... that's a mini-vacation in itself.

Well, that's about it. We're all packed up and the fishing poles and kites are waiting to go into the Rocket Box when Brian gets around to packing the three things he's responsible for. I love how he asks me why getting ready for vacation stresses me out... oh, I don't know... I only have to do about ten loads of laundry, pack for FIVE people, get all the beach stuff together, pull together ever electronic gaming device in the house and then locate the actual games that go to them. I only have to rearrange car-seats and clean out the car and pack snacks and go to the grocery and..... This time tomorrow, I'll be having a margarita on the deck of our condo, eating some smoked tuna dip from the fresh catch store, and listening to a Kenny Chesney CD. :) I can't tell you how much we all need this little adventure. I found this verse in Isaiah that says it all. I can't wait... y'all carry on in my absence.

Isaiah 44
"For I will pour water on the thirsty ground and send streams coursing through the parched earth. I will pour my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy Birthday!

I have been affected today in a way I didn't anticipate. Today is Jack's (my oldest) and Meg's (my youngest) birthday. Obviously, I have shared many birthdays with my children between four kids over eight years. However, there's something really profound and moving for me that my first baby and my last baby were both born on this day. There is definitely something very special about the day, beyond the fact that it's a birthday. It's like an affirmation for me that God had a plan and saw all the events of the future, even before the first one was set into motion. Jack was born 5 weeks early. Meg was born one week late. Both so that they could share this special day and fulfill God's promise to us to fill our home with the laughter of our children. It's so fitting and perfect that Jack shares his birthday with his sister, above the other siblings, because he is the one who is most enthralled with her. He is the one who dotes on her and adores her. She also loves him in a way that only a little sister can love a big brother. It reminds me of the stories my MIL tells of how Brian's younger sister idolized her big brother and wanted to sleep in his room at night and go where he went. It's precious to me that they have this relationship because I see the relationship Brian still has with his sister and I know it's something that will be special for the rest of their lives.

I am one very blessed Mama, and today, I am overwhelmed by the enormity of that blessing! I am overwhelmed with how undeserving I am of these precious and perfect souls that have been entrusted to us by a loving and merciful God!

Psalm 37:4
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

And because I missed Favorite Photo Friday, here's the best of the week:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Three months home and 2 year check-up!

Yesterday was Meg's two year physical. That in and of itself would not be blog-worthy except for the miraculous thing that occurred during the visit. Dr. Heil (our beloved, in case you missed that point in earlier posts) pronounced, "I can't find a thing wrong with her." To which I quickly retorted, "Really?! This is our first spin around the 'nothing's wrong' PI block." Seriously folks, if there is a therapy out there, I've done it with someone (and still am, with some, by the way!) I have never even heard of anyone coming home with NO issues. Now, I realize that I am jinxing myself. I realize that tomorrow the spawn of the Alien will wake up in place of my once healthy and beautiful daughter. I realize that simply by posting this, I am totally tempting fate and something will bite me in the butt... hard! But, just for a moment, for a fleeting glimpse of a second, I just have to revel in the deep breath I took and know that for once, I am not facing a mountain of paperwork, government forms, tests, and therapy appointments. Folks, I need this... have you seen my schedule? As my friend, Kendra, said, "I need a flow chart to figure out who is going where."

That's not to say that we don't have some things ahead of us. Dr. Heil does want us to have her hearing tested. He says it's a requirement for all IA kiddos in his practice, so we'll be heading off to the audiologist for that soon. But according to her speech development, he feels sure she will not have any hearing issues. He believes that possibly I am wrong about her speech and that she does, indeed, have 50 words (which would put her on target for her age.) I don't think so, I could only think of about 20, but he said the fact that she is stringing together 3 words makes him curious that she doesn't have more and he thinks within three more months she will have 100 words. Folks, 50 words is what a normal two-year-old is supposed to have. 100 words is what a normal 2 year, three month kiddo is supposed to have. Do you know how amazing it would be to me to have a kid come home and be "normal" within six months. (Even our bio son was not in the "normal" range for speech at age 2.) I've never seen it in my house and I still can't let myself believe it will happen. I am sure there is a therapy out there waiting to jump up and grab at me... you may remember that I am somewhat of a doubting Thomas. But anyway, for this particular dot on the timeline, I am just going to sit and marvel at the possibility of "normal."

The little string-bean is 85% for height (same as she has been since six months of age.) She is 14th % for weight. Her head circ. is "average." Again, a first for our family as I've never had a kid hit the chart inside of two years post adoption. I have always heard stories of folks adopting "chubby" kids or really tall kids, but I could not attest to it personally, until now. Of course, you realize that this means I will have sons who are 5'5" and a daughter who is 6'5". :) Wouldn't trade it for the world!

Okay, also, our baby girl has been home three months already. I can't believe it. I've reached the "I'm not drowning anymore" point. Do you remember the analogy I gave my clients about the first year home? First three months, you're going under, you don't even look like you're keeping it together, you're definitely bobbing up and down and gasping for air on the infrequent trips to the surface. Three to six months you're starting to tread water. You're not making forward progress, and your paddling like h-e-*-* under the water, but the view from above is at least your head is out of the water now and you can gasp for air when you need it without fighting for it. Of course, you're panting from the long time you just spent under the surface. Then there's the six to twelve month mark that's still out there ahead of me. It's when you actually start to make some progress toward the shore. It's when your strokes aren't necessarily pretty, you might be dog paddling rather than doing a Michael Phelps 'fly, but you're getting there nonetheless. The closer you get to shore, the smoother your strokes become. So... it's monumental and worth recording that we've hit the head above water stage. And you know what, I feel it. I definitely feel my head is now above the water. It's really not that there is a magical timeline, it's just apparently that three months is about what human beings require x 24/7 to get to really know one another and develop a norm. I'm very much looking forward to the next three months. This is my favorite time of year, I love Halloween, I love when summer relents and gives way to crisp weather, I love Thanksgiving, and there's nothing more magical than a little person's first Christmas. We have some fun ahead of us in the next three months, and knowing that when all that fun is over, we'll be almost to our six month mark makes it even more exciting. Whew! That's a big ol' collective sigh of relief.

And oh yeah, the bonus of hitting that six month mark will be that this d#@* election is behind us and I can stop worrying about and talking about and hearing about that for another FOUR WHOLE years! :) Wow, four years, Meg will be in school the next time we elect a president. That will be a nice long break from politics. :)

Psalm 85:8
"I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people... "

Monday, October 06, 2008

Not Me Monday

I did NOT have a conversation at the dinner table that calmly involved these words, "Do not stab your brother with that fork."

I did not go to bed early three nights this week so that I could read more of the library books I checked out. I'm not a reader, why would I do that!

I did not get so engrossed in The BFG by Roald Dahl with my third grader that I read past his bedtime. What kind of mother lets her kids stay up past their bedtime?

I did not have ten discussions this week with my best friend about why we are so entitled to sell our Monday Night Football tickets (against our hubbies' wishes) as long as they are going for a hefty enough price. That would make us fair weather fans, and we are definitely not fair weather fans (just in need of a little redecorating cash!:)

I did not breathe a sigh of relief when our big school fundraiser was over on Friday and now we can cruise until after fall break. I mean, who doesn't love school fundraisers, I wish we had them every day! :)

I did not get strep throat this week, only the busiest week of school. And while I was at the doctor being diagnosed, I did not let Meg open EVERY single sucker in a dum-dum bag, taste them, and then wrap it back up and drop it in my purse. I would never do that. I'm a good mother, I wouldn't use candy to pass the time waiting, even if I was sick, which I'm not, right?

I did not offend one of the dearest people in the world to me this week over something totally stupid. I was not close minded and I did not do exactly what I HATE in others and just go on and on about something without considering her feelings. What kind of friend would I be if I did that. Plus, I'm totally self-aware and I never say anything without thinking how it will affect others and I certainly wouldn't do this to someone so important. I hate people like that!

I did not get excited to log into the blog today knowing that I could read everyone else's "Not Me" posts! :)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sibling Rivalry...

One of the things I like least about becoming a parent for the second, third, fourth time is the Sibling Rivalry that rears it's ugly little head! It makes my baby a big boy (all three times), it makes a child that I left the house feeling was the most precious, gentle, adoring, adorable son in the world become the most passive-aggressive, jealous, mean-spirited, defiant little brat I have ever seen. Truly, adding a sibling seems to bring out the very worst of all my kids. The good news is, it only seems to happen once, so when Jack was displaced by Liam, he didn't feel the same level of angst when Connor came home and Meg, etc.

Connor definitely falls into that passive-aggressive category. I witness him walking past Meg, supposedly very innocently, and just "accidentally" knocking her down or stepping on her toe. The infractions are sometimes very subtle, but sometimes just very blatant, like today when he said, "Watch this mom" and then proceeded to hit her in the face with a sink plunger. Egad!

Not surprisingly, though probably a little late, I broke out the Siblings Without Rivalry book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish that has walked me through two other little misplaced toddlers to see what I could glean. I re-read what I consider to be one of the most enlightening exercises I have found regarding how siblings feel about one another and what brings out this "meanness." Following is a direct quote from the book:

"Imagine that your spouse puts an arm around you and says, "Honey, I love you so much, and you're so wonderful that I've decided to have another wife just like you." When the new wife (husband) finally arrives, you see that she's very young and kind of cute. When the three of you are out together, people say hello to you politely, but exclaim ecstatically over the newcomer. "Isn't she adorable! Hello sweetheart... You are precious!" Then they turn to you and ask, "How do you like the new wife?" The new wife needs clothing. Your husband goes into your closet, takes some of your sweaters and pants and gives them to her. When you protest, he points out that since you've put on a little weight, your clothes are too tight on you and will fit her perfectly. The new wife is maturing rapidly. Every day she seems smarter and more competent. One afternoon as you're struggling to figure out the directions on the new computer your husband bought you, she bursts into the room and says, "ooooh, can I use it? I know how." When you tell her she can't use it, she runs crying to your husband. Moments later she returns with him. Her face is tear-stained and he has his arm around her. He says to you, "What would be the harm in lettering her have a turn? Why can't you share?" One day you find your husband and the new wife lying on the bed together. He's tickling her and she's giggling. Suddenly the phone rings and he answers it. Afterwards he tells you that something important has come up and he must leave immediately. He asks you to stay home with the new wife, and make sure she's all right."

Isn't that the best! When you throw adoption into the mix, it means that you not only bring home a "cuter/younger" version, but you also bring home a child who's already mobile, already into all their stuff, already "behind" in their needs for your attention. Losing your place as the baby of the family is HARD enough to an infant (a.k.a. blob) who stays where mom leaves them, sleeps 16 hours a day, and can't bother you when you want to be left alone. But displace the baby with a child who needs to securely bond and all the implications that brings with it, along with the fact that this new little person is getting into all your favorite things. Your mom is a stress case because now she has to worry about your new siblings physical, motor, and emotional development and attachment while trying to keep your needs met and you have a recipe for an early afternoon cocktail, for sure! (For mommy, not new sibling or brother, of course! :) Anyway, this too shall pass, we hope. I only half joke when I say that Jack is still not over the fact he's not an only child. He would probably be perfectly happy to have one sibling... Meg. Liam and Connor are the best of buddies, those two I don't ever have to worry about, but Jack is constantly riding Liam even to this day. And we already heard the issues Connor has with his sister.

Well, if that doesn't make you want to run out and have a baby/adopt a toddler, I don't know what will! :) The only thing I can tell you is that the rewards, even in light of all this, for both you AND your older child are far greater than if there never was a sibling to rival. It's worth it, but boy, do I ever need a Savior!

Psalm 69:1-3
"Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters and a flood overflows me, I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait for my God."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Favorite Photo Friday


Okay, I'm a total copy-cat. I am ripping this idea right off of Adrienne's blog. I'm not even trying to make it my own, I'm stealing it lock, stock and barrel (and name too.) I actually tried all week to think of a catchy DIFFERENT name for it so I wouldn't so blatantly be mimicing Adrienne, but in the end, I decided I could not improve on perfection.

Today was Moore Miles, our big school fundraiser. After Moore Miles, all the over-worked volunteers get together for a block party/let-down (i.e. the work is done) party. I couldn't pick just one photo, but they are both of the same thing. The boys had to get "tight" for the occassion. (Apparently tight is a new word to say when something is "cool". I'm so old and not with it that I'm not actually sure of the appropriate usage, but I heard the kids saying "that's tight" ALOT while we were hawking their hair! :)

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