Friday, September 30, 2011

Hold me over.

Our "September Update" on Asher almost did not live up to its name.  In fact, when we got an email today, we were told that the information we received is not the official pre-adoption child update--that will be coming soon.  It had one picture and a short description of his social worker's check up with him.  Holt Sahathai Foundation, which is Holt's partner agency in Bangkok, just transitions to a new database for their child management system (all children waiting to be matched, waiting to come home and also sponsored children who will hopefully stay with their bio families).  In short, I don't understand all the details, but we got a picture!  Just one so far, and hopefully the "official" update will come in a couple weeks with more (and better quality) pictures.

I'm gonna stick with the private blog for pictures....for now.  Click HERE for the link that that one photo.  The password is my maiden name, all lower case letters.  If you don't know it but would like to see it, feel free to email me at or leave a comment with your email address.  And I'll send you the background check information.  Ha!  I kid.

Asher's report says that he is very attached to his foster family, especially the mother.  In fact, the social worker reports that his gross motor skills are slightly delayed because the foster mother "always helps him in all aspects."  He can sit with minimal assistance and can stand while holding onto furniture.  He has two lower teeth.  :)  The report says that he recognizes all of the foster family (mom, dad, 2 sisters, and a gma), and enjoys being held by all of them.

I can imagine my pediatric physical therapist of a husband can't wait to get his hands on a slightly delayed, very loved little man!  I appreciate hearing these details, and imagining Asher being just loved on all the livelong day.  Would I maybe do things differently than the foster mom?  Probably.  But how happy am I that a minor delay is because he is being doted upon?  Very.  Often times delays in adopted children have to do with NOT being held or stimulated enough! The social worker reported that she gave tips to the parents about how to help give Asher get down on the floor with more space to explore and increase his balance and strength.  ;)  She also suggested less bottles and more solid food.

These long-awaited reports have 2 affects on me.  First, they make me giddy and more in love with my son!  But second, they make me just a little sad because I want to be with him!  To just grab that little body up out of that walker and snuggle his cheeks!  But each report, and each month, and each day is a day closer to Asher's homecoming.  When we finally meet him face to face, he probably won't be in the mood for cheek-snuggling just yet, but I'll settle for a stolen kiss on that semi-bald head.  Please keep praying for the Thai government to catch up on all the adoption processing that was neglected during the hiatus this summer.  Our April travel is not guaranteed, and more delays might just break my heart in two!

More dreams fulfilled.

 I am blessed with amazing in-laws.  They are loving, godly, generous and kind.  And they love their grandkids!  My mother-in-law is definitely a girlie girl.  Her favorite color is pink and she's a big fan of the manicure/pedicure.  She knows the entire family tree and life story of her favorite nail salon workers.  I'm not sure how many minutes or hours it was after we announced that our second child was a girl before she started dreaming of taking little Brazenlilly Babygirl to get all dolled up at the nail salon.
Well, that day finally arrived!  With Carson having kindergarten every day, it opened up an opportunity for Mimi to have a special day with just Sydney.  Their first stop?  Mani-Pedi!

 Mimi said that Sydney held VERY still throughout the whole ordeal (miracle) and she wouldn't say a word.  Apparently, the workers were all smitten with this quiet and shy (haha) little redhead. 

The end result was darling!  I think Sydney thoroughly enjoyed her afternoon of pampering.  And I'm pretty sure it will not be her last.  I love that our soon-to-be middle child is the only girl, because it opens up some fun opportunities for special one-on-one time with the loving grown-ups in her life.  Thanks, Mimi!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Livin a dream.

The other day my mom asked how soccer season was going.  This is Carson's first year in semi-competitive soccer club (meaning they actually have games against an opponent, not just camp, but they still don't keep score), and Trent is the coach.  I told my mom that they are having fun and casually said that Trent was fulfilling a lifelong dream.  She kind of chuckled, as though maybe I was being sarcastic.  (It's been known to happen.)  But I told her I was being totally serious: Trent has talked about being a soccer coach for his kids since before we were married and he was still a commitment-phobe college student.  It literally was one of the first conversations we had after we found out we were pregnant.  And the icing on the cake is: he's really, really good at it.
 Being barely six, Carson doesn't show any prodigy-level skill or obsessive passion for the sport, but he's having fun goofing around with his friends.

 Trent will be the first to point out that he is perhaps a little more...shall we say passionate? than some of the other coaches.  He walks up and down the field during games giving encouragement and instruction. 
 And as five and six year olds are wont to do, they often ignore him.
 But they're all having fun and the players' parents really appreciate Trent and he appreciates their involvement.  The other day Carson came home with an Upward basketball brochure, which he's old enough to do this winter.  Without missing a beat, Trent took one look and said "Oh yeah!  Definitely!  I want to coach you!  We can do this, buddy."  And I kind of raised my eyes, surprised at the lack of discussion over the decision.  I said, "Is this how it's gonna be?  We just jump from sport to sport and you coach and we spend our lives going to games and practices?" 
And Trent's eyes lit up and with a huge grin he said "YEP!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The force was strong with him.

 We did, indeed, celebrate Asher's birthday on Friday night.  Here's some awkwardly posed self-timer shots with the camera propped up on the BBQ.  Probably should have called a neighbor over.  Or maybe I need a tripod for Christmas?  Anyway, we ordered from our fave Thai place and had cupcakes.
 Ignore the children's strange vacant stares and see if you can find the cupcake?  Some friends and family surprised us with homemade cards and even gifts for Asher!  (Not to pick favorites, but someone found a Thai lullaby book.  I know!)
Then it was back to working on Carson's cake and party for Saturday.  We knew it was going to be a busy week and really busy Saturday--so against Carson's wishes, I opted for yet another smallish family and "family" party, instead of inviting all his buddies.  I wavered on this decision, but when the day arrived I was really glad.  I was exhausted and glad it was a small and laid back group.
Of course, I put some effort into the cake.  It's my thing!  It was no pirate ship, that's for sure.  Carson looked on Google images with me for a looooooong time and found a cake that I thought I could emulate in a amateurish version.  It as my first time doing a full fondant covering on a cake, and I felt really happy when this step was finished:
 The cake turned out to be a lot shorter than the one in the picture, so I didn't have room to put "Star Wars" on the side.  Carson was bummed that aspect was missing, until he saw his very specifically requested action figure, General Grievous, was on top, and was told that he gets to keep it.  To be totally honest, I don't even know who Grievous is.  And also, yeah, those are light sabers on the cupcakes.  Just...accept it.

 This is the happy birthday boy posing with an imaginary light saber.
 The one activity we planned and stuck with was stolen, er, borrowed from our friend Isaiah's party!  The adults helped the young Jedi's make their own light sabers out of pipe insulation and colored duct tape.  Thank goodness I sent Trent to buy the duct tape, because he and Carson knew exactly what colors to buy and which character uses which color. 
 This is my brother trying to act casual and not look at the camera.

 Henry has taken lessons from the Carson School of Jedi Jazz Hands.
 Remember I recently mentioned that I love when people don't take themselves too seriously?  Case in point.  Aunt Sarah, who is always gorgeous and put-together, came in Princess Leah buns for the occasion.  Just to be fun and silly.  I love it!  Carson saw her and just started grinning!  He told me later that he thought that was really cool.  His exact words were "I saw Aunt Sarah and I was, like, 'Wow! Her hair looks like Princess Leah!'"  We're working on weeding out the valley girl language.
 My favorite memory of this moment was that Carson was singing Happy Birthday (to himself) at the top of his lungs, right along with everyone else.   This is that innocence I mentioned in his birthday post!
 Sometimes cousins can help blow out candles too.
 Seriously?  Seriously.  How can you not love this girl?  After this cupcake, she snuck around to the table and got ahold of another one.  She gave it a nice big lick across the top before I noticed!
 This was my favorite thing about the whole party.  We chose a park with a rather lame playground, because it's fully fenced and not very popular! So the kids pretty much had the place to themselves and just ran around playing Star Wars as the sun set. 

 And some people enjoyed the cupcakes more than others.
 I know this is blurry, but it totally cracks me up that this is how the girls were playing with the sabers: wrapping them around each other's necks and poofing up each others hair.  If Carson saw this, he would greatly disapprove.
 Feeling really grateful for my birthday boy and all the people who love him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A bittersweet ONE

The fact that I've been kind of dreading this day just reminds me of how different things are for a waiting parent.  We should look forward to our children's birthdays, showering them with love and hugs, annoying them all day long with the shock and surprise at how fast they are growing, how well we remember them as babies.  Of course this birthday DOES remind me of how fast Asher is growing--in a different home.  I am confident that he is well taken care of, but today of all days that is just not enough to comfort this mama!  Of course the pain is pretty sharp this morning, but we are also busy with his big brother's birthday celebrations, so fortunately I haven't had lots of time to wallow in my pity.  We are having a small and purposeful celebration tonight (for Asher), partly for us and partly for the pictures to show him in years to come.  And everytime I think of him today, I'm just saying a prayer that he feels loved and secure, that he is healthy and safe.  (The flooding is still persistent in Thailand--but I'm kind of trying not to dwell on that.) And a common thread through my prayers is for quick and efficient government protocol so we can get to Thailand SOON!
The first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning was Asher's birth mother.  I wonder if she is feeling weepy today too.  This date is surely burned into her soul. It must feel like yesterday that she gave birth to him, named him, and made that agonizing hand off when he was 4 days old.  I'm praying for her too.  Our hearts are both aching today, I know.  But my ache is one of longing and hope for the future.  I hope she has a part of her ache that is sweet as well, knowing her choice for his life will bring him into a loving family who waits (sometimes) patiently to hold him and care for him until he is old and gray.
You should all know that part of what fills me up, part of what makes this wait manageable is knowing how incredibly loved our son already is!  The outpouring of support and love for this little Thai baby none of us has ever met just melts me.  I hope that someday his heart will grasp that vast, unconditional love that was waiting for him across the ocean.  I know that I'm grasping it and feeling it today, and because of that I know I can get through it.
Happy first birthday, my precious, precious son!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How did this happen?

His birthday is technically tomorrow, but I needed to post it tonight!
Oh, buddy.  How did our little man, our firstborn, our Carcar turn SIX YEARS OLD?  Wasn't I just waking up at night with you?  (Actually, yes, you did wake me up in the middle of the night last night.  We need to work on that.  But at least you go back to sleep much more easily these days.) 
 I've learned so much and grown so much as a person since you came into my life..sometimes I feel like you teach me as much--if not more--than I teach you!
 Carson, you are a special kid.  There's just no two ways around it.  Long before you could speak, you had a way of making your presence known and settled for no less than our full attention.  And once you learned to talk....your personality just FLOURISHED!
 You say and do the funniest and most frustrating things.  Once, when you were four, you got mad at me, and the way you expressed your anger was to totally mutate my Wii avatar--you made me an amazon sized woman with a mullet, a mole, huge glasses and a mustache.  Sometimes you are a little naughty genius!  And of course, there's the infamous "locking mommy out of the house" story. 
 Right about the time this picture was taken, you and I went on a trip to California together.  It was a pretty exhausting trip, bud.  I'm not gonna lie.  And as we were getting ready to board our last flight, I was letting you run off some energy in the airport, and you ran straight into the men's room.  Full speed ahead.  I had no other choice but to call out a warning and come in after you!

 But that eager curiosity has led to some wonderful conversations about life, God, family, adoption, poop, death, stranger-danger, ear wax, color-blindness, prosthetic limbs, car engines, cowboys, recycling and many, many more topics.

 In some ways, you seem very smart and mature to me. You have mastered the art of sarcasm. (But who are we kidding?  You learned from the master.) There are a few movies and TV shows that we can actually watch together and both laugh at and enjoy!  It's fun to play board games like Sequence and Uno and YOU CAN BEAT US! 

 You have your own sense of fashion, which varies by day.  There are many days when you care a great deal about what you will wear, and other days when it only matters what feels soft against your skin. Yesterday you actually told me you couldn't wear a pair of jeans because you could only lift your knee up to your chest.  I'm not sure exactly how much higher you were planning to lift those knees!  The clothing thing is just an example of several ways that you and I kind of butt heads. We both have expectations of how things are going to be, and we both get frustrated when things don't go like we planned.  I have a feeling we'll be figuring this out for years to come.  But no matter what conflict or argument we have, no matter how many times I mess up and lose my cool, I hope I always make it clear to you that YOU are what is most important to me!  My relationship with you is far more precious than any plans or ideas or opinions I have.  And sometimes when I don't get my way, we get some special fashion moments like this one:
 It would be detrimental for me to record this stage of your life without remarking on your passionate interest in Star Wars!  You were casually interested in the series after playing the Lego/Star Wars video game, but your real excitement took root after you had Jedi training and fought Darth Vader at Disneyland earlier this year.  What a special moment that was!  Our lives have been filled with all things Jedi ever since.
I think one of my favorite things about you, Carson, is your innocence and excitement for life.  As much as you are growing and learning and maturing, you still have moments when you are my little boy.  You still want to snuggle on the couch on many nights, and still want me to read to you at night and lay down on your bed and sing you songs.  I got to teach your Sunday School class a few weeks ago, and you were in the FRONT ROW, singing those songs at the top of your lungs, doing every single motion with all your heart.  You may be a stinker at home sometimes, but you haven't reached that place where you act like you are too cool for us.  I'm dreading that day, because I love being with you.
 Recently a friend of mine shared that she had chosen life verses for her children.  I can't believe I haven't thought of that sooner!  But I'm kind of glad that it took me this long, because now I know you and your personality, more than I would have if I had chosen this at your birth. It took me only about 3 minutes to find the right verse. (Of course you can choose your own someday, but this will be mine for you.)  Ever since we discovered that you have a will of iron, I have prayed for discernment for you.  How will you use your charismatic personality and your leadership?  My greatest wish is that you will know God and seek God, and that He will give you discernment.  So this, my sweet, funny, smart and handsome boy, is the Scripture verse--actually verses-- that I have chosen for you, and I will pray it over you constantly.  I know you may not fully understand it right now, but someday I believe you will.
Philippians 1:9-11
"And this is my prayer, that your love will abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God."
I love you forever, sweet boy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"I survived the Warrior Dash!"

That's what the t-shirts say, and that's what I say!  The Dash (as those of us who know the course intimately can call it) was SO. AWESOME.  I'm not kidding!  Yes, it was hard.  Yes, it was filthy muddy.  Yes, the obstacles were crazy.  Yes, I overexerted my out-of-shape-self into a very near vomit situation more than once.  And yes, I will be one of the first to sign up again for next year!  One of my favorite things in this world is to be with people who don't take themselves too seriously.  This place was SWARMING with people who did not take themselves seriously.  We were in the minority by not having a funky costume to race in.  We saw lots of tutus (men and women), lots of kilts, and even a couple guys running in FULL business suits, including briefcases.
 This photo-log is a combination of pictures from my mediocre camera, Mike and Jim's much-better-quality cameras, and pictures I got from the internet. 
We got these stylish hats as part of our swag.  These are the girls I ran/walked/hiked the course with.  Tristan, Michelle and Kristen.
 This picture cracks me up.  We are so naive.  So pumped with adrenaline.  So clean.
 The race starts out with a bang--our wave in particular, which was the first of the two day event.  You run for about 20 yards on a steady flat trail, then there's a very intense hill.  I don't remember seeing many people running up that.  Almost everyone started walking immediately, save for a few annoying go-getters.  To spice things up, the race organizers had failed to notice that the trail went right smack dab through a yellow jacket nest.  We kept hearing people hooting and hollering in front of us, but I thought they were excited for a small downhill slope.  Nope.  They were being stung.  Michelle and Kristen both got stung twice, as did Becky and Jenna in the next wave.  We were still reeling from that fun surprise when we saw our first obstacle.  The volunteer who was working this obstacle told us "Say goodbye to dry!"
It's called Deadweight Drifter.  You have to wade into the pond (which we were promised would only be WAIST-HIGH, and clearly was deeper in most spots) and somehow get over all the floating logs.  (click to enlarge for a better view.) This is a picture from another friend of our obstacle during a different wave.  It was not that crowded when we were there, but getting over the logs was a huge challenge!  No preparation was adequate for the feeling of just walking straight into a lake, fully clothed.  The muddy floor of the water was randomly full of holes and hills, which was...interesting.    To add insult to injury, Kristen got a deep scrape/shallow cut on her leg while hurdling the logs. 
 This isn't a picture from our race, but our next obstacle was similar to this.  It's called Road Rage, and first you have a field of tires to hop through, then you climb over several wrecked out cars.  This is interesting when the cars are wet and muddy from all the people who were ahead of us (so, lots of people) who were dripping from the lake.  This was also the place where poor Kristen had to stop and talk to a medic to get her leg bandaged up.
 This is the Warrior Wall.  It was kind of intimidating.  I'm not used to climbing a wall while holding onto a rope.  But the most unnerving thing was at the top, when you straddle the wall and climb down the other side. 
 Here's Becky and Steph on the Warrior Wall!  Woohoo!
 This obstacle is called Rubber Ricochet, and by the time we got there, all the fast runners were ahead of us, and all the slow walkers were behind us, so we had the place to ourselves.  It was not very difficult.
 I wish I had a picture of the front of this next obstacle.  This was not the Deadman's Drop from our race.  First, that drop you see did not have a lovely step.  Ours was just a big ol' wall of plywood.  And the other side is another climbing situation, but the top had a very strange, rectangular thing that was leaning against the direction you're climbing.  Being at the top of this was one of my least favorite moments, but Tristan and I talked each other through it.  Then you grab the top of that wall with your fingers, hang down (we chose to face the wall) and slide down, hoping you don't get splinters on your face or your muffin top.
 When we reached this obstacle--can't remember what it's called, but I call it over/under--the really fast, competitive people who started 30 minutes after us started catching up.  So suddenly we had some very in-shape people crowding up in our space and getting irritated that we were in their way.  I kind of pushed through this pretty quickly--you have several walls about 4 feet high to hurdle, and in between each one, you have to get on the ground and go under a barb-wire fence.  Five of each, I think?  Well, after this up/down/hurry situation, I entered what I call "The Vomit Zone" where I can't talk, can't run and can't hold still, or I was 100% sure I would toss my cookies right in the path of all those muscular guys on my tail.  It lasted a few minutes, then I was able to walk it off.  Whew!

 There were a few more obstacle I didn't get a picture of, like one where you go up rickety, 3 foot-high "steps" and then slide down an equally-rickety fireman's pole.  And also a few non-official obstacles, like when we got to a shallow ravine and everyone had to rappel backwards for 10 feet or so.  THEN, we got to another Big Hill.  It was a killer!  I welcomed myself back into The Vomit Zone, even finding a designated puke tree, but somehow escaped without total dignity loss.
We had heard that the best way to cover this cargo net bridge called Chaotic Crossover was to roll.  I tried that and it HURT!  So I animal walked it like these folks here:
Soon we knew we were reaching the last portion of the course, b/c I saw our friends with their cameras.  I remember hearing the guys cheer for me and it gave me a boost!  Even though this cargo wall was high, there was so many places to hold on, it didn't seem difficult.  Here's Tristan and me near the top.

 I don't have a real picture of me doing the fire jump, but Sport Photo did.  I tried to copy the link here, but it's not letting me.  It's a good pic, but I'm too cheap to pay the $20 for a 5x7.  Then we entered the last obstacle, the piece de resistance of the whole thing: the muddy mayhem.  It's a huge, man-made mud puddle with barbed wire over it.  You crawl through and are forced to get filthy.  It's great!
 I think this is a shot of Steph, Becky, Sarah and Jenna?  It's hard to tell!
 Tristan and I making our way through...
 At the finish line!  We did it!

Here's me with the BCC crew...the ones who talked me into this crazy idea.
 I was trying to get a picture of my chip, which was crazy disgusting.  This was after I "washed off."  The Dash people have a huge pile of yucky shoes where you can donate your shoes to be cleaned and given away to charities.  The socks went in the garbage.
 By the time we finished, Kristen's cut didn't look great--and was covered in mud!  So she stopped to have it cleaned up a bit.  And her and Michelle's bee stings were getting really sore!  They are true warriors.
 All participants get a free beer and we splurged and got a huge turkey leg.  Just look at that thing!  We couldn't resist.  But in truth, I really wanted this picture.  I don't like beer and the turkey leg was mostly salty turkey skin and fat.  I gave the beer away and tossed the rest of the leg.
This might be my favorite shot of the day.  We were mostly divided between 2 waves all day, but we all "washed off" together in the lake at the end.  I could tell the husbands were rolling their eyes at our dramatic, girlie talk as we relived the race while standing in muddy water.  But we were all pretty darn proud of ourselves.  And we were already planning our costumes for next year!