Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Naughty Genius.

I would say "evil genius" but that just sounds a little too harsh. In case you haven't heard of Carson's most recent antics (I posted the story on Facebook), I now have visual aides.
So, Carson was playing the Wii the other day. A gaming system I still love and a purchase I'm still happy with. Plenty of kid-friendly games (even ones that make us break a sweat!) for my preschooler and his parents. However, we need boundaries, people. So, Carson was playing the other day by himself and I told him he had 5 minutes left, then he had to turn it off. After the usual loud whining and pouting, he grouches to me: "MOM! I'm so mad at you! I'm going to change your Mii." For those of you who don't know, the "mii" is a clever name for the avatar you can design, based on your own appearance, and save on the Wii to use whenever you play.
Of course, I chose mine to resemble me a little bit--if I was 10 pounds lighter, kept my brows perfectly trimmed, my head were the size of a wine barrel and I had cantaloupes for hands. But still--I was happy with cute little Jen Mii. Sure enough, the next time I logged in to play, this was what "I" looked like:
What the heck?! I'm like an amazon giantess with bags under my eyes, a mole and mustache. I couldn't believe he spent his last 5 minutes of play time working on this atrocious piece of artwork. Secretly, I was a little proud of how brilliant (and non-violent and non-potty-mouthed) his revenge was. But don't tell him! And don't think for a second that I didn't change it back immediately.
But to Carson I say: Touche, son. Touche.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2 down

Whew! We survived Syd's birthday party. Our little "family" party that used to be a cozy 10 adults is now running about 30 people. But man, do we feel blessed to have so many people love our kids!
Sydney has shown very little consistent preference towards any character or theme. The only things she's expressed favoritism towards is Barney videos on Netflix and the book Pinkalicious. I'll give you ONE GUESS as to which of those themes I chose for her party!The cupcakes didn't turn out like I had planned. Long story. It involves a major learning curve with a certain frosting, which you are supposed to only put on the cakes hours before serving. That equals: last minute panic! I'll tell you what though, Martha-Stewart-Swiss-Meringue-Buttercream-Frosting! I have your number, lady. I've got you figured out, and next time I will CONQUER YOU!
Of course, the Birdie was showered with all sorts of lovely things. Have you read this book? Have a kleenex handy!

I love this pic of Sydney inspecting her new Sleeping Beauty costume. Her first real dress-up costume!
I also love this pic of her brother trying on the high heels.
Syd has learned a lot in the last 12 months. For one, that cake is good and she should not hesitate in eating it.

Pretty in Pinkalicious!

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Heart

Dearest Sydney,
Prepare yourself, because I'm assuming that at least for the next 30 years, I will come to you on June 26th and say "I can't believe you're ___ years old!" It's a fact of life that never ceases to shock a parent--your babies grow up fast. It's cliche, but it's true: I can't believe you're TWO years old already. I can picture the day of your birth like it was yesterday! Serious contractions by 4am, hospital by 6:30am, you were born at 9:40am. As a mom, when you only have one child, you've already experienced the previously unknown love for a baby that swallows you whole. But still it's hard to imagine having that same passionate love for another new person that you've not really seen. And yet? When you looked at me with those puffy eyes just a teensy bit of red fuzz on your head...
Oh how I loved you so. I'll never forget the tears streaming down my face as I laid on a gurney with an ultrasound wand on my stomach, as I saw the minuscule buds of your future teeth, being told that they belonged to my DAUGHTER. I cherish the memory of the feeling of you dancing around, safe inside of me. But that feeling? IS NOTHING compared to the joy I've experienced in the last two years since you came into our world and made it better just by your presence.
To say that your personality has blossomed this past year is an understatement. Your personality has EXPLODED onto the scene over the last 12 months! Although you save your flare for those closest to you, we've seen you laugh and tease and taunt. You can drive us all crazy with your insistence on being heard--and held. You've learned to walk and run and climb. You've learned to communicate in a variety of ways...the last resort seeming to be actual words in English! You are still a petite little thing, but you are pretty tough. As I'm writing this you have many bruises and some scraps as well!
One of the things I love the most about you (and which also makes me want to rip my hair out occasionally) is your desire to be close to me. Having you snuggled up under my chin is perhaps my favorite feeling in the entire world. Hearing you sucking on the three fingers of your left hand, and tilting your head towards your "MinKAY" melts me over and over again.
At night we have a special routine. We snuggle, I sing, I put you in your crib with your Minky & glow worm, you lay on your back (sucking fingers, of course) and you reach up your index finger on your right hand, and I reach out mine. We touch. You smile and then wave. And I resist every urge in my body to crawl into that crib with you, hold you and never let you go.
I could fill a book with the hopes and dreams I have for you, with the lessons I long to teach you, with the character traits I'm determined to instill, the self-esteem that is so necessary to be the woman I know you can be. When I think about all the paths and options (and boys) that will be presented to you in this lifetime, I have a tendency to panic. There is one and only one thought that brings me peace. That the God of the universe is yours. Though it seems an impossibility, I know in my head that He loves you even more than I do. He longs for you to choose the right path and is walking alongside your Dad and I as we try with all our might to guide you without pushing you. He'll provide grace for you and for us, because I know we'll all mess up.

But always, always, ALWAYS know, my sweet Birdie, that I love you. OH, I love you so.

You are my heart.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Of course he did.

And of course I took a picture.
And of course he had no pants on.
Pantless Wonder Monkey strikes again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whatcha doin?

We have some really great neighbors behind our house. They have two elementary aged girls and a trampoline. Both of MY kids are enamored of the "dirls" as Carson calls them. This particular day, I came out to find Sydney just watching the action on the trampoline. She literally stayed up here in this spot for about 10 minutes--just peeking over the rail of the playset.
Her hip action position in this pic is funny to me: So curious.

Aw, Mom! Put the camera away!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Before & After

Oh my gosh, you guys. You know that feeling when you start to get the giggles in a situation where you should NOT be giggling? Well, that happened to me tonight, and the situation was that Trent and I were attempting our first at-home haircut for Carson. We've had a salon do it 2x, and every other time Gma Jojo has done it. But, it has been 2 years since the horrible incident where he was terrified of the clippers, so we decided we need to try again. Get him used to it so we can give him haircuts at home, right? Right.
But it just looked so EASY when other people did it! We started with clippers meant for a beard, but that was taking too long. (Sorry, Dad.) Then Trent remembered he had some old clippers, so we got those out. But once the guard got pushed down to "zero." Those of you who have worked with clippers know what that means. BALD SPOT!
Then we realized Trent's clippers don't have a very "long" setting, so it looked like he was scalping the poor boy. I mean, inches of hair were falling on the ground! I was so shocked at what it was turning out to look like that I just gasped, then started laughing--a stifled laugh, as so not to traumatize my son. Because really? He was traumatized enough by looking in the mirror! I know: it WILL grow out. :) And he's adorable either way, no?
Last night: Tonight:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Adoption ramblings

I realize that for me to say "I've learned so much about adoption since we began serious research 6 months ago" is very much like an 19 year old rolling her eyes and saying "When I was 18, I knew, like, NOTHING about the REAL WORLD." And yet, I'm saying it! However, the more I learn, the more I realize I have SO MUCH to learn and experience. I think some of my friends and family who read my blog will not hop around when I post a link, so I want to ramble a bit about changes in my heart and mind and opinions I've formed--SO FAR. :)

*Adoption can be painful. I know I didn't realize the depth of complication involved in the world of adoption until I started exploring that world. My view of adoption came primarily through other adoptive parents, and now through my own lens as a pre-adoptive parent. It was all roses and happy endings. I have seen and know of MANY adoptive situations that are beautiful, blissful and completely successful. But I hadn't given much thought to the pain, hurt, loss and anger that might be a reality for some birth parents, or especially adoptees. There are numerous blogs out there by adult adoptees, and to be honest--many of them are hard to read. Some are very angry. Some are thought provoking. I imagine that adult adoptees who have very few issues pertaining to their adoption or adoptive parents don't feel the need to write a blog about it. Harlow's Monkey is a blog by an adult adoptee who has some harsh words--and warnings--for adoptive parents. Another blog, by an adult adoptee from Korea, shares some of the horrid things people have said to her as an Asian girl/woman. It is rough to read, and I can only imagine how rough to experience.

Overall, my take away from the view of these adoptees is that the grief of losing one's biological family (and often one's culture and country) is not necessarily erased by a loving adoptive family. Most of the time, a loving family can heal greatly. But as adoptive parents, we will need to acknowledge that grief, validate it, and try our best not to take it as an attack on our family or our child's happiness in general. Wondering and wishing about his/her birth mother, does not mean my child resents me, but just that he longs for identity in a way I will never truly understand.

*Adoption can be difficult. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I had given very little thought to the difficult transition children face when they are adopted. Actually, "transition" is a soft word. Let me be perfectly frank: our child will be a toddler when we bring him home. (From now on, I'm going to use the pronoun "he" for ease.) He will have lived with one foster family for most of his short life, having a loving father and mother figure, be fed and clothed and loved. Then one day, 2 strangers who look weird, dress funny, smell bad (to him) will get all up in his personal space and take him away from everything and everyone he's ever known. It will probably feel like being kidnapped. We'll force him in an enclosed space (airplane) for 14 hours, strap him in an unknown contraption called a car seat, and introduce him to a bunch of new strangers, feed him weird food and never take him back "home." It will be extremely traumatic--probably for him and for us!

I really appreciate the honesty on Button's blog. Button's mom, Rosemary, shares what a rough time Button was having attaching to her during that first month home. But Rosemary has also written about the huge strides they have made. And I have huge respect for April, who is single-parenting while her husband is deployed to Afghanistan. One of my first and favorite Thai adoption blogs is by Robin and Kyle, who also share about how tough those first few months were. But now, their little boy Tea is doing amazingly well, is completely adorable, and is getting ready to welcome home a little brother from Thailand!

*Adoption is not the only answer. There's an adoption blog called Our Little Tongginator that I have linked to the right. It is not an exaggeration to say that her post on Love and Adoption, taken phrase by phrase from I Corinthians 13, changed my world--or at least my pre-adoptive mindset. But the one that really, REALLY made me think was her post on God and adoption. I don't fully agree with all of her opinions, but the concept she asserts is that adoption is not THE answer. "I believe that God's first choice is for all children to grow up within the loving arms of their biological families." Adoption is a redemptive response to a tragedy, and it is only one of many responses.

As Christians, we are not all called to adopt. But we are all called to take care of orphans and widows. Take care of them--not necessarily adopt them. My take away from Tongginator Mama was that, as an adoptive parent--and even more, as a follower of Christ--I should urgently feel the need to help orphans in this world in many ways. We are choosing to adopt ONE child, and I feel strongly that this is God's will for that child's life and for ours. But what if there was a way for my family to help more children avoid the pain of losing their biological family because of poverty? THERE IS! We can sponsor a child, helping to provide food, clothing and education to a child, so that he can stay with his family. Two of my favorite and reputable sponsorship programs are Holt International and Compassion International.

Many of us have heard the statistic that if 7% of the world's Christians adopted a child, there would be no more orphans in the world. My new friend Sarah a wonderful realization: what if the 93% who are not called to adopt would come alongside those who are? And I'll take it even further: what if [any large percent] of Christians in this world became more active in caring for orphans and reducing poverty--and reducing the need for adoption--in this world? Can you even IMAGINE the impact?! I challenge you to take a step towards educating yourself about the options for caring for the orphans of this world. And please share with me if you have ideas or know of organizations that are making a difference in this way.

*Adoption is beautiful. OK, this is not necessarily new information, but it has been confirmed to me over and over and over again. I'd be remiss in all my blog shout-outs without mentioning one of my most inspirational friends & bloggers, Kristen. This morning she had a great post on her blog about all the things she'd like to tell the world about adoption. Kristen has now become rather famous, and I'm glad to say that we were blog friends, and maybe even real friends, before she had her own driver. Her post today was sweeping and yet specific about adoption issues. You can feel her passion and love for her children and for adoption. But my favorite thing she said, something that gets to the absolute core of "Why are you adopting?" is simple and powerful: "The love of a family is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT." It is this foundation that drives me and excites me in this adoption journey.

And? I will continue to learn...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not really a question: not really an answer.

When I was preggo with Carson, a friend gave me a really sweet book called The Day You Were Born, with places throughout the book for pictures and little places to write in details about the day...well, you get that part. For him: September 22.

When Sydney was born, I ordered the same book and filled it with pics and info about June 26.

Today we were looking at Sydney's book and talking about that day. Everyone was sweet and sappy and smiling as we reminisced. I asked Carson if he remembered the day Sydney was born. He said "Yeah." Then he paused, got a very quizzical look on his face, looked straight into my eyes and said, "But I don't remember exactly how she got out of your tummy."

[blank face. long pause.]

"Mmmhmm. Yeah. What DO you remember about that day? Remember when you came into the hospital room and got to meet her? And you brought her a present? And Daddy let you hold her, and...."

Distraction successful.

For now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Carson moment.

Last night Carson and Trent went on a brief overnight camping trip with some of our friends, Jim and Henry. This morning, the sun woke Carson up very early (they had no watch, but later found out it was about 5am), and so the 2 of them went for a hike while waiting for the other boys to wake up. As they were enjoying the morning and the view, looking out over a waterfall, Trent was feeling very sentimental. He smiled at Carson and patted his head and said "I sure love you, Buddy." Carson smiled back and said, "And I sure love s'mores!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kinda like confirmation. part 2

So something else noteworthy happened this weekend.

First, a little backstory, I was told when we applied to the Holt Thailand program that it was a very small program. It's my understanding that only about 20-25 children are referred from Thailand through Holt each year, and that includes families adopting from the US and several European countries.

After being accepted into the program, I went on Facebook and the message boards and had a great time connecting with other parents in this program across the US--most of whom are also new to the program, are waiting for travel to bring home their kiddo, or have brought their child home in the last year or so. I kept asking around to see if anyone lived at all near me. Would my child ever be able to play with another THAI child? I found a Thai adoptive family an hour north and one an hour south. Someone mentioned another family near my town but the details were mushy.

This last Saturday during our sale, a woman on a bike (wearing a helmet-good job) rode up to our sale with a kid trailer and a couple kids on bikes. I halfway noticed her see our sign that said "100% of profits will go to our Thailand Adoption." She walked straight up to me and said "Who are you adopting through?" I told her and her jaw dropped. She then introduced herself and her 3 adorable children, ages 9, 5 and 4. Two of whom, girls 9 and 4, were adopted through Holt Thailand. She just kept saying "It is SUCH a small program! I can't believe this!" We talked for a few minutes about adoption stuff, and I'm even going with her to an adoptive moms' night out next week. Then she said, "Do you know where I live? In that house right there." People, she lives RIGHT BEHIND ME. If I stand up from this computer and look out the window I can see into her kitchen--not that I'm spying on you, J. ;) I was practically shaking!

Why did we choose Thailand? I've never had a really specific answer for that, other than we prayed about it a lot, I felt it in my gut and we just decided it was the best choice for us. Now we have a family about 20 yards from our back door who have walked through the EXACT journey we are on--twice--who are thrilled to share their story with us. Our kids will be different ages, but we will have a Thai connection (very) nearby. I'm thinking that Carson, Sydney and Peanut may have a Thai babysitter someday soon. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! Uh, yeah. Feels a lot like confirmation to me!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Kinda like confirmation. part 1

Something strange happened this weekend. It is hard for me not to sound overly dramatic, but I just want to recap the situation for you.

At the beginning of July, we have a $3,000 payment due to our adoption agency. We had a little bit of money that could go to that payment, but then a)I dented the van, b)Trent imapled his finger with a lawn thatching spike and we had to take an unplanned trip to the emergency department and c)Carson evidently has very crammed teeth and has 2 little cavities that need to be filled. Three unexpected financial burdens. I was concerned but not panicked. I poured my energy and time into this insane garage sale, which was to begin with a downpour of rain on Friday. Trent (bless his heart) told me he would be happy with $800 from the sale. I was telling people I was hoping for $1000, but secretly wishing we could make $1500 to get us closer to that payment.

We ended up making just around $3050. The EXACT amount of our payment. In our pockets, ready to go. I will never believe that was a coincidence. Rory used a phrase I'd never heard: God funds what He favors. And that was just it.

Throughout these last 5 months of a brand new journey and leap of faith, I've been rejuvenated and found a new passion. But a few times I've had to search my heart and ask Trent and myself difficult questions, like WHY are we doing this? Is this for our glory and attention? We've learned so much about adoption and loss and trauma and attachment, and I found myself asking: Do we have what it takes to parent an adopted child? Was I convincing myself that this was God's will when really I was just reacting emotionally to the Haiti earthquake?

With the results of our sale--especially the way that the financial gain was a direct result of DOZENS of people pitching in to help--I felt almost a physical peace that my God was saying, "I approve. You are doing what I've asked you to do. Now just keep going and trust Me." It may sound overly dramatic or silly-spiritual to you, but that's the way I feel. We are proceeding in His favor, and I cannot think of a better place to be.

But wait..there's more! To be continued...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Can you dig it?

I have a few more things to say about our blessed yard sale (which, by the way, including 2 online donations and some craigslist sells, has now exceeded $3,000), but today I thought I would just leave you with this precious gem:

Saturday, June 05, 2010


I am in shock.

Good shock.

I've cried, stopped, then cried again. I can't stop smiling.

Did I mention we have a $3000 payment due this summer? Did I mention that when we first started the adoption process we truly and strongly felt God telling us that HE would provide if we would just trust Him?

Oh, and by the way, our little Yard Sale that I was hoping would raise $1000?


Are you smiling now too?! I would bet that you are. :) Because you are all awesome and pretty much everyone I know in the world helped with this sale in some way or another. People were praying--for a yard sale! How hilariously awesome. SO MANY PEOPLE donated items--from small picture frames to surround sound speakers and travel systems and expensive cameras. Others donated time--hours spent online doing my craigslist ads and putting up my signs to the hours spent sitting with me at the sale as the shoppers? Kept coming and coming and coming. Constant traffic for 2 straight days, watching our donated items disappearing and our cash box filling. Other friends came from near and far and bought lots of things they didn't need and poured donations into our little jar, and one friend who has made a pledge that will bump us over the $3000 mark.

My cup runneth over? Understatement. My swimming pool is running over. And also my eyes, of course.

Now. I'm going to sleep. For a very, very, very long time.