Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's next?

Thank you, everyone, for all your excitement over our news about Asher! It makes our joy so much fuller when we can SHARE it with friends and family--especially since so many of you have been instrumental in our journey!


Many people have been asking the obvious question--what now? So, here's the scoop. After getting the OK from our pediatrician, we called Holt and said we'd like to officially accept the referral. They sent us a digital packet of forms, which I printed off--57 pages, I believe! We've been reading over them, getting notarized, etc. We've also been getting together our first gift bag for Asher. The restrictions on these gift packages are pretty stringent! It can only have an outfit OR a toy, and a picture book and a letter. It all has to fit in a flat, gallon size zip lock bag. We're also going to put in a disposable camera and hope Holt will allow it! We want the foster family to start taking pictures as soon as possible for us to have in the future.


Instead of going to buy new clothes, I knew I wanted to send Asher some of Carson's baby clothes. It was very bittersweet going through the bins marked "Boy Clothes: 6-12 months" because Asher is probably already too big for some of them. It was also sad for me that out of this huge rubbermaid, I had to choose ONE outfit to pass on. The rest he'll never wear. So after careful consideration, I chose one of my favorite little polo shirts from when Carson was Asher's age. We included some soft denim shorts for the warm Thai weather. We also included a hand-me-down picture book that is meant for babies. It has spots for 6 photos and is soft and slobber-proof. We put a close-up of each of us, with clear labels to be translated, plus one family photo and a cute one of big brother and sister. Here's the shirt we're sending:
After Holt receives our acceptance paperwork, they will send it all, plus our dossier and Asher's file to the Thai Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) Adoption Center. Our case is assigned to a social worker, and she reviews our dossier and our child's file. After the social worker has reviewed the match, she "queues up" the case for formal approval by the Adoption Board. This is called "1st Approval" and it usually occurs about 6-7 months after referral assignment. However, this summer Thailand DSDW (and Holt Sahathai) are all participating in something called Nativeland, which is when Thai-born children who were adopted to families in other countries return to Thailand for a visit. This takes the time, work and energy of all social workers, and we've been told virtually no paperwork will be processed furing the month of July. :( So, I'm thinking 1st approval will not be as timely as we hope. But, we'll cross that disappointing bridge when we come to it!


In the meantime, we can continue to carefully plan our every-other-month care package to Asher. We'll wait with anticipation for an update every three months. We'll learn some Thai phrases and educate ourselves as much as we can about our son's home land and culture. We'll pray, pray, pray for Asher and his foster family, that they will show him the love, affection and security that we so long to provide ourselves.
I got a neat email from a gal who worked in Thailand--both in Bangkok and the more rural areas. She taught school and worked in an orphanage. K sent me a beatiful description of the Thai people, especially those who are not jaded by the tourist industry in Bangkok! She told me what a compassionate culture they have, and wanted to assure me that our son is being cared for in one of the most wonderful countries on earth--with a culture that highly values children and family. She said the Thai people treat their babies like little Princes and Princesses, so she feels confident that Asher is being loved on something fierce! This was a great thought to begin our 9-10 month wait until we can love on him ourselves!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26

Dearest Sydsyd,

Three years ago today I went into labor with you--2 weeks early! I was expecting a Yankee Doodle Dandy baby, but was not disappointed to welcome you early. We were going through a heat wave--it was expected to be 100 on the 26th, and I also didn't mind being in a fully air-conditioned hospital for a couple days. The labor was quick, but not uneventful. Your mama likes to vomit her way through labor (you're welcome for that information, sweetie), and your daddy almost passed out from the awesome combination of bodily fluids involved in the beautiful and disgusting business of giving birth. The NICU nurses were called in to await you, b/c there was a strong concern you had breathed in some meconium. This will all make way more sense to you in about 25 years. But soon after you arrival, you were declared A-OK, gorgeous blue eyes and just enough orange fuzz on your head for every hospital employee to confidently assure me you are a redhead. We also noticed that the two smallest toes on your left foot were fused together! We immediately starting calling them your "special toes." My little Bird, you were easy from the start!
What a delightful disposition you had--a great sleeper who loved to smile!

NOT a great eater, however. Which is partly why you earned the nickname Birdie!

I'll always remember that first year of your life as being a whirl of happiness! You were such a breeze--a bald little breeze.

Your milestones came a little slower than "normal," but we could tell you were just content to take your time and do things your own way.

You learned to crawl at 11 months, and walk at 15 months.

You've got a sweet-tooth like your mama!

One of my greatest joys is watching as you got old enough to start playing with your brother. You guys fight--a lot. But you also love each other and have very tender moments together. I know you will always look up to Carson, and I feel confident that he will never let go of his job as your protector!

Now that you are going to be a big sister, I pray that you will also take on that same role for Asher. A part of your personality that has really developed in the last year or so is your maternal side! You have about 12 baby dolls in the house, and you take turns caring for each of them. Sure they get dropped on their heads or left on the driveway sometimes, but you tenderly feed them, rock them and put them to sleep daily. Most of them are named Baby Kaitlyn, but we refer to them in their descriptive forms: Purple baby, Thai baby, silly-hair baby, brown baby, boy baby, etc.

When this picture was taken (below), on your 2nd birthday, you received your first dress-up dress. It's still one of your favorites, and dressing up has also become one of your favorite past-times. You have a total knack for acting "grown-up" as you put your keys in your purse, put your chapstick on, pack your phone and kiss me good-bye, telling me you're going to drive to work. :)

I love that your sense of humor is developing, and you know when Daddy and I are teasing you! It's fun to play games and jokes with you, and watch you laugh and throw your head back with giggles.

It's pretty clear, however, that you are no longer that angelic infant, sitting happily and watching the world go by. You have found your voice and your opinion! On many mornings you express a strong choice on what you will wear, eat and do. You stomp your feet and clench your fists and shout "NO!" with the best of them. You dawdle--oh my WORD, how you dawdle, girl! I can tell you know when you are pushing my buttons and you like it! You've found that fiestiness that so stereotypically comes with your red locks.

But you still are definitely my snuggler. You're a mama's girl and you want to be with me and preferably sitting in my "yap" many times throughout the day. I can always count on some good cuddle time with you, which warms my heart like you'll never know.
Another one of my favorite things you do is something that hardly anyone ever sees--or rather: hears. When you are doing something on your own, often you'll just burst out into a tune. No tune in particular, but you throw in a mean vibrato just to be dramatic. You sing along to music in the car as well--more than your older brother ever did. It gives me such joy to hear!

Outside of our house, you still definitely have a stoic and rather shy side. People have to spend a few hours with you, usually, before you let your guard down and let them see your silly side. This year we went to Disneyland and you were not interested in meeting any of the Disney characters! But you still had a great time doing your own thing. I know that the girl we know now is just a piece of the young woman you will become, but Syd? I love what I see! Being your mama is one of the greatest joys of my life. Last week we found out that you will be the middle child with 2 brothers. As soon as I knew that you would be my only daughter, I began to cherish our relationship even more! I pray that you will always trust me to protect you, be honest with you, and laugh with you. I know some people don't like the trend of calling their girls princesses--perhaps it can lead to a feeling of entitlement. But whether or not you want to be called a princess, I want you to know that you are the daughter of THE King! You are special, unique, loved, important, beautiful, kind, funny and wonderful. There is not and never will be anyone just like you. My life is richer because I know you, and I'm blessed furthermore to call you my daughter! Happy third birthday, sweet Sydney!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Birthday Surprise

On Saturday, we had already planned an early birthday party for Syd. She officially turns 3 this next weekend, but we'll be out of town. You gotta understand, our "family party" includes both sides of our family and also a few "family members" that have been a part of the gathering since before there were any children for whom to HAVE the parties. We're right at 30 people for a small family party. WHICH, made it the perfect time to share the news about Baby Asher! It was no small challenge to keep this exciting information a total secret for 48 hours. Plus put my energies into planning the party and act like nothing special had happened. I decided I needed to do something special for Syd, so the big reveal wouldn't steal all her thunder, so I brought out my special butterfly cupcakes. (Shhh! They aren't really mine. They're from this book.) I was ready to break away from pink, so we went with teal and lavender. Still feminine, no? Sydney liked them and that's a nice reward for this mama. Also a nice reward is getting a few cute pics of the birthday girl! I'm all about a few cute pics.

Did I mention this was a costume party? We've learned that the princess dresses are pretty but a little itchy, so she has to have a shirt on underneath.

She has no trouble getting into the act.

Also getting into the act? Her brother.

I asked him to make a Jedi pose and this was his first attempt. Hmmm...not exactly what I was going for. Are those jazz hands?! There we go. Much better.

Other people got in the spirit too!

Not everyone got there at the same time, so first we had a little bbq dinner, while I am almost SHAKING with anxiety and excitement, waiting to spill the beans! Big props to Carson, who knew the secret and asked me if he could please tell someone, and obeyed when I said no. :) After dinner, we gathered everyone for "a matching game." I put them all in pairs, and handed each pair an envelope. I told them they all had a picture of someone in the room...either in costume or not in costume. The goal was to walk around and find the group that had a picture of the SAME person as you. It was a game I made up to disguise the fact I was handing them all a picture of Asher! I was trying not to be too bossy when some grown-ups said they didn't want to play or when people were clarifying the specifics of the rules....to the imaginary game.


Then I said "Ready, set, go!" and watched their smiling faces turn to confusion. What? Who? So I jumped in and said "Just kidding! This is our new son!" Yep. Tears. Laughter. Hugs. Perfect! I was very satisfied that my little plan had worked and that no one had any idea. The fact that we got the referral so early was pretty handy.


We took pics of each set of grandparents with their new grandson:

Baby Asher, you have so many people already loving you and praying for you! We long for the day when we can hold you and kiss you. I hope you are ready to be a part of this CRAZY FAMILY!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our new SON!

I'm kind of shaking as I write this, but, my wonderful blog readers...I have a new son! Well, obviously he's not officially ours yet--we haven't even accepted the referral in writing, but we intend on doing just that. It's only been a few days, but we've already mentally added him to our family. He is a healthy, 9 month old (with huge cheeks!), who was born the day after Carson's fifth birthday. (Carson is thrilled with this fact!)

We are going to name him Asher, which means "happy and blessed" which is our prayer for him! (It's also one of the tribes of Judah, by the by.) We love his Thai name, and it will be his middle name--probably will be used interchangeably for many months (forever?) after we bring him home. I don't know if I'll change my mind later, but for now I'm gonna keep his Thai name on the private posts and just refer to him as Asher here.

We only have a few pics so far, but I'm sure you want to see them! The pictures are from December, which is a bummer, b/c he's surely changed so much since then. We have been told that the March pictures should be arriving any day. I put what we have on a protected post and the password is my maiden name (all lower case letters this time). If you don't know the password, please feel free to leave a comment on how I can message you privately, or email me at brazenlilly@gmail.com. If you want the rest of the story, come back and read below! But for pictures, CLICK HERE.

So....THE CALL. I had successfully crammed our month so full that although I daily thought about the call and carried my phone everywhere, I wasn't frantic about it like I was in March. I think that being confident we would get a referral was a COMPLETELY different feeling than the torture of wondering and then being disappointed. On Thursday, Sydney and I were at Michael's craft store when my phone rang. I had a cart full of party and cupcake supplies when I saw who was calling. It was the Holt office in Portland, which was a surprise, b/c I was expecting our contact in the Eugene office, but of course my heart starting racing. In fact, I later realized that in my freak out, I must have been holding a package of paper cupcake liners--because I found them in my purse! Holt has made me a shoplifter! (Don't worry, I returned later and paid for them.)

Our social worker, K, was the one calling. (We are fortunate to live in a Holt state, where the same agency can do both our home study AND all the international stuff.) She was super casual, and her small talk threw me off. I had completely abandoned my cart in the cake aisle and pushed Sydney into the little classroom near the front of the store. I finally said, "Should I be getting excited right now?" and she said "Yes." I was pacing the room at an alarming rate by this time. She told me she was sending me a file on a sweet and healthy baby boy. She told me the birthdate and that's when the tears came. We hung up and I rushed Sydney out of the store, b/c it was 12:15, and Trent has lunch until 1pm. We had agreed to only open the pictures if we were together, and I could NOT WAIT until 5pm. I needed to get to him! Sydney started pitching a fit that we were leaving all her birthday goodies and I broke all parenting rules and just said I would buy her a treat if she hurried. It worked. We headed to the hospital to meet Trent.

To make a long story shorter--we had some complications but finally saw the pictures together...all four of us crowded around the screen at Trent's work. The setting (kids in my lap, Trent controlling the computer differently than I would, kids pushing buttons and moving the screen) did not lend for an ideal first viewing. But when we got home, I put the kids down for nap/quiet time and finally had my mommy moment. I read over Asher's file and had a good long cry for his birth mom. We will not be publicly sharing even the little information we know about her, b/c that is Asher's story to hear first and share. But just knowing some small facts and details made me feel more connected to her and I just grieved. I wept that her loss is now my gain, and what an aching there must be in her young heart. I finally took time to look at the pictures at my own pace and tried to grasp the fact that (because there seemed to be no reason we would not accept) this was OUR SON! I will be the mother of 2 sons and a daughter. Carson and Sydney have a baby brother. He is in Thailand right now, being raised by his foster family. He has no idea what is coming. He's going to be so sad. But then, I pray, he'll be "happy and blessed." So many emotions!


So, that's the scoop. In a couple days I'll write about how we kept it a secret from everyone so we could do a big, dramatic, surprise REVEAL (my favorite!) for both of our families at Sydney's birthday party--which was also a costume party. I think I'll wait a few years to show Asher the pictures of Trent and me in blue wigs holding his picture. It might scar him more than necessary.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Park Passports

I am not one of those moms who has tons of fun plans for the summer. In fact, I have hardly any. But I knew I needed to get started on some sort of agenda to keep us from going insane at home. I read about an idea in a magazine, and I stole it. It's called the "Park Passport." Every Tuesday, we're going to a different park around town. I'll take pictures, and as soon as we get home, Carson (with some help from me and Sydney) will review the park and its features, then give it a rating. This was our first venture! The park got 4 out of 5 stars. I took one star away automatically for not having any restrooms.
Carson took the star away because there was no big slide for older kids. Yes, this was definitely not your mother's play structure.

This park gives me the impression of an architect who was bucking the system.
The boys had fun in this little spinning bucket (And I gave it a try! Somehow no photos of that experiment have survived.) But later our friend Cason got going too fast and was a little worse for wear.

What is this? I do not know. But it provided some fun moments.

After the fact, we learned that this little skateboard thingy can slice your fingers. Good to know!

Then the next day, we had an unplanned park visit when we went north to meet up with the cousins and "cousins." I noticed that I take more pictures of girls than boys. So much for gender equality. But also? They hold still more often. But not always:

I know I say it a lot, but Sydney is ENAMORED of her younger cousin! This girl will be 16 and Syd will still call her Baby Kaitlyn. The aunties were reminding me that this is good! She's ready for a little brother or sister!

You have no idea what IDIOTS Steph and I were making of ourselves (OK, especially Steph) to try to get Kaitlyn to smile. We were calling her Stonewall Kaitlyn. This was what we got:

The big boys played Star Wars...

....and ran a lot....

....and ran some more.

I cannot tell you how many pictures I took of my nephew, Jack! This kid NEVER. STOPS. (Moving or talking.) I finally got one of his face, even though it's shaded by his sweet Nike hat. He is so stinkin' adorable!

Aaaand, just in time for her birthday next week, a new pic of my photogenic middle child. I remember when we were newlyweds, a slightly older couple befriended us and had us over to dinner a few times. They had an adorable little redhead preschool daughter. Trent said she was so cute--I bet they have a hard time disciplining her. Her dad just smiled and said: "Not really." Hahaha! Oh, this little angel has some tricks up her sleeve, let me tell you.