Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy Birthday


 The view from my window on my birthday.  Lovely!

We just wrapped up birthday season at our house.  Five birthdays within a month. 

There were some huge highlights to my big day.

The weather was lovely for winter.  I love Oregon's temperate winter weather since I hate being cold.  It was sunny with black skies.  Those stereotypes about the grey skies, even when it's sunny are true.  And sorry-but I love that.

First thing when I woke up and came downstairs, Sam said he needed to tell me something.  I expected birthday greetings, or something like that.  Instead he whispered, "I have an idea for our last hiding spot for our elf.  Tonight I think you should hide him in the basket of ornaments on the black table."  Now this was particularly funny because the ONLY reason we have "elf on the shelf" is because of Sam.  Noah hasn't believed in Santa or any sort of elf for years.  And while Andrew loved looking for the elf every morning, he was barely two and certainly doesn't "get it."  As far as I knew, Sam was our only "believer."  Apparently we have no believers and I have no idea how/when that happened.  And furthermore, I am so curious about why he whispered.  Did he think Noah believes?

Another joy was asking the kids pick out some costumes for our nativity later that with cousins.  Noah came into my room to tell me something and was wearing an old Captain Jack Sparrow costume he loved when he was 4 (seven years ago) -- reincarnated as a shepherd.  He may be a tween in all it's glory, but he still is creative and a little boy, I love that about him. 

Every year for Mother's Day and my birthday I tell the kids I want "peace and quiet."  They aren't super good at giving that particular gift because... HAVE YOU MET MY KIDS?!  But then I ran across this quote on Brene Brown's facebook page and I thought it was beautiful.  I know I can control the level of peace in my life. And so I enjoyed peace from within that day.  And it was super nice.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Brothers

My two older boys have gotten along really well for the most part.  I know it's unusual and I know quarreling children is a source of stress and exhaustion for other parents.  So rather than bragging about it, I willingly admit I'm very fortunate.  It's a blessing that I can take NO credit for.  They are four years a part, their personalities are vastly different, and they share quite a few common interests, so they enjoy playing together.  Plus Noah is (used to be) very patient and Sam is very mature.  So they are a brotherly match made in heaven.

However, Noah has started getting annoyed with Sam in the last few months.  It's really sad because they used to have so much fun together.  Yesterday I got tired of it.  They'll be spending a lot of time together over the Christmas break, which helps them get along better.  And I wanted to make sure they did have a chance to re-connect right away.  So I decided to start the Christmas break off by having Noah make a list of all the things he loves about Sam.  He ended up with a list of 63 things (he had to add a few extra for non-compliance at first).  He had to read this list to Sam while holding both of Sam's hands.  He was not thrilled at first, but he did it and they've had a great day together, as expected.

His list is so funny.  He describes Sam with perfect detail.  But this list tells just as much about Noah as it does Sam. 

63 Things I Love About Sam:
  1. He's funny
  2. He's fun (occasionally)
  3. He's adopted like me
  4. He's great at Legos
  5. He goes birding (when he's not annoying and when he actually likes the birds we see)
  6. He's nice
  7. He's cute (that's what you say)
  8. He's good at having good boundaries with me, other people, and our family
  9. He is easy to talk to 
  10. He is responsible
  11. He isn't mean
  12. He isn't a person who would make fun of you for your mistakes
  13. He really doesn't care about what you do to make a fool of yourself and he doesn't care when you accidentally make a mistake
  14. He is a good reader
  15. He is a good writer
  16. He is good at math
  17. He is a good learner
  18. He is funny
  19. He is kind
  20. He is patient
  21. He likes what I like
  22. His birth family likes me
  23. He does lots of service
  24. He's helpful
  25. He's a good eater
  26. He's good at Legos
  27. He doesn't make fun of me
  28. He likes you for what you are
  29. He doesn't care how you look
  30. He's awesome
  31. He's a artist
  32. He's kind and nice
  33. He likes animals
  34. He's good at using binoculars
  35. He's smart
  36. He's creative
  37. He's good at drawing
  38. He's good at painting
  39. He's a safe person
  40. He's a good brother
  41. He's friendly
  42. He's a person with integrity
  43. He's a good babysitter (that sucks for me)
  44. He's cool
  45. He's responsible
  46. He's good with tools
  47. He's easy to talk with
  48. He would make a good police
  49. He cares about me
  50. He wants me to accomplish my goals
  51. He's helpful
  52. He's swag
  53. He's loving
  54. He's good at sharing
  55. He's fun to hang out with
  56. He's more responsible than me
  57. He has a lot of friends
  58. He's easy to make friends with
  59. He's good at skateboarding
  60. He's good at biking
  61. He's good at coming up with lies
  62. He's a good listener
  63. He's good at everything

I'm BACK!

I haven't blogged in over a year, despite having more "material" and things to talk about than ever before.  I want to make more time to document the adventures of parenting.  My kids are so much fun and so hilarious and such crazy kids that I feel it a huge shame I don't write all this stuff down.  Plus I have ideas and thoughts that I'd like to write out somewhere.  And bottom line, I enjoy writing!  It clears out the clutter in my head and gives me a sense of accomplishment to have done something with my day and life. 

I don't care if anyone reads or comments.  In fact, the only reason I am going to make this public or write on a blog rather than just writing a journal, is to hold myself accountable to actually do it.  Plus I hope it encourages other people (family:  I'm looking at you!) to write too. 

And lastly, I'm not keeping my kids' pseudonyms.  The biggest reason I had them before is because we were actively looking for potential birthparents for years and there were/are lots of scammers and creepy people online preying on families hoping to adopt.  I felt like my kids and my parenting were vulnerable enough.  I wasn't afraid for our safety, just careful to keep some of our antics private.  Now that we have three birth families that we know and trust, I don't have the same need to hide as many details of our family online.

The good news is, I've composed the final installment of Andrew/Rudy's birth story.  Yay!  Just in time to celebrate him turning two last week.  I will publish it as soon as I add a few pictures. 

The picture above relates to nothing, but I'm using G's laptop to type and he only has pics from his GoPro on this computer.  And this was a cool one.   That's Sam and his eyelashes really are that long. 

Merry Christmas!  And Happy Birthday to Noah, Sam, G, Andrew, and Me. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rudy's Birth--Part 4

Breakfast with my family.  We sent this pic to R to tell her we were celebrating her.  

That night I couldn't sleep. This time because I was so excited and nervous.  The next morning I was up super early before anyone else (first time that's ever happened).  My brother suggested we go to breakfast as a family to celebrate.  While at breakfast, I talked to R's caseworker several times working out details of how the next 24 hours would go.  R wanted to do placement that night, only 24 hours after baby's birth.  We were uncomfortable with that plan because the caseworker was traveling home from a business trip that afternoon, so placement would be late and rushed.  Plus I thought R should take her time making her decision and holding her baby.  R wanted us to come to the hospital to see her baby that day, so we made plans to quickly get a Christmas tree, then drop our kids off at my parent's house so we could spend some time at the hospital.

We still hadn't done a single thing to get ready for the baby to come home, which for a planner like me, was weighing really, really heavy.  But because everything was still up in the air that week prior, we couldn't possibly put things like birthday parties and getting a Christmas tree on hold.  

Putting the tree ahead of the baby that day was a bad idea, however.  We got to to the tree lot and it was cold and pouring down rain.  The saw G brought wasn't strong enough to cut the tree down.  Eventually he borrowed a hack saw and after a lot of frustration, finally got it cut down and roped to the top of the car.  The clock was ticking.  We were supposed to be at the hospital in two hours and we still needed to do the following:  drive home and set up the tree, get dressed and be presentable, drop our kids off at my parents' house, drive one hour to the hospital.  On our way home R texted me that the hospital staff reserved us a room at the hospital so we could stay the night with the baby.  I was terribly uncomfortable taking her precious time with him.  Plus there wasn't enough minutes in the day to prepare for an overnight stay, which would include packing everything we would need for placement (gifts for birthmom, camera, etc) and everything we would need for baby (carseat, clothes, blankets, formula, bottles, diapers, etc), plus our overnight stuff, plus overnight clothes for our other two kids.  Earlier that day we had discovered our bottles -- an entire large tub full -- were missing.  The clothes were unwashed.  And our carseat was still in the box it arrived in.  We had no diapers.  We had nothing ready.

Within the next hour there was a lot of yelling and crying and absolute mayhem and panic.  We were going to arrive late to meet the baby we had prayed for for years!  The chaos seemed so inconsistent with how things should be.  And on top of everything else, the tree we just spent an hour cutting down was way too big for our tree stand.  We tried and tried to get it to work, each minute ticking by as we wrestled with it.  We considered putting it in the yard debris recycling bin and giving up on the tree that Christmas season.  Sometimes you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them.  The tree was not worth losing our baby or marriage over...  It all sounds so dramatic, and trust me, it was.  Finally we decided to put it in a bucket and lean it against the wall in our living room. We figured it could stay like that for a few days until we got everything else in our lives situated.  But in the meantime it fell over multiple times and lost most of it's needles all over our carpet.  We are still enjoying, a year later, looking at the sap stains on the wall from where it rested that weekend. 

The blasted tree.  The carnage actually was much, much worse than it looks.  

Eventually we were in the car and headed for grandma's house.  On route we decided we wouldn't stay the night.  It seemed like a selfish decision from every angle.  Plus logistics played a role in that decision.  

We don't have a lot of feelings or memories from that first visit.  We were nervous as we arrived.  And we thought he was so beautiful when we saw him.  He was fat (9 lbs, 1 oz) and looked like a 6-week old baby.  He had a full head of dark hair with a slight red tint.  His skin was perfect and his head was round like a much older baby.  He had enormous hands and feet and the most pronounced elf ears.  He was our first full-term baby, which made a big difference in his size and how developed he looked.

Each of our experiences meeting our baby's for the first time are all very different.  God gave me what I needed for each individual situation.  I just needed to cope in that moment.  I didn't have any amazing spiritual experiences.  I didn't feel bonded in that instant.  I felt "fine."  I felt like everything was as it should be and he was ours, but otherwise, I was keeping a safe emotional distance.
 G holding his boy for the first time. 

I felt regret that week that when he gets older and we tell him his story, we won't be telling a story of excitement and bliss leading up to his birth.  But as I've thought about it, we were clueless about R's pregnancy, and once we learned of him, we were busy and scared.  We were worried and terrified of not getting him more than anything.

I thought I wanted any baby, but as soon as I got to know him, I realized I wanted him.  So while this baby didn't get a nursery and his parents weren't full of joy and anticipation on the day of his birth, he will grow up knowing we wanted him so badly it physically hurt.  And he will grow up knowing he healed that pain.  It wasn't the anticipation of his arrival that was exciting.  But it was the reality of what he brought to our family that was exciting. 

Rudy's birthfather didn't go to the hospital as feared and his birthmom was still very resolved and unemotional about everything.  This was both a relief and a serious worry.  She was very generous and was willing to let us hold him as much as we wanted.  She was still open to us staying the night with him.  She said he was our baby.  All the details were coming together as we hoped, but it was unusual that she was so detached from the situation.  All birthmoms are different, but we hoped she was OK and was giving herself permission to feel the joys of having a baby, and the deepest lows a person can experience.  She was very stoic during that first visit.

She had amazing friends from church there in the hospital with her.  We were so impressed by their love and friendship.  They all had children at home and here it was a week before Christmas, but they were there with her around the clock.  The staff at the hospital was warm and supportive of her and us.  It was a little awkward feeling like we were intruding on such sacred space, but the staff seemed to go with the flow, which was so nice.

We loved watching R nurture her baby.  She was so soft with him.  Rudy was her second baby, so nursing and changing diapers came naturally to her.  She was very at ease caring for him.

We didn't spend a lot of time there that afternoon.  Nobody really had much to say. And we wanted to give her as much time as possible to be his mommy.

Does he look like a baby that is less than 24-hours old?  His hair was amazing and still is.  I could tell already he would be a sweetheart.  

We spent the drive back texting with our caseworker and hers, working out details for placement the next day.  We planned to arrive at the hospital around 10:00.  There was a lot to do in the meantime.  The caseworkers needed to prepare the mountains of paperwork to be signed by her and us.  And in order to do that, they needed his name.  They had been asking us for a few days, as had R.  We had been casually considering names and had a short list, but nothing felt right.  Mostly because I just couldn't bring myself to choose a name for a hypothetical baby.  Now that we had seen him and held him and now that we were 14 hours away from placement, it was time to make a commitment.

The weight of that decision seemed overwhelming.  The task was impossible.   We decided to discuss it over dinner.  As we walked into the restaurant, we saw two of my good friends from highschool, and conveniently, they were also fellow adoptive parents.  It was another huge comfort to have their support, understanding, and listening ear.

We talked and talked and talked about possible names.  R had chosen his middle name a few hours before he was born.  It was a unique Hawaiian name meaning "a cool breeze blowing over a mountain."  She loved it because she wanted him to be a strong person who gave people peace during their difficult times.  It was also a fitting name, considering he was born on a day of tragedy and was such a source of peace for her and for our family.

We considered Edward as a first name, a family name on both sides.  We both loved it and that was R's top choice for him.  (That name would have suited him perfectly, now that we know him.  Darn!)  But it just didn't feel right.  We had a few other options and they didn't seem right either.  G liked one name in particular, but although I liked it, it didn't have any significance to me.  It was just a random nice name.  I needed to feel a connection, enough to trump the family name we were considering. We agonized over this.  Our phones were blowing up with friends and family and caseworkers begging for more details... and a name.

I thought hard about why I cared about his name.  I had cared so deeply for Sambo's name that I traded naming rights for lasik eye surgery.  I got to pick his name, G got surgery to fix his eyes.  Seemed like a fair trade and I am still so happy with that negotiation six years later.  Anyway, as I soul-searched while eating chips and salsa, I realized I didn't care what Rudy's name was.  I just wanted HIM.  For years I hadn't cared which baby I got.  I was even willing to do foster care and share parenting someone else's baby, as long as I got to have a baby.  I sat there in the restaurant and realized I didn't need a powerful connection right away with him when I first saw him.  I knew I'd love him no matter who he was or what his name was.  It's an interesting thing.  When so much is at stake, a baby or not a baby, names just don't matter.  So I let G choose.

I did, however, want to make sure the name he chose was associated with good strong men.  Interestingly enough, the two people we could think of right then with that name were amazingly strong men that we admired from church.  One of the men had lost an infant daughter to a heart defect only three months prior.  We had watched him and his wife handle the experience and their grief with so much faith and grace.  It seemed like a honor to give a son a name that reminded us of somebody so strong and courageous.  The decision was made.  The name was formal for a baby, so G texted our friend and asked him what nicknames he had a kid.  He replied right away with some good ones, including Roo-Roo.  As soon as I heard the name Roo-Roo, my heart was full.  I knew that Roo-Roo was my baby.  Quickly, we thought of the nickname Rudy and then Rooster.  And all three names have stuck.  Now a year later, I don't even think Rudy knows what his real name is. 

We left the restaurant, returned to my parent's house to tuck our kids into bed there.  We then made an 11:00pm stop at Target to buy a bouncy seat (I sleep train from day one and needed one for that purpose), some diapers, formula, and a bottle since we weren't sure where our stash was.  We came home and while G spent an hour (literally) vacuuming up needles that had fallen all over the carpet, I started washing baby clothes.  We eventually found the bottles, thank goodness, hidden in a strange spot in a garage cupboard.  G put together the carseat and we straightened the house.  We organized our gifts for R, charged our camera, chose some outfits for him to come home in -- all hand-me-downs from his brothers.  But we had some darling Christmas outfit options at least!  Eventually we went to bed at dawn.  The stress of the week was over.  We were exhausted but energized yet also very serene.  We had chosen a name.  Our bottles were washed.  We had clothes and all the necessities.  We were beyond ready and it was happening.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rudy's Birth Story -- Part 3

Considering our baby is turning ONE in two days, I think it's time to wrap up his birth story.  It is important for me to write all this out so he will know about the circumstances of his birth.  But it was a painful part of our lives and so it's been really hard for me to face the trauma of that month.  Everyone has times in their life that are really hard.  And for whatever reason, several "hard" situations came to a head between October and January of last year.  We have had a peaceful year as a result, but we've remained tender for many months.  Still, Rudy's life and birth were a miracle and clearly show God's love for each one of us.  So I want to tell more of the story...

See Part 1 and Part 2

I could hardly function when I woke up the next morning -- the day Rudy would be born.  Even without the adoption and new baby on the way, I still would have been overwhelmed.  It was an intense week even without all that going on.

As I was getting Buddy ready for school I knew R was already being induced.  So I sent her a "Good luck!  I hope your day is good!" text.

I asked G for a blessing that morning.  My mother -- who obviously listens to the spirit -- called and said she was coming over to help me clean my house to get ready for Sambo's birthday celebration with his birth family.  It was going to be a very full house with lots of people later that night.  This was the first time some of them had been to our house.  I always feel like I need to have a clean house and have things "all together" when they come, although I really need to get over that.  If there was a time I should have practiced letting things go, that would have been the time, but my anxiety was driving my cleaning spree.  The house would be spotless by that evening. 

I turned on the news right after taking Buddy to school.  I had never once done that so early in the morning.  I was looking for a distraction from the pit in my stomach and thought watching a little news would help.  A massive shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut was all over the news.  Many children were dead.  I turned off the TV instantly.  My stomach was already in knots, and hearing that news, it wound so tightly I seriously could hardly breath.  This news was so upsetting to me I didn't even mention it to my mom when she got here.  I wanted to pretend like it wasn't true.  I was trying so hard to be excited about this precious baby being born into the world.  It seemed like he was coming into such unfortunate circumstances.  It seemed so unfair.  He was coming to a world that was unsafe for children.  He was going to be placed for adoption into a family that was too busy and fearful to prepare for his arrival, get excited about his birth, or even choose a name for him.

I kept thinking:  We all need peace.  We all need some hope.  If I had peace and hope, I could do this.  

I also had been thinking for the past three days that someone really needed to invent an epidural for adoption.  Unfortunately, it doesn't exist!  The only thing that relieves the pressure is prayer.  So I prayed a lot.

Sambo with his birthmom.  

I texted R all throughout the day.  She was happy and calm all day.  That evening we had Sambo's party.  It was wonderful to be with his birth family that night for a lot of reasons.  It was comforting to be with people that understand the trauma and heartbreak and also indescribable joy of adoption.  And it was good for them to experience the angst and worry about what was happening to R in the hospital.  We grew closer that night as a result of that shared experience.    

That evening around 8:30 I got the text that our sweet baby had been born.  R was open with details and asked us if we wanted him immunized.  She said she was feeling great and he was perfectly healthy. 
This was the picture we got saying he was here. 

As soon as I heard he was here, I had a flood of peace and hope.  I needed hope and here it was.  I needed peace and it was here too.  

To put it simply, he was born a day after G's supposed "deadline."  He was born on a day when the world needed a sign that God holds children in the palm of his hand.  If he had been born a week earlier, we wouldn't have had him.  His birthfather would be his father.  If he had been born much later, we wouldn't have gotten him either.  He came on the perfect day. 

P.S.  You won't have to wait 7 months this time.  More of the story to come within a day or so. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beautiful Children

It's not my fault my children are the best looking in kids in the entire world.
One perk to adopting is I can brag about my kids' looks all I want.  I can't help but have a soft heart toward their shenanigans when looking at their sweet faces.  We thought we were due for an average-looking, if not homely, child after the first two.  Nope.  He is so cute we can hardly stand it. 


Monday, September 30, 2013

Lookalikes

Is it just me, or does my youngest boy look EXACTLY like his older brother?

 Rudy 9 months

 Buddy 11 months

 Rudy 9 months

Buddy 11 months

You might not be able to tell in these pictures, but they have the exact same color of red suuuuper thick crazy hair.  They both have round faces and bright blue eyes.  Rudy's are a lot brighter than they appear here.  They both have translucent skin and smile with huge open-mouth smiles.  They are both happy, friendly, and extremely busy.  There are very few differences between the two!  ...Except at 9 months Buddy was 4 pounds more than Rudy is (20 pounds). And they don't share any common genes.  Amazing, if you asked me.