Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is talking learning?

Oh boy. The trains of thought I have going in my head right now are on colliding together in a massive wreck. So many topics I've been processing and dwelling on. They don't all connect or necessarily have anything to do with each other except they are living my head. Some of it I won't yet write about, such as my grandmother, who is in the hospital trying to get a diagnosis for her frustrating and scary symptoms. But her illness--and its affect on my mom's daily life--is very much on my mind. But maybe the biggest thread of my scattered thoughts is this: sick to my stomach realization of how insanely and unfairly blessed I am.

This morning I found out that a mom at our church passed away, after a year and a half long battle with cancer. She leaves behind many friends, a loving husband, a very close extended family and 2 small children. I didn't know Lisa well, but I am close to some that were close to her. Her illness and death alone could keep me weeping, worrying, praying and writing for weeks. How did she deal with knowing that her kids will grow up without their mom? How will those kids go through the day-to-day with this huge hole in their hearts? How will it affect them into adulthood? How did she grieve her own loss at knowing she will be missing the rest of their lives? How will her husband single parent two hurting children while dealing with his own grief? Why am I so lucky that I'm still here? How would my family deal with something like that? Are there things that I need to be doing to prepare for the worst--logistically, emotionally, financially? How will Lisa's family truly celebrate her niece's wedding tomorrow? Is it possible to have a normal childhood after losing a parent? Again...why do I get to rock my children to sleep tonight and Lisa doesn't? It's NOT FAIR.

I've also been reading about adoption--so then thinking a lot about it. Oh my word, there are LOTS of conversations about adoption taking place. Just do a little blog hopping and your mind will be spinning with the complications and beauty of it. Opinions and aspects and positions and benefits and ugliness and healing and encouraging that I was completely unaware of prior to this spring. And some of it makes me smile. Some of it makes me defensive. Some of it makes me angry. Some of it confuses me. BUT IT ALL MAKES ME THINK. In the past few years I've noticed myself doing more listening about controversial topics and less talking. Partly because there are few issues that I KNOW well enough to be passionate about, but also because it is rare that I view an issue as completely black and white. In my view, there are positive and negative aspects of practically every issue on earth. Adoption is no exception.

In her most recent post, Robin is helping me think about my future child's first mom--my responsibility to her, my respect for her, and how both of those behaviors will affect my child greatly. April's post is such a good reality check for me. I need to keep hearing from adoptive moms that no amount of research and study can truly prepare you for the heartbreaking aspects of adopting a toddler. But that doesn't mean you don't prepare anyway, and it doesn't mean you don't adopt a toddler! But she also gives hope and points out that all the best intentions in the world do not equal a good adoptive parent. Hard freaking work makes a good parent. Period. Speaking of adoptive parents, this blog I found from April's, and it has some great, deep stuff. Hard stuff. Hard questions about adoption and motives and actions. Things that I need to read, like how being an adoptive parent will usually (I'm sure there are exceptions) be harder than parenting a biological child. Trent and I both read it, and I'm so glad we did. I feel so blessed that I am allowed to participate in this discussion at the BEGINNING of our adoption process. To read and talk and LISTEN.

So, to answer my own question: is talking learning? I think CONVERSATION can be a part of learning. But a conversation includes talking and listening. So, [raise my invisible glass] here's to conversations and blogs and moms and babies and parenting and adoption and unfairness and a God who knows and sees all and allows the unfairness to exist in hopes that He will be glorified in it all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ansel Adams Jr.

A little over a year ago, I posted about my new special camera that was small and pink and just for me. I guarded it vigilantly. For several months. In the past few, however, I've gotten a little lax in my camera rules, and Carson has also become more stealth in "borrowing" the camera without my knowledge. Fortunately, he always leaves a little piece of evidence behind: And, obviously, I can't say that I'm always completely unaware, just focused on something else and in no mood to have a camera in my face or stop my conversation to have a battle over the camera.

Fortunately, there is a strawberry-headed muse that is always available and usually a willing model for the portraits.
If I were collecting evidence, this photo is as good as a time stamp. It was taken between 9:41 and 9:55 am on a weekday.

And this one was taken between 12:45 and 1:30pm. Naptime!

I debated whether or not to post this one of my (usually) handsome husband, because it honest-to-goodness might give me nightmares.
Speaking of evidence, this shot of me at the computer with an unmade bed and a room full of laundry behind me would be fairly incriminating. (Is it dirty, needing to be washed? Clean, needing to be folded? It could be either.)
This one was a bit of a shock. First, it is clear that we are leaving the house and Carson was sitting in his carseat before I got in. THAT is extremely rare. I had no idea he took the camera into the car at all. And I love that I can see the array of pennies on the console, from the day before when we emptied Carson's piggy bank to buy chocolate milk at Starbucks. Those were the leftover pennies. They stayed on that console for about 10 days before I broke down and cleaned them up.
Aw, gee, what a cute little mischief-maker he is. Maybe he'll use his talent for fortune and fame some day. Or maybe he'll just like pictures like I do!

Monday, April 26, 2010


It's been more than three months since the earthquake in Haiti. Since then, there's been at least 2 other major natural disasters that have rocked the world and the press, but the Haiti earthquake still haunts me. I'm continually following the blogs and am very aware that this tragedy was a catalyst in our family's decision to adopt. It's not hard at all to let it slip from my mind, but I'm trying to be intentional about reading the difficult updates, because it keeps Haiti on my mind and in my prayers. A friend once told me that she thinks the world would have more compassion if we stopped thinking in grand visions and heard a few individual's stories. Lately, this woman's story has touched me.
Her name is Marie Rose, and she was walking home when the earthquake struck. Her home, where her four children were waiting for her. Her home, made of concrete blocks and rebar, which was leveled when she arrived. I can never in my wildest nightmares imagine what Marie was feeling as she ran to her babies or when she realized that only one could be saved, and he badly injured. Marie is my reminder to keep praying for Haiti. But even that seems too grandiose. Marie is my reminder to pray for Marie. To listen to stories and remember names and faces. To think of the faces inhabiting those sweeping shots of the tent cities covering Port-au-Prince. To pray for the mommies, the daddies, the babies, the brothers, the sisters, the friends, the aunties & uncles, grandmas & grandads whose worlds were ripped down in a moment. But on the same blog where I found Marie's story, I read of hope and rebuilding. I hear of ways that my little prayers and my little dollars can be matched--doubled--to help provide a home for Marie or someone just like her.
And reading Marie's story makes my heart ache with love, appreciation, gratitude for these moments and these faces:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day to Day Stuff

I haven't been getting very many sub jobs lately, AND I've been sick, AND Trent's been working some long hours, AND we're on a really tight budget, so I've been feeling the HOME part of being a stay-at-home mom this week. I'm blessed and I know it. As the saying goes: Lord, grant me the patience to deal with my blessings. :)
The dynamic between my two squirrels is getting more and more complicated. Multiple times a day they are the best of friends. But then...well, you can guess. I'm working with Sydney on what it means to "Leave Carson alone," and "Keep your hands to yourself." I'm working with Carson on speaking in a kind voice, even when he's mad, even when his sister is pinching him, even when she is smooshing her body up against his on the couch, pressing her nose into his cheek to get his attention. It's kind of funny if it didn't escalate so quickly and so often. Today I heard him say: "SYDNEY! Keep your hand--keep your fee---KEEP YOUR BODY TO YOURSELF, Sydney! Keep your BODY TO YOURSELF!"
Here's a little random picture montage that tells a little story. I will translate the children's inner monologue.
Sydney: Look at me! I'm a little angel! I asked mommy with my adorable sign language if I could eat this granola bar on the couch and she said yes! And one of the chocolate chips already melted on my white shirt! I'm SO adorable!
Carson: This is the best day ever! [Editor's note: that was an actual quote.] Jojo got me a dragon in my Happy Meal AND a pen that has a light and quacks! I wonder how many times I can make this duck quack before my mom rips it out of my hands and threatens to throw it in the garbage again?
Both children: Ho-hum. La-di-da. Getting kinda bored.
Sydney: Hmmm, I wonder what would happen....
Sydney:...if I just took my finger and poked Carson veeeeeery lightly, but for a reeeeeeally long time?

You'll notice there are no pictures, because the scene became volatile, and the camera was removed to an elevated place of safety.

Another recent occurence at the T household: our DVD player died. RIP. No, we will not be replacing it with a Blu Ray. No, we did not even have the cash on hand to replace it with a regular one. Yes, I did have plans to buy one on Craigslist for $15. But then we found out that Trent gets to choose from a list of gifts for completing 5 years of work at the Hospital. Guess what one of the gifts was? Yep. It came in the mail yestserday. I'm sure it is of the HIGHEST quality and will last us well into retirement.
But while we waited, this was our DVD watching method:
Evidently, the movie made him angry, or maybe he was reliving the situation earlier with his sis.
Left over frosting + graham cracker + 22 months = happiness.

Today we all sat down and had a lovely and civil time at the table doing some coloring.
And by "civil," I mean Carson was wearing nothing but his unders, natch.
And by "lovely time"
I mean approximately 20 seconds before Birdie was done with being artsy craftsy.
I can't say I love every minute, but I DO love my day job, and am so grateful for my little employers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Blog friends

I'm beginning to make the rounds of some blogs that I've been lurking, asking for their permission to link from my blog. Soon I'll have enough to make a neat little list on the side! Right now I thought I'd tell you about a few.

I am loving reading all kind of blogs that talk about adoption from different angles, but of course I'm especially drawn to blogs by parents who are or have adopted from Thailand. The night we first realized that we were very seriously drawn to Thailand as our child's birth country, I went googling. :) I found THIS BLOG by Kyle and Robin. I spent at least an hour reading back through their postings and their adventure with Tea. I was completely captivated. See, my favorite thing to do with these blogs is scroll back and back until I find the postings about their trip to Bangkok to meet and bring home their kiddos. It's fascinating, thrilling and heartbreaking reading these stories. I immediately commented on Robin's blog and corresponded with her a bit. She's already been a help to me. Their positive experience with Holt and with Thailand got my heart pounding, feeling it was like a confirmation. They brought Tea home the same month I gave birth to Sydney. As soon as they were able, they applied to adopt another little person from Thailand through Holt. They are awaiting travel approval for little brother, Pea!

Chandra is a blogger who found me! She and her husband adopted a beautiful daughter from Thailand, Penny, and it has been so neat to read about Penny's homecoming to her forever family. Penny's a little older than a lot of the children adopted from Thailand, and she seems to be doing so well.

It's especially fun to read about a family who just recently had their "gotcha day" with the child they've been praying and waiting for. This family have been home with their little Button for one month! I love Rosemary's honesty, documenting the good and the difficult aspects of having a newly adopted toddler in the house. One thing I really was glad to read was from a post Rosemary wrote while they were in Thailand. Each adoptive family gets the opportunity to meet the foster family who has been caring for their child for many months. This particular foster family has fostered 10 children with Holt Sahathai Foundation, and 8 of the children were able to be returned to their birth families. Two (including Button), were adopted to American families.

This is great news to me, because it tells me that our agency works hard to find the best solution for the child. They do not match a child with adoptive parents unless they have exhausted all possibilities for them to be cared for in Thailand. Part of the reason it takes the better part of the child's first year before they are matched with adoptive parents is that the agency and the Thai government are confirming the child's status as an orphan, and making sure that adoption is the best choice for this child. Hearing this story about the foster children confirms what I've read many times on Holt's material: they find families for children, not children for families. I love knowing that by the time we are matched to a child, we truly will be the best choice for him. And I can already feel in my gut that pursuing and waiting for him (or her) was the best choice for us!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kid Catch Up

I've been posting a lot about our adoption process lately, so I thought I'd take a minute to update on Carson & Sydney. A lot of this is for my own records! You might think that I'm so involved in the paperwork and research for the adoption that I'm neglecting our 2 bio kids, but there is an amazing fail safe that keeps that from happening: the children themselves. A four and one year old DO NOT LET YOU forget their presence and their need for attention at any point during the day. No neglecting allowed. Period.
Sydney is almost 22 months, and is a character. However, she saves most of this character for our immediate family. Most of the time, outside the house, she is quiet and demur, sweet and shy. She doesn't give up smiles easily. People frequently comment on her bright red hair and the fact that she's so serious. But at our house, she is full of life! Sydney is a late-talker, but that doesn't keep her from jabbering to us all the time. She screams and giggles, makes messes and annoys her brother to no end. My little angel gets put in time out multiple times a day for hitting, pinching, turning the TV off and on--basically your garden-variety naughty toddler behavior. Even though she can be a stinker, God answered my prayers and she is a SLEEPER! She sleeps a solid 12 hours each night, and takes at least a one hour nap. She's also got a mouth full of teeth and one of them is definitely a sweet tooth! Here she is partaking in the leftovers from the Nike cupcakes. Although I'm still a total rookie in knowing what to do with it, I am head-over-heels in love with her wild, unkempt red hair. No picture can do it justice!
Carson is 4.5 years old. He is smart as a whip, if I do say so myself. He's constantly saying things that impress me or crack us all up. For instance, if you didn't see it on facebook, here's a classic, random Carsonism: "Mom, a T-Rex wouldn't want to eat me. I don't have enough meat on me. [pause] A T-Rex would definitely want to eat you." Thanks, Bud. A few weeks ago I saw him diligently drawing and I asked him what he was working on. "I'm making a map of our house. To show you where you're allowed to go." Of course you are!
Mr. Carson is also my biggest challenge. He has a will that is stronger than iron and quite a little temper. I know in my heart that this will serve him well as he grows, but some days? It leads to the undoing of our household! I am learning every day what works and doesn't work in raising this child o' mine. And I know that a lot of his, uh, let's call it "fiestiness," he saves for me. For instance, I can not suggest (and never, EVER choose) an item of clothing, a certain pair of shoes, a television show to watch or a snack for him to eat. 99.9% of the time he will automatically say NO, and say it strongly and loudly. I cannot casually ask if he will please [put shoes on, turn the light off, get in the car, pick up that toy] because his reflex response is to fight, and fight hard--to the "death" so to speak. So, I have to get creative in my parenting. And by "creative" I mean "tricky." I have to trick him into thinking what I want him to do is really HIS idea, and is actually what HE wants to do! Like I said--it's a learning process every day! But he also shows us that he is a SWEET boy many times a day. He is kind to his sister, he loves Jesus, he prays for his new baby brother (he's pretty sure it will be a brother), and he wants to please us and make us proud. Which he does very often!

These are just some random pics from a Saturday when we took a family bike ride to Subway, then took our sandwiches for a picnic at the park. The kids really did have fun, even though this picture indicates otherwise.
A little chilly, but can't let that stop you in Oregon.
Random alert! Here's some spring/Easter cupcakes I made. Very easy and very coconutty.
Much to Trent's dismay, our dear friend Sarah & Tommy continue to supply the kids with Yankees gear. Sydney was lovin' her new hat.
Checkin' herself out in the mirror. Looking good!
This may also seem random, but it was actually a significant moment for me. You see, when we do family crafts, I can always feel myself bristle at letting the kids do their (completely age-appropriate) messy versions of whatever it is. I know it doesn't make sense, but that's how I feel. This particular night, we were making individual pizzas, and Carson--totally on his own--made an actual design! And it was neat--and symmetrical!
I was totally impressed with this face that he made on his pizza! Good stuff. Good stuff.

Friday, April 09, 2010

How far along are you?

I'm beginning to get a feeling...similar to when I was pregnant. Everyone knows our news--we're expecting. :) It's going to be a long, slow process, with little bits of news and updates, but a lot of waiting and/or things I'm doing that are not noteworthy or not blog-appropriate. "How's the adoption going?" (aka: "How are you feeling?" to a pregnant woman.) I truly do not mind that question, but will attempt to update on the blog as often as possible.
Right now we are completing the pre-requisites for our home study/family study/adoption study--it has different names. We each got fingerprinted, answered about 96 essay questions (My form turned out 6 pages longer than Trent's. Neither of us was surprised.). We asked friends from different seasons of life to fill out an (also very long) reference questionnaire, we got letters confirming employment, bank & tax statements, etc. We are right now waiting for our dr's appointments, where we will each have a complete physical and HIV & TB tests. When those forms are turned in, we'll pay our fee and schedule our interviews with the social worker. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to know we are ready to pay that fee. THANK YOU to all of you!
I've also been blessed to find/be directed to a few other adoption blogs, which I'm obviously very interested in. It's an added bonus when I discover one that is well written and finds a way to communicate what I've been feeling. THIS is a must read. Gwenn is an adoptive mom and also happens to run a small orphanage in Haiti. This post about adoption is heartachingly beautiful. As Tara said, I wish adoption weren't necessary. But until that's the case, I like what Gwenn said.
I'm also planning to visit this one very often in the coming months. It is written by the wife of a guy I went to college with, who is now pastoring a church in our old stomping grounds. Sarah is an artist, and she writes like one:
If 7% of the world's Christians adopted
ONE child,
there would be no orphans in the world.

After reading the quote above, Steve and I lost sleep, partly because it made us sick with the injustice of it, but also because we were filled with excitement. Something new, something risky and not quite within our control was working itself out in our lives. We dreamed and prayed, cried and celebrated. And here we are, standing at the cusp of the bravest and most unconventional adventure we've ever attempted. And already we can sense the joy, like the salty ocean air that hits your nose even before you can see the water...
Good stuff, huh?
And I was also connected to Nicole through a mutual friend. You gotta read her post about why they are adopting. Here is a little excerpt:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” - James 1:27
Why orphans and widows? Because we’re just like them: we were lost, without hope… strangers in this world and slaves to sin. But no more. We are sons and daughters now. We have a family… an eternal family. And in that family we have an inheritance much richer than ANYTHING the Trumps or Waltons could provide; we have the promise of eternal life. And because our Father — our Adoptive Father — loves us so much, He allows us to help him right now, to serve on the front lines today in His great redemptive work, to bring other brothers and sisters into the fold so they too can share in that great inheritance. What an amazing privilege, friends!

And through Nicole's blog, I found It's Almost Naptime--gotta love that blog title. They are selling shirts as a fundraiser that say "I'm adopted--Ephesians 1:3-14." Part of that verse was a reminder that "...He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as his sons, through Christ Jesus, in accordance with His pleasure and His will."

(FYI: we will NOT be partaking in a debate about predestination on this blog!) This may not mean much to some of you, but to me, who has spent hours thinking about the concept of adoption, the identity issues, the grief, the loss, the gain, the system, the risks, the benefits...this means a lot to me. Why? Because my adoption by my Heavenly Father was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because adoption, with all of it's brokenness, is a step towards wholeness. Adoption is beautiful. I thought I was beginning my first journey into it, but these bloggers, through Scripture, reminded me that this is my second time around. I'm just participating from a different angle of the triad. And I could not be more grateful.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Wow! Thank you to everyone who donated to our Thailand Adoption Fund this last week. I've been continually blessed and humbled by the support of friends and family from so many different areas of my life--from childhood friends to grad school friends to friends I've only met in person one time! I cannot tell you how much we appreciate it. Including a donation received just before the Week of Asking, we raised almost $2500! I'm overwhelmed with gratitude!

This may be the wrong time to tell you this, but today I learned of a non-profit organization that works with adoptive families to find a way for large donations to be tax-deductable. So if you are out there, Mr. $10,000, stay tuned! :) BUT, they only work with families who have gone through the home study, and we needed this week's support money to PAY for the home study. I can't stop grinning at how God has worked through all of you to make it possible for us to move onto the next step!


As promised, I will now take a break from talking about money and go back to my best blog-fodder: pictures of cute kids. Saturday was a fun day with 3 big events. Arguably the most important being:

Sydney got pigtails! She is in a funky hair stage, with little growth on top and sporatic growth on the back and sides. It will be a learning experience to perfect the 'tails. But Trent and I were dying at how cute she looked.

Big deal #2 was going to an Easter egg hunt with Mimi and Bapaw Phil. Of course it was raining, so the hunts were divided up into age-appropriate banquet halls! Since our Easter morning is always super busy (and super early) I dressed the kids in their getups on this day, so I could take some pictures. Sydney needed a little coaching to figure out the goal of this strange tradition, but soon she was on a roll. Things really sped up when she realized she could put the basket down and use 2 hands.

I loved when she would crouch down and gently, so gently, put the eggs in her basket.

Carson was the only one brave enough to pose with the (poorly costumed) Easter bunny.
This is the moment he realized--this "hunt" was not going to be much of a challenge.
I was very proud of Carson, because before, after and during the mad-dash/hunt, he talked about not taking more eggs than other kids and making sure he never took an egg from another kid. May not sound like a big deal to you, but to a 4 year old with candy on his mind, this was a mature step!
Fortunately we got a couple outdoor shots with no flash needed. I love my cuties!
Then, for event #3, we went for an early Easter dinner to Jojo and Bapaw Roy's house. The cousins were there too, which truly made it an event! Let me tell you, this lovebug, Kaitlyn, is such a smiler!
I have three pictures of Jack with these binoculars in different areas of the house. I'm thinking he liked them.
Carson is lovin' on his baby cousin! He's telling Daddy/Uncle Trent that he has to wait his turn.
This was our best attempt at a picture of the 4 cousins. Hahaha! It makes me laugh just thinking about it. We were bribing Jack and Sydney with jelly beans to keep them on the couch at all. I'm sure there will be many more attempts that have various levels of success, but that doesn't mean we'll ever stop trying!