Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WHY?

Oh, this girl. She is 2 yrs and 9 months old. (The exact age her brother was when she was born.) I just love her to pieces. I think I kiss her about 259 times a day. She's so silly and so cuddly. She loves dressing up, Nemo, anything with sugar, her Minky, her brother and her fwends.
Also? She LOVES to ask "Why?"
The whole "Why? Why? Why" anecdote is like a typical party-story for moms and dads. It's a stereotype you hear about before having kids, and you kind of assume it's an exaggeration. But it's not. (Also? Kids really do say: Are we there yet?)

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My parents always told me that when I would ask "Why?" continually, they would say something nonsensical in response, just to see if it would shut me up. (My words, not theirs.) Their favorite example is "Last Tuesday on the piano." Well, I've taken that plan of attack and put my own spin on it. I've decided that after the second "Why?" I will respond with a formulaic dependent clause. (Heehee! Oh my word, I love being a grammar geek.)

Basically, it's like my very own Mad Lib. It looks like this:

"Because the [adjective] [noun] [verb]."

Sometimes, if I'm feeling really sassy, I'll throw in alternate formulas, like:

"Because, Sydney, the [adjective] [noun] [past tense verb] [adverb]."

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I just look around the room for inspiration and fill in the blanks with the most random words possible. Here's some examples from this week.

"Because the chocolatey spoon is hiking."

"Because the spotted clock left so quickly."

"Because, Syd, the purple window drips."

"Because the prosthetic nose walked aimlessly."

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It honestly amuses me to no end.

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But the most fun part was when I explained to a confused Carson what I was doing. He, too, is subject to the "Why?" routine from sis, and I thought I would let him in on this little secret/coping mechanism. Today in the car, Syd had "why'd" him one too many times, and he said with a smile: "Be-CAUSE, Sydney, the ice cream walked across the street!"

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It was a win-win. Sydney halted her questioning and Carson and I shared an inside joke.

Hee!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Aaaaaand...wait some more.

Although we have not received the official word from Holt regarding how many referrals were made in March, I'm fairly certain that we will not be getting a match to our child this month. Strangely, as each day went by and there was no call (despite my sometimes embarassing DASH to the ringing phone--even once leaving the shower dripping wet), I became more and more accepting of the situation. I'm bummed. But not heartbroken. The reason I think I'm not devastated is that March was a longshot for us. We knew that. Now, if we get to June 30 and no call? There's going to be some strongly worded prayers. And blog posts. And pretty much general this-wait-is-going-to-kill-me brand of freaking out.

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But something that helps eleviate the pain of three more months was this: the reason I'm pretty sure that we will not get a referral is that I know of at least one referral that was made over a week ago. A precious, healthy boy was matched with a great couple that I've had the chance to just briefly get to know in this online world. This is their first child. There was a time this month when J & A thought that they would not get a match either--despite being #2 on the list. Now, this would be devastating for anyone, but J pointed out that after trying for almost 5 years to have a child, an additional and unexpted 3 months was just almost more than she could bear. As soon as I read her words, absoluting feeling the joy overcoming the sorrow, I was filled with joy FOR them! I thought I would be pretty envious of whomever got their referral this month, but I couldn't be more ecstatic that they were the ones.

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I am curious to get our post-referral update from Holt to see how many families were matched with their children. Of course I'll keep you posted as we move on up the list and anxiously await our turn to see our babe's face.

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But as a distraction, we've tried to participate in a few other families' adoption fundraisers. Here's C and S sporting some shirts we bought to support the Andersons (leaving for Thailand THIS WEEK to pick up their Siri!) and the Carters, adopting from Ghana. Go to their blogs for info on how to get your own! Now I think it's my turn to get a shirt, which I plan to do to support Lee and Rory's adoption (Ethiopia). If you're interested, just be sure to specify their name at checkout.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Choices.

**FYI, we have not received THE CALL. I'm pretty sure this is not our month to be matched with a kiddo. I know of at least one other family who received a referral last week. I'm really OK with it. Will collect my thoughts and process more fully later this week when we know with 100% certainty.**

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We have a consistent struggle in this house that just might be the death of me. I'm pretty sure it's completely age appropriate, and is only a phase, but my adorable little Birdie is right smack in the middle of this particular phase. So what's a mother to do? Blog about it, of course! If I can't figure out my own problems, at least I should let others in on the ridiculousness so we can laugh together, right? That's rhetorical. Unless you agree with me, in which case, feel free to answer outloud.


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It's the issue of CHOICES. You know THEY SAY that you should give toddlers and preschoolers lots and lots of choices. THEY SAY it helps them feel like they have a little control in this cruel world run by grown-ups. "Would you like the blue cup or the green cup?" "Do you want to wear jeans or khakis?" THEY SAY that you should only offer two choices, and give them 10 seconds, after which time, you will make a choice for them. THEY seem to think that if you have to make the choice for the child enough times, that the child will learn more efficient decision-making skills. THEY might be mistaken.


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Miss Syd has SO MUCH TROUBLE making choices. She labors over decisions until I absolutely force her hand, and then she inevitably regrets the decision and wants to change. And change again. She focuses so much on the option that doesn't "win" that she basically mourns it. Let me just replay to you a couple situations to explain the frustration.


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Scenario 1: After lunch, the kids get to choose one sweet. In our freezer right now, we have fruit popsicles, little mini-peppermint-patties, or choco chips (they can get 7 in a cup as an option). Every day, Sydney requests to be HELD in front of the OPEN freezer. "I CHOOSE," she says clearly. Last week, in a rare display of decisiveness, she chose a peppermint pattie. She did not have her feet on the ground before she changed it again to a popsicle. I told her if she gave me the peppermint pattie she could trade for a popsicle. She clinched it tighter and said NO. So I closed the freezer and walked away. I am not exaggerating, when I say that Sydney followed me around the house for upwards of 50 minutes, crying dramatically, saying in her own little language,"You TOLD me I could have a popsicle!!" To which I replied about a zillion times, "I told you you could CHOOSE a popsicle OR a chocolate mint. You can only have ONE." Cue: more hysterics, more moaning the word "Pop! Sicle!" and the little chocolate mint being crushed and smashed and melted beyond recognition or attractiveness in a little tiny hand. The next day, I thought I had learned my lesson, so I set the three sweets options on the table so I wouldn't have to stand holding a wiggly Birdie in front of the freezer. I thought SHE had learned her lesson because she chose a popsicle (only after 15 seconds when I started putting them away, of course.) But about 5 bites into the sicle, she came back, held it out to me and said with sticky, wet, red lips, "I want chocolate." I explained that she had chosen a popsicle and eaten most of it, so she could not change her mind. You'll never guess what happened! Oh wait--yes you will. She fell on the floor crying, getting her sticky popsicle all over her shirt, her face, her hair and the floor. She did not recover in time to even enjoy the rest of her popsicle, because I finally had to remove it from the crime scene before causing any more damage. She fell asleep in her crib a heart-broken, sticky mess.


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Scenario #2: It's a lazy Saturday morning and Daddy is going to run to the store. Don't even remember which store, but Carson decides he'll go along. Sydney seems interested, and even gets her shoes on with intent, but at the last minute, she wants to stay home with Mommy. She watches closely as the boys get their coats, but still says she'll stay with me. But when the door from the house to the garage closes, she full-on panics. "I want go with Daddy!" she says urgently. As the car starts, I grab her coat and run out to the garage to catch them and put her in her car seat. I came back inside and hear the van leave and the garage door close. About 90 seconds later, there's a knock on the front door. Daddy is holding a sobbing girl, who is reaching for me like I've left her for hours, saying she wants to stay with Mommy. :( Sweet girl! Of course I grab her and take her to the couch and start to snuggle. You just can't fault a girl for wanting to be with her Mommy, right? Until, out our window, we see the mini-van pull out of the driveway (for the second time) and drive down the street. She leaps out of my arms and bolts straight to the front door, screaming for Daddy. She stayed by that door crying for over 20 minutes. Sigh.


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Poor girl. I really try to keep my patience, because it turns out that counting to 10 makes her panic. Raising my voice in desperation? Also not helpful. I'm determined to stand my ground, limit the choices and follow through with the time limit. She's GOT to figure this out, right? I just don't want her having nightmares of her mother standing over with an angry face, saying "DORA OR NEMO, SYDNEY? DORA OR NEMO?! MAKE A DECISION!" And it may not be my number one parenting strategy, but delaying her therapy sessions as long as possible is a goal of mine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Less Screen

The first two days of spring break have been pretty laid back. Laid back usually means more screen time at home. At our house both kids enjoy watching TV/movies and Carson enjoys playing the Wii. We call it all Screen Time. It's a constant temptation for me to allow plenty of Screen Time. The reason is that "Screen Free" time always equals MORE mess and very frequent calls of "Mom! Come here!" "Mom! Look!" "Mommy! Watch me! Watch me!" "Mom! Come look at this!" So it's virtually impossible to accomplish anything (thus the temptation to let them sit down and watch a movie!).


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So today I decided we're having significantly less screen time. Of course, I'm breaking that rule by doing this blog post (which I've been working on for 30 minutes, b/c of all the "watch me!" interruptions), but I thought you'd enjoy what the kids came up with before 8:30am.


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They called me into the Carson's room and I found the mattress off the bed and "Play That Funky Music, White Boy" on the radio. You can't make this stuff up! (Somehow Carson found a new station on his clock radio.) By the time I grabbed my camera, it was "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog."
video

Having the camera on reminded Carson of a dream he's had for a while. The other night he started dramatically lip syncing to the song I sing for him at bedtime. It made me laugh so hard, I explained to him what lip syncing was and he's been begging me to video it. I let him choose the song and you'll be able to tell I was barely containing my giggling while singing. My favorite part is Sydney's big finale:

video

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Trying something out...

So, no news yet. For reals. But it's all good! We've got a lot of "March" left.

JUST IN CASE we have something to share later this week, Trent and I have been toying with the idea of a password protected site for whenever we happen to get pictures of our little peanut. I've never been exactly sure what the protocol is for that, but I know that I love, love LOVE seeing pics of my friends' Thai children who have yet to be brought home forever. I want you, our family and friends, to experience that excitement with us--but feel a desire for a bit of security, especially at the beginning of this next step in the waiting process.

So to add a level of privacy, I've set up a separate blog address where we can password protect each post. If you want to check it out, I've done a trial post just to see if people can figure it out. If it's way too much work, or people can't get ahold of me to figure out the password, then maybe we'll just end up posting the pics on here--with approval from our agency, of course. Or maybe we'll use the site for other private information. Who knows?

So, here's the link: www.brazenlillybaby.wordpress.com

The password is my maiden name. If I'm friends with you on FB, you should know it. If you would like it, please leave a comment on this post on how I can get in touch with you, or email me at brazenlilly@gmail.com.

Let me know how it works for you! like I said--just an experiment so far.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You wanna talk about WAITING...

As soon as I start to feel bad for myself for this miserable waiting period, I just think about my friend Amy. We started our adoption processes and home studies right about the same time. Check out the roller coaster she and her husband Ken have been on for the last few weeks! I can't imagine. I'm so happy for them and just praying them through these next several days until all the paperwork is signed and Katie is theirs for good. The pics didn't work on their blog, but I've seen her on Facebook and let me tell you: she's gorgeous!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Resistance is Futile

Remember how often I've said I'm "not getting my hopes up" for a referral in March? Mmm-hmm. That ship has sailed. The USS Not Getting Hopes Up has left the dock and is out to sea in the middle of the Thinking of Little Else Ocean. I think it officially sailed when we moved from #6 to #5.

I'm tellin' ya people--it's pretty bad. It's one of the first thoughts in my head when I wake up--"Wonder if it will be this month." My heart skips a beat whenever my phone rings between 8am and 5pm. And since we've been told by the agency that the referrals usually happen "near the end of the month" I have, of course, come up with my own interpretation of that calendar reference and figure that it means anytime after the 15th.

But it's not just the anticipation of The Call. I'm also letting my mind wander ahead to actually meeting our baby in Bangkok, bringing him/her home, dressing them for Easter next year. And THEN? I had the wonderful/horrid realization that if everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING went perfectly and slightly ahead of schedule--we get a referral this month, and the 9-11 month waiting period is more like 9 months exactly--our babe could be home on Christmas morning. Is that the most torturous thought to taunt myself with?!? That is SUCH a long shot. Last June, there were only 2 children matched to adoptive families. The AVERAGE if four a quarter--that is far from guaranteed.

And I think you all know me well enough to know that we will announce our news as soon as possible. BUT, be forewarned that I may be quite coy these next couple of weeks. We'll announce as soon as we are ready. So, while you are welcome to say "Any news yet?" if you have not SEEN news on this blog, then I will say "Nope! Nothing yet!" even if we DID get the call, because that means we are still mulling it over, talking to our pediatrician, telling our immediate family, etc.

Of course, I am extremely aware in my mind (still working on my heart) that we very well could hear nothing until we get an email from Holt the first week of April telling us all the referrals have been made. That will most likely mean we'll be near the top of the list for June. Even though I didn't know it, I've waited my whole life for this little Thai child, so another 3 months won't kill me. I'll be disappointed, but not devastated. We can do this! I can only imagine how torturous the waiting will become once I have a picture to gaze at...

"Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength." Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Praying for Ethiopia today

So, in case I haven't subtly alluded to the fact, there is a whole adoption world that exists online. My realization of it was something akin to discovering Middle Earth by Tolkien, only without the hobbits, elves and orcs. But I promise you--it is equally as detailed, with drama, suspense, twists, tragedies and some happy endings.

In the last week, there has been some global news that is consuming much of the adoption blog talk. I'm FAR from the inner circle of this particular buzz, but the first I saw of it was this article. But it's consistently been on my heart and mind, so now you have to be in on it too. Ha! Here's my outsider's/layman's synopsis--for those of you who are even a little more outside:

Adoptions of children in Ethiopia have increased dramatically in the last few years. When we were looking at agencies and countries, it was clear that programs in Ethiopia were able to match younger babies with a shorter wait. With this increase of the adoptions being processed, there were several documented cases of unethical operations taking place that slipped through the cracks of bureaucracy. If you are unsure of what I mean, a lot of it has to do with how or why children are admitted to orphanages in the first place. Did a birth family member relinquish them, or were they found and considered to be "abandoned" when in fact their family was simply out working in the field for the day...that kind of thing.

In an "effort to clean up a system rife with fraud and corruption" the Ministry of Women's, Children's and Youth Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia made an announcement that they would be cutting back the amount of adoptions they process by 90%. Instead of processing 50 cases a day, they will process 5.

Cue: every heartfelt reaction from one polar side to the other. Some see this as a great idea, as it is clearly in the best interest of the children. Others see this as a political move that will produce no clear change but will punish orphans and adoptive families. I find my opinion swayed gently with each new blog hop.

This information directly affects 2 families very dear to us and at least 3 other families with whom we have become friends during this process. As is expected, our first gut reaction is to panic--they are being told to expect at LEAST a 12 month additional delay if their papers are already being processed and a wait of 4-5 years for dossiers yet to be submitted. No waiting parent wants to hear this. It's heart-wrenching.

But after that selfish, human response, our next reaction is to consider the impact on the thousands upon thousands of legitimate orphans already living in institutions. Is this in their best interest? I don't think anyone is upset that MOWA wants to make strides to protect children and have a more ethical and thorough adoption process. But, in my humble opinion, this seems to be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In my simple mind, I feel that there could be a less-drastic method to promote ethics and best-practice.

So, here's what I'm praying and I invite you to join me if you wish: there is a large-scale meeting taking place, most likely tomorrow (Monday, March 14th) between the US State Dept, US Embassy to Ethiopia, MOWA and several adoption agency representatives. My prayer is for God to grant WISDOM and GUIDANCE in this meeting. I pray that the best interest of the children will ALWAYS be the first concern--even if that means getting news we don't want to hear. I'm praying for all the children--both legitimate "orphans" and any others caught in the crossfire of this crazy mess--that somehow, someway, they will learn of the Love that is real and endless and can heal every hurt. I'm praying they be blessed with a loving family, whether that is their birth family or an adoptive one. I'm praying for all of my friends whose hearts are already in that East African country, that they, too, will have wisdom on how to proceed (for those that still have a choice) and peace with understanding, no matter the outcome.

One of those dear friends, Rory, has already fallen deeply in love with the country of Ethiopia and has a heart for orphans like very few people I've ever met. I want to end with some words of hers from an email she sent to me, because it's a reminder for all of us waiting parents about who's really in charge:

Among a host of other things He's been speaking to me, one was "I am a Father to the fatherless. Not you." Doh. It's hard for me to
relinquish that kind of control when I want to "father" them! They should be HOME! In a family! But God. But God. But God. He is the defender. He is the Father. He is the vindicator. He is more than capable and He is not bound by an earthly government.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Painting with TWO and FIVE

My heart is so heavy right now for the people of Japan. The pictures are so overwhelming, I can't stop the tears when I see houses and cars strewn around like toys in a bathtub--knowing that real people were surely in those houses and cars. I have a tendency to be a bit of a news-freak when something like this happens--watching myself into a blubbering, emotional mess, so I'm taking a step back and closing the msnbc window before I decide to adopt a baby from Tokyo. ;) Praying for God's mercy and healing on the people of Japan, and thanking him for the safety of the few friends I have there.
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On a much, MUCH lighter note, I realized yesterday how different it is to paint with a five year old: ...and a two year old.

There's hope for this messypants some day!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Well said.

I have some linkage for you.

Several months ago I had a great conversation with a friend about "correct" language when talking about adoption. She gently told me that she was afraid to even have a conversation with some adoptive parents who get offended easily by those who are not educated in the proper semantics that we pick up and learn through the process. It made me resolve to give grace in these awkward circumstances when good intentions are clear (and reserve the right to be a little snarky when strangers are just plain nosey) so I can always have a dialogue with my loved ones. But also, I still want to pass on some specific terminology--ESPECIALLY to my friends and family who will be in my child's life on a regular basis. There are just a few terms that I want to avoid to make our child feel loved and a part of our family indistinguishable from his/her siblings.

THIS article, I think, is written quite frankly, but not with malice. It focuses on the term "your own" when referring to biological children--as is very common. I know I've said it. But "your own" and "real son" are two phrases that I'm working to delete from my vocab. Our child born in Thailand (let's say it's a boy) may not be our BIOLOGICAL son, but he will be our REAL son. He will be OUR OWN. And I don't want him to ever think otherwise. I'm sure we'll all slip up a few times, but I hope we can encourage each other and kindly correct out of our shared love of this new little one.

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Another article that I have been wanting to link for months is just too awesome to just post a URL. I'm going to copy it (with just a few lapses) for you here. I want to make clear that this is an excerpt from Missy at http://www.itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com/. It is SO GOOD--for any Christian parents, not just adoptive ones. Please read it. (And if you have time, go to her "best of" list and read "The Marriage Bed." You'll cry laughing.)


Dear kids,

Recently we were told by people whom we love and respect why they oppose
our plans to adopt. One of the reasons given was that we would not be able
to pay for your college education. It's true.

You all have college funds--college funds which recently took a terrible
hit--but "they" say that by the time you're 18, college will cost anywhere
between $200,000 to half a million dollars each. You might as well know
now, we won't be covering that. I'm telling you now, babies.

The people said that the day would come when you would look at us with
resentment because you had to apply for school loans while many of your friends
got a free ride from their parents. Maybe you will. Maybe you'll
resent us. I really hope not. But maybe I should tell y'all now why
your dad and I have decided to do what we are doing.

I know you're going to think I am going off topic (I do that a lot) but
several years ago I saw a story on a TV show about how the latest trend was for parents to give their daughters boob jobs for high school graduation (I don't know what they gave their sons). When interviewing one of the moms, she said "I just
want my daughter to be happy." And as I tossed a throw pillow at the
television, this really huge thought occurred to me: I don't want my children to
be happy.

My goal as your mom is not your happiness, sugars. In fact, I spend
at least half my day making you unhappy. If I had a nickle for every tear
that falls in this home on a daily basis, we wouldn't need to worry about
college tuition at all.

Happiness is fleeting, sweet babies. That means it doesn't
last. It's a quick feeling that comes from a funny movie or a heart shaped
lollipop or a really good birthday present. It's great. I love to be
happy. But happiness is a reaction that is based on our
surroundings. And our surroundings are so very rarely under our
control. Even when--especially when--we think they are. So no, I
absolutely don't want you to spend your life chasing something that has so little to do
with your own abilities. You'll just be constantly frustrated.

There are two things I desire for you, precious loves. There are two
things that I spend most of my time as a mother trying to cultivate in
you. Happiness ain't one of them. (This means, sorry, no boob jobs
for you.)

The first is, I want you to be content. Being content is so much
different from being happy. Being content is not based on your
surroundings. Being content comes from within. Contentment is a
spirit of gratitude. It's the choice you make to either be thankful for
the things you do have, or to whine about the things you don't have.

Being content and grateful leads to consistent joy.

As you know, because I've told you lots of times, Paul talked about being
content. Paul said that he had "learned the secret of being content in any
and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in
want." And Paul was in some rotten situations, kiddos. Really
rotten.
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Which leads me to my second desire for ya'll.

I don't want you to be happy, I want you to be holy. That means, I
want you to seek that God-power to make you content. I want you to want
the Kingdom of God more than your own kingdom. And that's hard, babies--it
is so hard. And that usually means passing up a lot of what the world
considers happiness. But it means that you will achieve blessings directly
from God that most of the world never dreams of because they are too occupied
with achieving happiness.
...
Darlings, we love you so much. You will never grasp how much we love
you until you have children of your own, and then you'll get it and then you'll
apologize for the ways you treats us. ;) But our goal is not to please
you. Our goal is to please our Heavenly Father. And nowhere in the Bible does the Lord command that we save our money to send our kids to college.

But the Lord does command us to care for the orphan around fifty
times. He does tell us to care for the poor around 300 times. He
does tell us that when we care for the neediest, we are caring for Jesus
Himself. And in chapter six of Matthew, He tells us to seek HIS kingdom
first, and let Him worry about the rest--like college tuition. Because
it's all His anyway.

They said that one day y'all would resent us for using "your" college money
to go and get your sister out of an orphanage in Ethiopia and bring her home to
you.

But I know my babies. Even at your tender age, I know your hearts,
and I have already seen you weep for the least of these. I know the
prayers I offer up to God that He and not the world would shape the desires of
your hearts. I am trusting Him to answer those prayers.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Perception, Presentation and Perfection

There's been a lot of buzz lately on the mommy blogs and adoption blogs about WHAT we post about. I'm too lazy to link to all of them but here's one from Wendy and here's one from Kristen. Both of them had great thought points that I took to heart--as I think anyone who participates in this whole "sharing your life in a public forum" should listen and participate in the conversation. The core of these recent posts was the privacy of our children, and how each of us chooses to protect that in varying degrees. The spectrum is WIDE. I still have friends who cringe at the thought that I have pictures of my children on the WORLD WIDE WEB for any crazy perv to see. And I read other blogs who not only have pictures of their kids, tell private/embarrassing stories about them, but they include last names and hometowns. I guess my goal is to fall in the middle. But to be honest, would a blog that has nothing personal on it be that much fun to read?
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But one of my blog/internet struggles is slightly different: HOW do I present my life and my self? I've had conversations recently with people about the purpose of our blogs and the version of ourselves that we are presenting to the world. For instance, Blogger A said she worried about what Blogger B's children will think when they grow up and read all these stories about how stressful they made her life, how tired she was, and how many naughty things they did. The presentation is that life kinda stinks right now. BUT, Blogger C told me that she doesn't even read Blogger D anymore, because it's all roses and tea parties and gush-fests. "Does she EVER have a bad day? I just can't relate to someone who LOVES her job as a mommy every minute of every day." The presentation is that raising little children is nothing short of bliss. Now, I'm not referring to the blogs whose clear purpose is just to post cute pictures for friends and family. I'm talking more about talky blogs who share stories, opinions and have kind of dipped a little deeper into the Blog World. (And oh yes--it's a whole new world.)
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So, it makes me think about my blog. Despite what you may think from all the things I share about my kids, I DO actually make conscious decisions to withhold some information from you. There have been many hilarious discussions about private parts that will not be posted. I have awesome videos and pictures of the kids in all stages of nakedness that I choose to leave off. But I also strive to use this little web log to share honestly about this season in my life--the season of raising small kids as a full-time job. I like to connect to others in the same season and share our ups and downs. I verbal-vomited a lot of my thoughts on this last July in response to a magazine article. And I will say it again: being a parent is COMPLICATED. It's not all playdates and snuggles and adorable outfits. It's timeouts and poop on your arm and smashed cheerios everywhere and sheer exhaustion.
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But what I'm trying to remind myself is this: my priority is not to vent, not to provide a funny story--it is to honor my children while recording this time of life. I give you all permission to gently remind me of this if you read a story that might hurt my kids later in life. (This does not include stories that will simply embarrass them. That is fair game!) I would LOVE to read stories from my own mother from when I was a kid--what funny things did I say and do? What did she think about it all? At the same time, my goal is to give an honest glimpse into my life, not sugarcoat it. Do I love it? Yes! Does it drive me crazy sometimes? Heck, yes! Would I trade it for anything? Not a chance.
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The other day I posted some pictures on facebook and a newer friend of mine said "You always seem to have it all together!"
I seriously was panicked at this comment. I could not handle that someone thought of me like that, b/c that would make me the biggest hypocrite ever. Of COURSE I look like I have it all together in a professional photo, for which I had worked tirelessly to prepare for and bribed my kids with candy to get them to behave and smile. I immediately informed her of several of my short-comings and how I SO do NOT have it all together. I love these pictures (these are the ones I posted) because they are great, we look good and everyone needs to have happy, shiny moments caught on film:
But the day-to-day reality is more like sweats and a ponytail. The house is a mess and the kid stole my camera again. I'm tired and could use a little break. So, as we all consider our web presentation, the perception we desire and the purpose of it all, I raise my coffee mug to the goal of BALANCE on the blog and in so many other areas of my life.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Whatcha been up to?

STORY:
Carson brought this toy (below) to me the other day and said he found it in his room, but that it belongs at Mimi's house. (I'm sure she really wants it back.) He was genuinely confused and concerned. "How did it get here?" he asked. "I dunno," I answered absent-mindedly. He continued, "I mean, it couldn't've just WALKED here." I thought he was being sarcastic, until he said with furrowed brow and total seriousness: "He doesn't have any legs." *
There has been a lot of imaginative Star Wars being played at our house. A. Lot.
Notice Jedi Carson's precise hand gestures.
Padowan Sydney watching Master Carson's use of his saber.
Best Star Wars Face Winner--male division.
Oh, did I mention we are composing a never-before-heard Star Wars musical? It's a work in progress, but there's a very peppy number they are singing here called "Jar-Jar Binx Is So Annoying."
"Force Push"
And Best Star Wars Face Winner--female division.
*
Completely unrelated, we've been trying to eat more carrots.
See? These carrots right here.
And then there's this:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Fundraiser Update

So, please don't be mad, but we've decided not to post details about exactly how much money was donated to our adoption during the last couple months. Discretion?! From Brazenlilly? I know. It's something new I'm trying out. :) I want the focus to be on the God's HUGE faithfulness and the HUGE generosity of YOU people, not the specific numbers.

I do want to tell you that we raised SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS. Can you believe that? And I will also tell you that we are fairly certain that between these donations, our own savings (and coming tax return!), and a portion of the previously awarded grant, we will be able to make the next payment (due when we receive our referral) without taking out a loan yet. This is HUGE!

I will also say that the generosity of our friends and family HUMBLES ME TO MY CORE. I'm teary just thinking about it. People were honest that it was unusual and a little surprising to be asked. But so many gave. Part of the reason I don't want to focus on actual amounts is that it wasn't the AMOUNT of money given by different families that was so powerful in our lives, but just the act of giving or showing support in other ways. Also, now that we have some other good friends on this adoption journey, I just don't want to lend ourselves to comparisons, because we feel we are completely in this together.

Also? The good news is that Lifesong will continue to take tax-deductible gifts on our behalf! March 1st was just a goal date. Any donations made in our name (Tompkins #1664) can still be used to pay agency fees or to reimburse us for any adoption related expenses.
Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about how much this whole process would cost. It was hard to face the numbers and just TRUST. In that post, I wrote:
"'All I have needed, Thy hand will provide. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.' I'm singing it in advance, knowing He will provide."
*
More than I could possibly have asked or imagined.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Made me Smile

Several of you probably remember the wonderful, affirming discovery we made last June at our garage sale--that perhaps the only other family in our entire metro area who have adopted from Thailand happen to live right behind us. It still makes me smile. I love thinking about how God orchestrated our decision to buy this house--before we knew we would adopt, and long before we met the F family. They have 2 biological sons and 2 daughters adopted from Thailand. We've become friends and had a great dinner at their home where we ate Thai food and watched the videos of the days they met their daughters in Bangkok. So, so special!

Well, recently, Mrs. F and I realized we might be able to help each other out a bit with childcare. So a couple times we've met their two older kids (son, 6 and daughter, 10) at the bus stop and they came to hang out at our house for an hour or two. At one point, I was just sitting on the couch coloring with M, their daughter who just turned 10, while her bro was playing in the other room. We talked about the manicure she got for her birthday (alternating purple and blue with glitter) and her new baby brother. I refrained from quizzing her about her thoughts on her adoption, but I couldn't help but feel encouraged by her. She is a beautiful, happy, kind, funny, well-adjusted kid. She's got a bit of bossy and bit of protectiveness like all older sisters do. She's just normal! Her mom has told me that she doesn't mind telling people that she's adopted or talking about it, so maybe I'll bring it up at some point, but for now, just sitting with Miss M, I felt a peace that our son or daughter can/will have a great childhood that is not defined by their adoption or inter racial family. It's an important part of her story, but it's not the WHOLE story.

Can't wait to introduce M to our Peanut. I think she'll make a great babysitter!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mind wanderings of a Mommy (more movie reviews)

Sometimes I just have to stop and laugh at the thoughts that go through my mind, now that I am a Mommy. Not to mention the WORDS that come out of my mouth! For instance, I literally said this in frustration yesterday: "At four o'clock, I will cut the cheese, so stop asking me!" Of course, I lost my intensity in a fit of private giggles, which was lost on the children who are not familiar with that euphemism for passing gas.

Also? I participated (OK, probably initiated) a totally serious conversation with some other moms about which you would rather clean up from a car seat: vomit or feces? Most of us had experience with both so we could provide an educated opinion. FYI--feces for me. (SEE! Right there. That sentence is classic Mommy Talk.)

The other day we were on an hour long drive to visit our besties up "north." I let the kids bring the little DVD player and they were watching Monsters Inc. So, being as I'm trying to be a law-abiding citizen and not use my cell in the car, I was listening to the movie and started thinking about how great all the Pixar movies are. Then I wondered which one was my favorite. Then I wondered which one was my least favorite. Then I decided to mentally rank them. Then I decided to blog about it.

Since nobody asked, here are my own personal rankings of the 11 released Pixar movies. The top 4 are solid and then it gets a little muddy in the middle. It was a difficult process, greatly influenced by my own children's affection for certain flicks, and also probably weighted by number of times viewed in our home. But really, it's an honor to be on the list, so there are no losers.

#11 Bug's Life. Seriously, no offense. Great little pic. Creative idea to come from the bug's POV. Great voices by Dave Foley and Julia Louis-Dreyfus--and especially loved Richard Kind. But I think the writers were still figuring out their special angle on kid's movies and it's just not my favorite.

#10 Wall-E. From an adult's viewing, this was pretty entertaining. My kids have never sat still long enough to watch the whole thing, b/c they get bored, so that's a strike. Plus, it felt a little preachy. But if you do not love Wall-E and EVE by the end of the movie, you have a heart of stone.

#9 The Incredibles. This is a fun movie, and I love Edna the designer of superhero clothing. She stole the movie! But a movie that discusses an attempted suicide in the first 10 minutes and has pretty overt implications of an extramarital affair (suspected, not actual) isn't my fave fodder for my kids.

#8 Toy Story 3. I know! Most people loved it. Critics called it the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 1. But....eh. I think what really got to us, as viewers, was the theme of growing up. Seeing big boy Andy ignoring his toys was heart-wrenching, and [SPOILER ALERT!] the scene of Woody watching him drive away to college at the end was physically painful! I loved the scene of him passing on his toys to a deserving and imaginative new young owner. But the actual plot really bummed me out. The harshly malicious bullies at the daycare and the seemingly endless escape from toy death was just too much of a downer for me. I wish they had incorporated the new, kind toys from Bonnie's house to help with the rescue to lighten the mood a little bit.

#7 Ratatouille. Actually, I think Carson likes this one more than I do. It's a very clever screenplay, and the gimmick with Remy controlling Linguini's motion by pulling his hair is always amusing. I think I like all the French themes and music and accents. It's funny to think about rats cooking. I don't have a lot more to say about it.

#6 UP. This one is still pretty new to us, and I've only seen it about 3 times. It's kind of strange, to be honest. But when I'm crying real tears in the first 10 minutes--with hardly any dialogue spoken--then I know Pixar has done a good job. That opening series is to deepen the character development for the grown-ups, and the rest of the movie with the random exotic birds, silly boy scouts and talking dogs is for the kids. The last scene at the ice cream shop is almost as poignant as the first. Good stuff. We might have to buy this one.

#5 Toy Story 2. This was such a great sequel. Same eccentric, unique characters and introduction of some great new ones (Jessie and Bullseye.) In contrast to #3, I thought the plot created conflict and some suspense without being too dark. I think my favorite scenes are when Woody's friends are trying to get to him from across town. It's just laugh after laugh. Crossing the street under orange cones and causing a major traffic accident? Hilarious! Getting up the elevator with Zurg following? Classic! "Buzz. I'm your father." Tour Guide Barbie gives a ride to the toys through the store? Perfect. "I'm a married spud. I'm a married spud. I'm a married spud." I can watch this one over and over.

#4 CARS. LOVE this one! First, it's a great first full-length movie for little ones, b/c there is no scary bad guy. The music is awesome. The change of heart and humbling of the protagonist is so unsubtle that even children can detect the moral of the story. The different cars/people in the town of Radiator Springs are entertaining and diverse. I'm not at all surprised that Pixar is doing a sequel to this, and it looks like Mater has a larger role, which is totally deserved. This one is oft-viewed in our home.

#3 Finding Nemo. Seriously? Classic. This movie is so gorgeously animated--have you seen the behind the scenes vids about how they studied fish and underwater lighting to get it just right? No? Just me then. Again, the characters make this ensemble piece work. The hijinks in the dentist's aquarium (Oooo-ha-ha!) take what could potentially be the stuff of nightmares--child kidnapped from his widowed father!--and turn it into a sweet story of loyalty, friendship, family and reconciliation. Our whole family loves this movie.

#2 Monsters Inc. Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski has the best one-liners ever. When the bad guy calls him a one eyed "cretin" at the climactic fight scene: "First of all, it's 'creetin.' If you're going to threaten me, do it properly." There are hilarious little jokes sprinkled throughout this movie. How do I know? Because I LISTEN to it in the car on lots of drives. The clever concept that monsters are kind and actually scared of KIDS is fun, but I admit it doesn't necessarily keep a young child from being unnerved by the monsters on screen. We skipped the first scene (where a monster is working to scare a pretend child) for a good 2 years before Carson wanted to watch it. But the tender relationship between Sully and Boo is the heart of the movie. The rest is just icing on the cake. "She's out of our HAAAAAAIIRRRRR!"

#1 Toy Story. The first is still the best. It came out over 15 years ago and has seemingly not aged. It was groundbreaking at the time--I remember seeing it with college friends! It was like these producers at Pixar realized that children's movies don't have to be boring! That jokes for adults don't have to be lewd. The premise of toys coming to life and having such amazing and colorful personalities was nothing short of genius. The animation was unlike anything we'd ever seen, but it wasn't just the quality of the computer generated dinosaur, cowboy, astronaut--it was the funny, real relationships they conveyed. It still, after approximately 124 viewings, makes me laugh. "Tuesday night's plastic awareness corrosion awareness meeting was, I think, a great success. We'd like to thank Mr. Spell for putting that on for us." From Rex the friendly--and somewhat self-conscious Tyrannosaurus: "What if Andy gets a new dinosaur? A mean one? I just don't think I can handle that kind of rejection!"

So, that's my list. How about you--especially all of you who have seen these as many times as I have. Do you agree? Disagree?