Monday, August 29, 2011

Special Link

I'd like you to welcome a new voice to the wonderful world of blogging! My sis-in-law, Jess has just taken the brave leap over at Choosing Hope. For those of you who have ever blogged (especially the small handful who blog regularly!) you know that in and of itself, blogging is a pretty vulnerable proposition. You share your thoughts and pictures with the world and subject yourself to comments, both good and bad. Or even worse--you get NO feedback whatsoever!

But imagine you were going through the most heart-breaking trial of your life. Imagine if the most personal and intimate details of your body and your life became daily fodder for conversation. Imagine if your private pain was accentuated by the rejoicing and celebrations seemingly surrounding you. Imagine if well-meaning friends and acquaintances accidentally inflicted fresh wounds with their good-natured questions. Now imagine you decided to share these extremely private emotions on a public website!

Jess is choosing to share her journey of infertility on her blog. This journey has already been one of immense sorrow, but as her blog title indicates, she and her husband Chad are choosing HOPE. They are clinging to a God whose decisions they don't understand, but who has promised to never leave or forsake them, even in their darkest hour. I have definitely been in favor of her blogging (whenever she was ready) because I know firsthand that sometimes journaling and sharing your thoughts can be healing and can help sort out conflicting emotions. But I also firmly believe that her story (both the pain and the joy) will be a source of encouragement to another couple who are experiencing similar trials. I'm praying fervently that she will one day look back on her blog entries and see how God worked in her life to bring Jess closer to Himself, closer to her husband, and closer to the experiencing the desire of her heart, to be a mother. I humbly beg you to join me in praying, and/or reading and supporting her on the blog!

Jess also happens to have an incredibly busy job, so I doubt she'll be blogging with extreme frequency, but I hope you'll go check it out and become a follower. (Please note: in your supportive comments, please do not tell Jess that if she could just relax and have a less stressful job, then she would get pregnant. Please and thankyou.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I want to be your internet-era class clown

Last night my mind was wandering and wondering if people who read my blog are also my friends on Facebook...and if they ever read my status updates. Then I wondered if my FB friends ever read my blog. Then I wondered how I became so narcissistic that I think people care what I have to say. And then I felt uncomfortable as I considered writing about Facebook on the blog. It's as if two worlds are colliding. Like introducing old friends to new friends and hoping they have something in common to talk about. The blog would definitely be the older, more traditional friend who wears low-rise bootleg jeans, and FB is the new, trendy friend with jeggings that the old friend isn't sure they will like--they assume that my new friend has some suspect qualities and may lead me astray. And there are some pretty tempting qualities to the new, fashion-forward friend. See, I get much of the same reward from FB that I do from a blog...throw out some thoughts and get almost immediate feedback. I can stay connected to the world beyond a 5 and 3 year old's daytime routine. But I don't have to spend longer than 60 seconds thinking about my comment, and am not allowed to be wordy (140 characters, I think). And I'm pretty sure a lot more people read FB than my blog.

One problem is that FB doesn't really archive. Once I write down a witty comment or funny happening, I get a few affirming comments, then it disappears into the feed and is quickly forgotten. And mostly, that's not a big deal. Really, my mission statement on FB is to use my 140 characters to make someone giggle at something trivial and go about their day. The blog is where I like to do some deeper thinking as well--and we all know that I can't say anything deep without being extremely loquacious. But my favorite thing is to make people laugh.

Who are we kidding? I sometime work long and hard to make people laugh. I can almost pinpoint the moment--the precise joke!-- in my life when I realized how fun it was to be funny. It was the summer between my 8th and 9th grade and I thought I was going to have to switch schools. (I didn't end up having to...long story.) I had one friend at the almost-new school, which was a big ol' public school, way bigger than my almost-last school. She invited me to a sleepover to meet some of her friends. A bunch of girls I didn't know and kind of needed to like me so I would have friends at my new school. I was pretty quiet for a while, until someone started talking about the hippie vibe in Oregon, and how some people take the "natural living" a little too far. I said, in my best valley-girl speak: "Like, totally! I'm pretty sure some of them are using a leaf for deodorant. AND for toilet paper! Hopefully it's not the same leaf." (Not my best material, but not bad for a 14 year old, off-the-cuff.) And these attractive strangers laughed. WITH me. And smiled at me. And directed the conversation to me a bit more. It was like I had finally discovered my secret superpower--sarcastic humor! GOLD. MINE.

Over the years I have honed my craft, used my powers for good and, I'm ashamed to say, sometimes for evil. I've had some hits and many misses. I realized, mostly by observing other people, that self-deprecating humor is the best, most well-loved type. I also learned that people do not appreciate it when they quietly say something funny in a group, and then you repeat the same joke loudly and get the credit. I learned that not everyone will find funny what I find funny. I learned that mockery can be hilarious, but it can get you in relational trouble, and that kind of cheap humor doesn't give you the same high. I am constantly learning and re-learning when to stop being class clown and just shut my trap before I annoy the heck out of everyone around me. Like I said, that is a lesson constantly in progress.

But if Facebook has taught me anything, it's that the best tool in my comedy box own children! When my own funny well is running a bit dry? Bingo! Just repeat one of the bizarre things that has happened around the house and voila: get a few LOL's. Which leads me back to the problem with Facebook--I'm technically "writing these things down" like so many people keep telling me to do, but then my child's great moment disappears. So in an attempt to a)transfer some of my short and sweet comic gems to the blog archive for posterity and b)maximize my laugh audience, I decided to capture a few of my recent FB status updates in this post. Thank you for humoring me.

*Tonight during prayer, this scene happened. Sydney: Dear Baby Jesus... Carson [in a stage whisper]: Sydney! It's not "Baby Jesus." It's just Jesus. JEE. SUS. JUST JESUS!

*Sydney: Car-car, did you toot?
Carson (annoyed): No. YOU did.
Sydney: Oh yeah. Heehee!

*My poor husband had to apologize to a crying boy, after the boy found a used candy wrapper from his parade stash in the garbage. The wrapper was left right on the top. Poor, sweet, amateur husband. Doesn't he know you have to bury the evidence?

*This afternoon I told my kids they couldn't have another snack. In protest, my son dramatically encouraged hi sister to eat grass, since "that's all we HAVE, Sydney." Don't know what was more surprising, that he actually ate it or that she did too. I guess you gotta admire his conviction.

Have you ever walked out of the grocery store, stood there for a few minutes in a panic, called your husband to tell him the car had been stolen, then just as he answered, you realized you drove the OTHER car? Yeah. Me neither.

*GRANDE ICED SKINNY CARAMEL MACHIATO. Huh. I'm pretty sure I heard Oprah and Ellen say that if I told the universe what I wanted that I would achieve and receive it, but that has not happened so far. Wait....let me go outside my front door in case the machiato is out there...

*Earlier tonight I was reading to Carson on the couch and he said "Can you pause it? I have to go to the bathroom." Yes, son. I will pause my vocal chords and this page of paper.

*Today around noon I started chopping up and sauteing vegetables to put in the crockpot. Doing this at that hour was BLOWING MY KIDS' MINDS. They ran in and asked what time is it? Did I already have my nap? Why didn't we get to go to the park today? Is Daddy almost home? Why are you making dinner?!?!

*Me yesterday: Ew. Why does our car stink? Carson: Probably because I put a sea star in there (pointing). Yep. Newly dead starfish tucked behind the driver's seat for 3 days. Awesome.

*My kids love Adele. I feel extremely satisfied with this fact, b/c I used my best manipulative mommy tactics to pretend I DIDN'T like Adele, thus forcing them to instantly crave her music. Picture me smiling smugly at my windshield as we're Rolling in the Deep.

*"Mom, watch this move!" "Wow! That's pretty coo--" "No! That's not it. Watch again." "Oh! That's great bud--" "No, wait! That wasn't it either. Watch one more time." "OK. Yeah! That's--" "No! I didn't get it yet. Just keep watching." (And repeat.)

*Yesterday Carson was conducting "interviews" with me, asking me questions in his most serious journalist voice. Just as he said into the banana/microphone, "This is Carson reporting...." he let out and accidental (and loud) toot. I can't remember the two of us laughing harder--ever! We could hardly catch our breath! I told him I'm sure that happens even to Brian Williams.

*Why are there MORE streaks on my mirror the more I clean it? Oh. Because I'm spraying it with OXY stain remover, not Windex. That's why.

*Tonight Carson told me he couldn't eat my dinner because it had mushrooms in it. "You don't care for mushrooms?" "Well, actually Mom, some mushrooms are poisonous, so basically this meal is pretty dangerous."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Poor Big Brother

We've entered a unique set-up in the sibling situation of our household, and it is this: Sydney is more often, more work than her brother. She's at that adorable 3 year old stage where one minute she is just beyond-words precious and funny, singing new songs, trying new dances, giving hugs and kisses. But the next minute she's pestering, testing, pestering, testing, then throwing in complete and utter defiance (with a smug smile) just for the sake of variety. I've been breaking up many fights lately, and they usually start with her doing something legitimately annoying and naughty, and Carson over-reacting and freaking out in anger.

The other day Carson had just about had it, and he was in tears. He had still over-reacted, but instead of punishing him right away, I just took a minute to hug him and try to console him. I said "I know your sister can be so annoying, and I know you're frustrated. What can we do to make you feel better?" He answered "I would just feel better if Asher was HOME." Oh my heart! Tears sprung to my eyes at this surprising sweet, genuine comment showing his budding love for his baby brother. BUT...

...then he continued: "And I want SYDNEY to go live in THAILAND!" Okay, there it is. Back to normal. Sorry, bud, this is not an exchange situation we have going on here. Soon enough I'm sure he'll have TWO pesky little siblings giving him reason to over-react. I never thought I'd actually look forward to sibling rivalry!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Feelin' the love.

I gotta say thanks for all the really thoughtful and sweet comments and messages ya'll sent after my last post. It really was a huge source of encouragement for me! I felt the love from our friends and family that have been so right here with us through every step. I loved hearing from other adoptive moms...some who are near us in the waiting journey, others just barely home with their kiddos, and still others whose adopted children are grown. They can relate in an intimate way. And other moms related their support as well--and a kinship we share in this whole business of learning to "let go" of our children. Unfortunately, with adoption, I'm learning to let go before I ever have him in my arms, but it's something that continues to happen...whether it's kindergarten, college, or marriage! But one thing that so many of you pointed out was that my intense sadness over not having Asher here is a step of connectedness towards him. Adoptees are not the only ones who have to learn to bond....we as his adopted family need to form an attachment to him as well. As someone pointed out, this mourning is a sign that God is placing a mother's love inside my heart for a child I've never met, who lives half a world away. It's a good, good thing. :)


It also helped that we were able to put together our next care package for Asher and mail it off today. Here's the contents of the package, minus a birthday card Carson made after I snapped this shot. My mom finished Asher's lovey/Minky, we included a special hand-me-down shirt, a photo album, a birthday card and a disposable camera. If you are looking for ways to pray, please pray that his foster family is using the disposable cameras to take pictures of him. :) Stealing the idea from Angie and fam, we took pictures of ourselves giving the polite Thai greeting. (Someone remind me what it is called! I'm too lazy to go check right now.)

This one cracks me up:

The kids were really getting into it:

I'm hoping that these pictures can communicate the story across culture lines...

And PS: Almost five years ago, someone else was wearing that same green striped polo shirt for a very special FIRST birthday. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not my favorite milestone

OK, this is not a great post to have after not blogging for so long, but I'm gonna share it anyway, because I know some other people who can relate! Please allow me to wallow in self-pity for a few minutes. Yesterday I experienced another first in the adoption process...I have my first public cry. (Not counting the happy cry in the corner room at Michaels.) (Or when I got choked up reading the Toddler Adoption book at Chipotle.) This was a real one--a sad one--and I didn't like it one bit!

It's time for us to send Asher's second care package. We're trying to follow the guidelines and keeping it simple. We're sending another disposable camera, more pictures of our family, and a lovey for Asher just like the ones his brother and sister have. But next month is his birthday, so I knew I wanted to send a birthday card too. (I have no idea exactly when our package will arive in Thailand, or when the social worker will visit him, but I'm hoping it's somewhere near his b-day.)

But as I was standing there in Target, looking at all these special birthday cards for a one-year-old, I just lost it. Usually those silly sentiments don't do a thing for me...most of the time I skim them and look for the signature. But as I was reading things like "Your first cake! Your first candle! Your first year has come and gone..." Yeah. I was just overcome with sadness that I am missing it. Despite the truth that other families hold to, that the first few birthdays really aren't THAT big of a deal, since the child won't even realize what's happening, we've still had a nice big shindig for both kids' first birthdays.

I want to stay up late to make Asher a special cake...and watch him eat it! I want to snuggle him and laugh as he is mesmerized by the candle. I want to watch him attempt to grab at wrapping paper, then let his anxious siblings actually do the unwrapping for him. I want to sit back and enjoy the glow as our family and friends celebrate this first year of life and look at how much he's grown.

That's it--that's the thing. He's already grown so much. He might even be walking right now, and I've missed it. First words? I'll miss that too...and I probably wouldn't even understand them. I know in my head that he'll be home before his second birthday and we'll have every other birthday of his life to celebrate with him...even until he is tired of making a big deal about birthdays. But I don't think I will ever get over my mourning for missing this first year and a half. We got a call that we probably will not travel until April, which seems another world of wait away.

So, I chose my card. It's not especially significant or meaningful, just one that didn't make me cry too hard. And we WILL celebrate his birthday, even though he won't be here to eat his cake. And I probably will hit a major speedbump of sadness...maybe even after he's home? But right now, I'm snuggling up on that little lovey and sending my love with it, and I find a smile thinking about him sleeping with it a world away from me. And I know most days will be better than this.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Had to be there?

OK, I'm going out on a limb to describe a funny Carsonism, but I can't give it to you verbatim, so it might not translate. The reason is, his comment included the name of our hometown, which I guard pretty closely on this little bloggy thing. I think I have mentioned that we live on the west coast, so I went to google maps and found the first little west coast town I clicked on. It was Millville. So, for this story, our Brazenlilly family lives in Millville:

Carson and I were watching a show where a character was going to Thailand to visit her grandmother. I said "Oh! Carson! Did you hear that? Her grandma is from Thailand, so that means she is part-Thai!" He said, "Just like Asher! But only until he gets here. When he gets here, he'll be part Thai/part Millville."

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Bed, My Deep Thoughts

Last night I slept in a nice bed. The mattresses are really high-quality, given to us as a wedding gift by someone who works in the business. They even have our names embroidered on the side! Oh yes. You read that correctly. The frame is wrought iron and bought from a friend when they were moving. Just for fun I bought a bunch of paint and made it red. So, my bed is comfy AND pretty. The sheets, while not a crazy-high thread count, are also nice and I chose a pretty cute style on them...small red flowers. I have a pillow that cost something like $30. For a pillow! It's a memory-foam pillow that was originally Trent's, which he loaned to me when I was pregnant with Carson and having trouble sleeping...and which I never gave back. I love that thing and take it everywhere.


When we got in bed, it was pretty warm, so we had the a/c on low. I read for quite a while. Just for enjoyment, with a light sitting on my nightstand. I didn't doubt for a second that the light would turn on, or think about the electricity bill. Then before I fell asleep, I turned the a/c off, and just let the ceiling fan blowing on us. It has 3 speeds, so we chose the medium speed. Then in the middle of the night, I was a bit chilly, so I covered up with one of my 3 blankets.


My kids each cried out in the night once (maybe twice?). It didn't startle or worry me. I knew they were safe and they, too, have pretty comfy beds. And their own rooms, decorated especially for them. Full of toys and clothes. One just wanted to be re-tucked in and one needed to go to the bathroom. So I took her across the hall to our bathroom, where she and her brother had both been washed clean in the tub earlier that night. We flushed away her pee and didn't have to think about it again. Even in our sleepiness, we washed our hands with soap and water, because it's a habit. I tucked her in where she quickly fell asleep without a care in the world, except for the 1.5 seconds she couldn't find her lovey. Then I got back in my comfy bed and realized: this nightly routine is just a scratch on the surface of a life of abundance that I take so for granted.


How many millions of people in this world do not have a bed to sleep on? Do they have a roof over their heads--and if so, is it more than a piece of corrugated metal or a blue canopy? What are their pillows made of? What do they do when it is too hot? How many blankets can they choose from when it is too cold? How do they keep the possibly-diseased-infected insects away from their children while they sleep? And in many places, vicious insects are the least of the predators putting their children at risk--the human kind being the most terrifying. When they have to go to the bathroom in the night, how far do they walk? And how easily is the human waste removed from their daily activities? How difficult is it and how often can they bathe their children in clean water? Can they wash away germs with the flick of a faucet and the squirt of liquid soap? What nightmares do these children suffer through, and are their minds so greatly eased when they wake up to reality?


As I laid in bed, a feeling of gratitude washed over me. A sharp ache of the undeserving. And the unmistakable sting of conviction. See, I'm having some people over tonight, some of whom have never been to our house. And all weekend I've been kind of pouting and stressing that our house is...inadequate. It's really small and the floor-plan is strange. Our furniture is the same it was over 10 years ago, and the decor is also the same. There are dents and scratches in the wall and the laminate is warped. Don't even get me started on the carpet stains! Having a bunch of people over often sends me into furies of discontentment. But it took an uneventful 2 am potty break to snap me back to the truth: I am rich. Our family is blessed beyond measure, and a majority of people in this world could only dream of living in a house this nice, this large.


And because I think God has a sense of humor, and maybe he wanted me to connect in a more personal way with those families who live so differently than us...Trent and I each woke up with some bug bites. It seems some little insect (although I doubt disease-carrying) found its way into our peaceful bed. Ew! I was a little creeped out, but instead of being mad, I just smiled as I stripped those pretty red flowers, threw them into my automatic washing machine, which I can put on a HOT cycle, and thanked God that I am fortunate enough to have an extra set of sheets.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Memory Lane--music edition

This one cracks me up, b/c it is a true little glimpse into the secret life of the B-lilly fam. Yes, Husband really does make up songs and sing them wildly all the time. Yes, the kids eat it up and dance around. Yes, Carson rarely has pants on (see: previously given nickname Pantless Wonder and also the videos below, taken almost 2 YEARS later!). And yes, I have a strange little noise that I make to scracth my throat and normally only people in my inner circle know about you'll all hear it!

This is similar to one that I took on my camera's movie mode and posted a few months ago. My favorite parts are a)it is clearly December with the stockings up, and yet Sydney is in her swimming suit, b) Carson still has no pants on and c)this is a side of Syd's personality that is rarely seen outside of this house.

This one is the bonus track, b/c yes, it was taken at the same time, but sometimes you just have SING. Sing, sing, sing to the Lord. (Or Lowd.)

Monday, August 01, 2011

I'm in heaven!

About 3.5 years ago, Trent surprised me and got me a nice little digital camcorder for our anniversary. I was excited and used it quite a bit for the first few months, including downloading the software that came with the camera and was supposed to make it ALL! SO! EASY! Well, the first time I uploaded all the new videos, I could not post them, I couldn't burn a disc, couldn't put them into our (very basic) video editing software, and could only watch the videos in that particular software. I'm SURE there was a way around it, but I am not that savvy and after trying a few times I just got frustrated. We still use the camcorder every once in a while, but not as much as I would have if it had been more user-friendly...especially since I often want to post it on the blog!

WELL. Tonight I finally took the time to sit down and check it out. We had to get a new computer earlier this year, and I decided to try NOT using the software that came with the camcorder. Guess what? I'm enjoying a good decision! I can now see all the videos I've taken on the camcorder, uploaded them to our hard-drive and external HD, AND I can post them on the blog! Things may get a little video heavy here for a few days if this goes well.

So, especially all you family members....enjoy!

I think this bath video was around May, 2009. My baby girl!

This was also 2009, I think April. I love his laugh!

This was taken this evening, August 1, 2011. You can tell in the interview portion of this video that I got my wish about an adventurous princess--as Syd took a header on the concrete running full-force yesterday. And my apologies for the finger covering the lense...she wanted to see herself as we shot the vid...and that meant I couldn't see the screen. Amateur move!