Saturday, September 29, 2012

Birthday photo dump

I knew last year that for Asher's second birthday I wanted to have a big-ish party.  Of course, as it is for any small child's birthday party, it's kind of more for the adults, the pictures and the memories.  The 2 year old himself would not have noticed if we skipped the celebration all together.  But I would have noticed!  And he might have noticed in 10 years when he saw the shindigs we've had for his siblings!
It's a little bittersweet for me to post these today, because the last several days have probably been the hardest I've had with Asher since our first week home.  The behavior, the crying, the power struggles are at an all-time high. I'm analyzing (and probably over-analyzing) everything from the party to new experiences to new people to over-scheduling to try to figure things out, but I'll probably never pinpoint exactly what is causing what I consider to be regression in his attachment.  All the people at the party were family members he is comfortable with, so at least for the party's sake, I think he had a good time, was well-rested and didn't seem too overstimulated.  For now I'm just chalking it up to the fact that attachment progress for us seems to be three steps forward and two steps back.  And also, I'm having fun looking at the 189 photos I took at the party.  :)  I hope he enjoys looking back at them someday too, and smiling at how excited we all were to celebrate his life! 
I didn't go all out with, for instance, a pirate ship cake or butterfly cupcakes this year.  But I did have fun doing a little research into the best way to ice a sugar cookie.  I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm a freak, b/c it was really fun for me!  I want to try again with a different shape soon.

 I didn't do EVERYTHING I saw on Pinterest for airplane parties, but I did get some fun ideas that I brazenly copied.

These are one of my all-time favorite treats: pretzel rods dipped in melted candy and topped with sprinkles.  Salty and sweet.  HELLO!

I also am not a huge cake fan.  But I AM a huge "sugary pumpkin muffin with cream cheese filling and struedel topping" fan.


 We lucked out with great weather and everyone was able to play and hang outside.  And yes, of course Asher is wearing his airplane shirt to his airplane party.  DUH!


I was wracking my brain to think if he'd seen anyone blow out a candle.  He was home for Sydney's birthday, but only for about a week--I don't think he remembered, b/c he seemed genuinely puzzled on what to do with the fire.
With enough coaching he figured it out.

No coaching needed on the eating part.

Asher is at that age of innocence where he was thrilled with the first present he opened and would have been more than happy to play with it for the rest of the night.  Instead, he was dismayed when we "took it away" so he could open more!  Pretty soon he got the hang of it...with a little help from big bro, of course.

This is a classic Asher pose.  He NEVER STOPS MOVING.  When he is walking around, he often just starts jumping in place, falling on the ground, or furiously shrugging his shoulders.  This is him in mid-shrug.
 I love this one too, b/c it is him in his element: MOVING!

My nephew Jack is so handsome!  Couldn't resist this one of him throwing his airplane.

Happy birthday, buddy!  Here's to many more parties to come!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


September 23, 2012

Dearest Asher Saran,

A year ago today, I was a blubbering mess.  I knew you were celebrating your first birthday a world away.  Then I worried that maybe you were NOT celebrating!  But I knew whatever you were doing, whatever your foster family was doing with you, I was jealous and sad and heart-achy and very weepy.  And I consoled myself with the thought that your second birthday you’d be here in our home, in my arms, and I’d throw you a huge party.  It’s sometimes hard to believe it’s actually come true!


We met you a little over 3 months ago, and it’s amazing to see how you have changed in those few weeks.  When we met you, you were a sad and anxious boy, crying for most of our time together.  You were very stingy with your smiles and were not interested in having any physical contact or comfort from us at all.  You were so full of grief that you were not interested in any of our distractions, except food and many, many bottles.  In those first few weeks, you acted out on your grief and confusion, and tried to plow through any boundaries we set for you, taking your frustration and anger out on the only people around: your new family.


Now, admittedly, you are still testing those boundaries daily, but you have a mischievous and familiar defiance in your eye now, not a blank stare of hurt and anger.  It’s very rare that we see those crocodile tears come out these days, and usually only if you get physically hurt, or object to your frequent time-outs.  You run to us, hug us, bring your owies and scrapes to be kissed, and squeeze our necks tight before going to bed and snuggle when you wake up.   YOU ARE SO CURIOUS!  Wherever you are, whatever you see, you want to inspect up close, touch it, squeeze it, stretch it, throw it, bite it.  You are still developing your English language, so all day long you just yell “MaMAAA!  MaMAAA! MaMAAA!” and point to something. This happens non-stop in the car, and unless I respond and acknowledge “Yes!  I see the tractor!  Yes, that’s a cow!  Yes! A bus!” then you will continue to YELL my name at the top of your lungs!   I get frustrated by this ongoing game, but then remind myself how long and hard I fought to BE your MAMAAAA and it helps me have more patience with you.  J


The world is so exciting and fascinating to you…perhaps the extravagance of the American life adds a whole new level of intrigue and eye-candy.  I remember the second day you were home, we took you to Lowe’s.  We passed an aisle of chandeliers, and you stared, but when we saw a wimpy, days-old mylar balloon advertising a sale, you shrieked in delight!  You pointed and fluttered your arms and squealed.  It was the first of many times when your innocence and your inquisitive spirit have delighted us.


You are also showing us that you have a great imagination.  Two of your favorite activities are “cooking” in the toy kitchen and pushing a doll (or duck or kitty or even a block) in the toy stroller.  We have a small oven mitt that you wear around the house for hours, saying “SHOT” which is how you say “HOT” and carrying a little toy pot around.  You found one of the dolly bottles a while back, and half the time you have it in your mouth, and the other half you are feeding it to any number of dolls or stuffed animals.  (As for your real bottles, we are down to one a day, so maybe you miss it!)


You often have a hard time being away from mommy.  You usually want to be literally touching my leg, which can mean some frustrating afternoons when I’m trying to move around the kitchen to make dinner and I keep tripping on you or stepping on you.  So one evening I convinced you to go work in the little kitchen.  You found a polka-dotted rubber ducky and he (she?) was your kitchen companion.  First, the poor thing got put in a pot and cooked in the microwave.  But then he was amazingly resurrected and you had him drink from a bowl and shared an ice-cream cone with him.  My favorite activity, though, was when you put him in your *ahem* special corner and said “MOUT” which means “Time Out.”  J  I laughed hard at your imagination and your interest in having the power to put someone ELSE in time out.  So we set the timer together and gave the ducky a hug afterwards.  It was pretty priceless. 


I’d be lying if I said the last three months have been easy, sweet guy.  They’ve actually been pretty challenging.  Your whole world was changed in a matter of hours, and I can’t imagine how painful and confusing that was for you.  As you joined our family, the rest of us struggled to get used to our new normal and try to figure out how best to love you, when sometimes you seemed to be pushing us away with your behavior.  But over and over again, as we’ve fallen more and more in love with you, we are affirmed in our hearts that IT IS WORTH IT. That YOU are worth it.  We know without a shadow of a doubt that God intended for you to be in our family, that you are a child worth fighting for, and our family was not complete until you joined us.  We can see your humor, your intelligence and your good natured spirit becoming more and more apparent each day.  I love that now I KNOW you and can observe and learn these things about your personality, not just dream about them while staring at your picture.  At the dinner table when we ask who would like to pray to Jesus, you shoot your hands up in the air, just like your big brother and sister.  We all realize you aren't fully comprehending the question, but it brings us joy just the same.  Sometimes the kids "help" you pray, and you mimc them.  It sounds like "JESUS...[mumble, mumble]...AMEN!"


I’m so overjoyed and blessed to be your mommy every day, but especially today. As we celebrate the day of your birth, I’m beyond grateful to have you in my life.  I’m beyond grateful for your sweet young first mommy, who is no doubt thinking of you and missing you today.  I’m beyond grateful for your faithful foster family, who cared for you (and spoiled you—in a good way) so very well before you were sleeping under our roof.  And I’m beyond grateful to our heavenly Father, who whispered to our hearts before you were even born, telling us that our son was waiting for us in Thailand.


And my dear Asher, you were SO WORTH THE WAIT.


Love you always,



Saturday, September 22, 2012


September 22, 2012

Hey sweetness,

Holy cow, I can’t believe you turn SEVEN today!  I’m such a typical mom and have already made you sit through the retelling of you birth day, which is really not complete without hearing about the days leading up to it, including all kinds of dramatic highlights of your labor and delivery.  Which, I may add again, were not easy.  But even as you roll your eyes at my sentimental story, none of us can help but smile as I talk about the first time I heard you cry, the first words your dad said ( “He looks like my brother!”) and the first time I held you in my arms.  You were my firstborn, my introduction to motherhood, and you have shaped me as a person more than almost any other human on this planet.

This last year has been quite a RIDE between the two of us.  Something about our personalities (maybe we’re too much alike?!?) makes us connect and laugh and share special jokes and stories one minute, and infuriate each other the next.   You can push my buttons and bring out heated emotions in me that no one else on earth can touch.  It’s a special gift.  ;)  And I know I can push you over the edge too.  And often.  But you also can melt my heart and bring out the mama bear in me, the part of me that will do anything for you.  If you truly need me, I will drop anything and bend over backwards to make things right for you. 


I’ve felt this recently as you’ve started first grade.  It’s been a rough transition for you, on the heels of another rough—but wonderful—transition this summer: bringing Asher home and into our family.  You have really stepped up to the plate and have shown that you are an amazing big brother!  You love Asher, protect him, help him, teach him.  But I can see that as mama’s time and attention has been stretched thin, that has been hard for you.  Sometimes this manifests itself in you lashing out and talking about how your siblings get all the attention.  And sometimes you just quietly show that you need more attention. You are more intent on spending our one-on-one time together at night before bedtime, and have been pretty upset about being gone from home so long now that your school days are longer. At first you were riding the bus home, but you had tears in your eyes and told me that it just takes too long after school until you see me again.  How could I say no to that?!  So now I load up the younger kids and the wagon and drag them through the sea of parents so we can be waiting at the school doors when you get out.  The smile on your face as you spot us after searching the crowd is worth all the effort.  I know the longer days are hard on you, but for us?  I think absence makes the heart grow fonder.  You and I miss each other a lot, and our afternoons are sweeter than they have been all summer.


One exciting thing that has happened in the last year is that you learned to read.  Your love of books kind of ebbs and flows, but I feel a major victory when you choose to read on your own and tell me about an interesting or exciting book you read.  You had a great kindergarten year, and soaked up all kinds of information about words, science, math, music, writing…it was a great foundation for you.  I also think your math skills have improved because you are VERY interested in your allowance: how much you have, how much you need, how much a certain coveted item costs.  I got so sick of the ice cream trucks coming by our house day and night this summer, but I tell you what: you quickly were able to add up the cost of certain treats and figure out if you had enough money to buy them.  More than once you even bought for your brother and sister, which left me glowing with pride.   Other than you know, your obsession with sugary treats.


But I think my favorite thing about you is your humor.  Mister, you are hilarious.  And witty.  And sarcastic.  And silly.  You often hear a funny line on a tv show or movie, then store it up in your head, just to pull it out at the perfect moment to leave us all in stitches. Your comic timing and delivery are impeccable!  (I like to think that is an inherited trait.)  You are willing to laugh at yourself too, which it one of the keys to being funny AND likeable, not using your humor to mock others.   Your teacher from last year told me that you are already a natural leader.  She said just by jumping up and excitedly saying “Let’s play tag!” all the other kids would jump up and want to play tag too.  I can see this gift already blossoming in you, and it excites and scares me.  I pray you will use your charismatic personality to help others, to reach out to those who are marginalized, to include those who are alone, to set an example of kindness.


A couple years ago, I fell upon a Scripture verse that I had read many times before, but suddenly I KNEW beyond a doubt that this was going to be my life’s prayer for you.  I call it your life verse (of course you may choose your own someday, but this will always be mine for you.)  Whenever I see it or hear it, my heart quickens and I get tears in my eyes, because it makes me think of you and the amazing person you are, and the man I want you to become. 


Philippians 1:9-11

And this is my prayer: that your love may 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.”


My sweet son, whatever character God has given you—the sweet and the fiery—it can all be used for the glory and praise of God.  I’m so blessed to have you in my life, as we both continue to learn to discern what is best.  May we continue to refine each other day after day!  I love you so very much, and always will.  No matter what.


Love always,