Friday, May 30, 2008

Holy Moly!!

This vacation has turned out to be rather exciting due to an unexpected turn of events. We had a phenomenal time at Disneyland...we opened the park and we closed it with only Joshie taking a short nap in a stroller late in the day. We hit both California Adventure as well as most of the rides at Disneyland, I got almost no pictures because we were on the run and more concerned with enjoying ourselves than documenting the trip. We had several highlights to the day, as we all sat "ooohing" and "aaaahhhing" over the Soarin' Over California ride...what an experience! We loved meeting our friend face to face who helped us gain entry to Disneyland, we all enjoyed the absolutely perfect weather and the short lines.

But the thing that cracked us up the most was at the end of the evening, when Kenny finally found the perfect souvenir to take home. A friend of his from school had gone to Disneyland over Spring Break and found a set of Mickey Mouse ears that had lights in the ears, and we finally found them at a store on our way out of the park. I wandered down the street to look while the boys were getting Kenny's name sewn on the ears. As I was walking back toward them, trying to locate them in the crowd, I see this shadowy figure in the darkness waving his head back and forth...with only lighted ears to see!! What a riot as Dominick told Kenny to move his head like a radar dish so Mommy could find them...and all the boys, big and small, thought this was hilarious and were almost rolling on the floor with laughter. So we took our human radar dish and our day was over.

We have admittedly had some challenges with Kenny while on the trip, nothing major but things that could not be ignored or put aside. I felt it creeping up the last week or two prior to leaving for California, as it really is cyclical in nature, but there was nothing I could do to curb it. It always revolves around control for him, and he has had this strong urge lately to again "be the daddy" and run the show. We have about 2 weeks of this usually, then about 4-5 weeks when he is more open to being parented easily, to relinquishing control. I have joked about it, but it is still true, that when Kenny is in "the mode" he will even try to tell me exactly how to comb his hair, where I am to put things in the house, when I should do laundry, etc. Although he does so in a kind way, usually, it is still his way of dominating the other person, of parenting himself...of not trusting us to do the job well enough to satisfy him. Today he ended up sitting on the couch for a couple of hours and then off to bed at 7:30 for an incident where he decided to tell Josh what to do in a Daddy-like way...and after several warnings over the past few days it was time to take action. But despite these kinds of things, the trip has been a lot of fun for Kenny as well as everyone else...frustrating at moments, but not bad enough to really turn everything sour, thankfully. The good news is that if it runs true to form, about the time we get home he should be back in "Mellow Mode" and we will have an easier time of it.

As if this trip was not filled with enough joy, this morning we received an unexpected email.

Holy Moly, it is happening...yes, after spending a day in the "Land Where Dreams Come True" we had our own dream come true. It seems we have a busier summer than we anticipated ahead of us, and I am about to get writers cramp from paperwork that needs to be completed. If no other road blocks are placed in our path, we are finally able to move forward with our adoption plans!!!

Honestly, as I write that, I am having a hard time absorbing it, not sure if I can let go and trust it after the false starts and stops we have experienced along the way. I have decided to put it aside for the remainder of our trip, other than sharing the good news, and will face all that lies ahead once we return. We have much to think about, much to do, much to prepare our hearts for. We also have much praise to offer the One who moves mountains, as He surely moved mountains this time.

So, a couple more days of pretending our life is simple, and then we return to tackle a new adventure. I think my days of multi-tasking are only beginning!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Great Unknowns

We had the distinct pleasure of meeting a couple preparing to adopt internationally yesterday. We made arrangements before coming to California and were quite excited to be able to meet in person after having spoke two or three times on the phone. It is a gift to be able to share our experiences with others, hopefully helping them meet their very real and understandable fears head on, and develop bonds that hopefully will last long into the future. We have been blessed more than once when a relationship that once started as an information sharing moment blossomed into a long term friendship.

I also was quickly taken back to our own first experience when we adopted Matthew, how many questions we many remained unanswered until that moment when we first held Matthew in our arms. I still shake my head in amazement sometimes that any of us ever take this huge leap of faith and commit to a child and a process that is totally unknown to us.

The fears we have had each time we have adopted are very real, they are not exaggerated, they are not unnecessary. We are forced to make decisions that biological parents are never faced with, and those decisions can at moments be paralyzing. Each time we adopted simply selecting a country to adopt from was tantamount to making a decision that would alter the course of our lives...for we had to somehow trust that in the borders of that country resided the child that was meant for us. Then there are agency decisions, ethnicity and race decisions, region decisions, gender decisions, age decisions...and on and on. How I hate that part of the adoption process!

The trust we need to place in God...or our "higher power"...or our gut instinct is enormous. But if we let that lead us in our decision making, we slowly begin to see how it all falls into place in the proper timing. Letting go of control and surrendering that control to some unseen force is the truest sense of trust we can exhibit...and sure enough, our children will draw us to them...they will eventually become known to us.

I know this all sounds like mamby pamby new age speak, but for us at least, it has proven so true. And it is not something to be easily discarded, this notion that our children are waiting for us. As I see our 3 boys play with one another, I am filled with gratitude that for once in my life, I decided not to "drive the train" and let God do it for us. It really does go against my nature, as my mom and husband would both attest to :-)

Before we left for California this week, I received a message from our girls, as well as photos and drawings, and I am somehow unable to let this go right now. There was some disappointment as things were explained to them and things were not moving as fast as they hoped, there was assurance that they too feel as strongly that they belong to us as we feel we belong to them.

Mostly though, there is longing. Longing to be together, longing that we were not having experiences that they are left out of, deep longing to see all 5 of our children together romping and playing.

And like our new friends we were with yesterday, longing to just be done with all the hard parts. I am not at all envious of our visiting couple or anyone in the beginning phases of adopting, and am happy that at least for us...many of the unknowns are indeed already known to us this time around. But that too creates its own sense of disquiet as well.

The boys loved the flights coming out, and we spent yesterday doing nothing but laying around, watching TV, doing a little shopping, and catching up with our moms. Dominick has not seen his mom in over 2 1/2 years, so it is great for him to be along this time unlike last year. The boys are old enough to remember Grandmas in between visits now, and it was a warm and loving arrival when we walked in the door to see them both. Kenny has changed so much from last year that they were amazed, he is really a very different little boy.

So after a wonderful evening spent yesterday visiting, we are going to have a laid back and relaxing day just hanging out, helping Grandma with some small projects around her house, and getting to bed early for our Disney Adventure tomorrow. We have mapped out the park, making a list of "must see" attractions in an effort to squeeze as much as possible into the day. We have yet to go swimming as it is actually a little cold here...colder than it is in Colorado!

And we will forget these unknowns that are left that still have yet to be confronted, for there is always another day.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Waiting and waiting and waiting!!

We have some very excited boys today, just waiting to get on the plane to see Grandma's and Disneyland! I must have been asked 50 times this week already "When are we going to get there?' and we haven't even boarded a plane yet!

What a roller coaster week it has been for many, many reasons. Our dear friends departed yesterday after staying at our home for their last night in town. I can't even talk about how painful it was, and yet how beautiful to have people you hold so dear to your heart. Matthew didn't show much emotion when they left, but the remainder of the day he was very solemn, and spent over an hour cuddled in my lap after they left, rocking in the recliner silently as we both contemplated a life without them. Their son left Matt his huge body pillow to remember him by, to remind him of all the sleepovers they had...and guess what just HAD to be packed in our bags for California.

We finished their new bedroom before we left...thank goodness! What a big project as we rearranged the layout of our house, painted bedrooms as we moved them into our old bedroom, moved ourselves into a different bedroom, and we now have an empty room waiting should we be blessed one day to bring our girls home. Walking by it every day serves as a reminder of them, and I don't know whether to smile or to furrow my brow in dismay that it the color still blue and not pink or purple! Hahahaha! Here are a couple of photos of the boys rooms...and if anyone has to couble (or triple!) up in a bedroom for their kids, these beds were terrific...from Ikea and only $149 each!!! Best bargain as we had looked for over a year for something inexpensive and most of these loft beds are not cheap. We got folding plastic tables and chairs from Walmart for under their beds to use as desks, and the bookshelves were $16 from Target on sale. eventually I will get bulletin boards for each of them for under their beds, and all the time I thought I wanted a framed picture or something for their wall and they begged me to put up a Kazakh wall hanging we purchased in last time were in Kazakhstan. So, simple as it is, it is done...after about 40 coats of red which didn't to cover over the purple wall with flowers painted on it! Hahaha! I have to laugh as honestly...I am not kidding here...all three boys originally wanted me to KEEP the purple wall and flowers as they liked them so much. I figured that might be the case now, but not so much when they are teenagers :-)

Thursday was the last day of school for Kenny and Matthew, and they had a "Field Day" with lots of outdoor events and then an award ceremony. They both begged meto go to school with them that day, goofily getting down on their knees and giving me puppy dog faces, until I relented despite having tons of things to do before our trip. Josh was invited by Kenny's teacher to come along as well, so we had a Family Day there with even Dominick showing up for lunch and hanging out. Joshie, of course, had to attend with his beloved blankie wrapped around him...and Matthew and Kenny both get a huge kick out of how all the girls in their class have to give Joshie hugs and say "He's so cute!" as they stand by and ignore the older boys. Matthew laughed and told me Thursday "Mom, Joshie is going to have more girlfriends than either Kenny or I!".

All the kids had a blast and enjoyed all the games, and Joshie sure felt like a Big Guy hanging out with all the older kids.

What a moment of reflection it was...and yes with mom swiping away a tear or two...when Kenny received the Achievement Award during the awards ceremony. He received it for all the hard work he has put into school this year, and that certainly is true. In 9 months he has gone from a child who could not even recite the Russian alphabet to a little boy who is already reading in basic readers. His speech has improved tremendously, and his math is at almost a second grade level. For a child who had never been to school before, had not even the equivalent of pre-school under his belt, we are so proud and pleased with all his teachers have helped him to learn this year. His first year was phenomenal and he had the blessing of people all around him who cared about him, spent extra time with him, and guided him in so many ways. You go, Kenny! There is NOTHING stopping you!!

We had another moment to celebrate as well when Matthew received a certificate for being on the honor role, the first time he was eligible and he made it! We couldn't be prouder of you, Matthew. Your diligence at always doing your homework, and particularly this year listening to advice your teacher had for improvement really paid off.

In addition to our own kiddos, we had the great joy of seeing so many of the Cub Scouts in our Pack being honored for their achievements, some who have struggled and worked really hard received recognition for all they have done. We loved seeing all of them up there, bringing Pride to our Pack!

So now, we are half an hour from leaving for the airport and Dominick is bugging me to hurry up and quit blogging...the car still needs to be loaded! I am so glad he indulges me, but even I have to admit this is cutting it short so I had better get moving. We'll post as we can during our trip, and hope to relax after a year filled with joy, sorrow, frustration, dedication, and celebration...we will take a breather, reflect on how far we have come as a family, and have a wonderful time together.

It was one year ago tomorrow that we met Kenny for the very first time, one year ago that we held him close, looked into one anothers eyes, and said "Welcome to our family". What an incredible blessing he has been, what laughter he has added, how much we have all grown because of his presence.

Thanks to all for following along with us, thanks to all for your encouragement during the hard times.

We ARE family.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Honesty and Judgment

This past few days have been emotionally difficult. You know, when you open up your heart, when you elect to share so much of yourself and your life with an unknown public as we all do with our blogs, it can have its rewards. Those rewards are that you get to meet some wonderful new people who can enrich your life through their offer of friendship, you can offer encouragement and support to others by letting them know that they are not alone in their experiences, we can all learn from one another and our individual journeys.

But the truth is that you also leave yourself wide open for the judgment of others who think they know you, because they have read about a slice of your life. Assumptions are made, comments are freely cast out that someone would never have the courage to say face to face, and partially read blogs are taken in part rather than the sum total of their months or years long commentary which causes misinterpretations and missed facts. Honesty can be turned and used against you. It is a risk we all take when our blogs are available for all the world to read.

Sometimes I think that those who read the blog forget that it is essentially a running one-sided conversation with my sons about adoption and how it has affected their lives. Do other issues sometimes enter into the dialogue? Sure they do! But often our readers forget that they really are seeing only a tiny portion of our lives, the portion that mainly has to do with adoption and the boys. You do not know anything about my marriage or other aspects of my personal life because that was not the reason the blog was created, it is not something I chose to share.

We have a choice to remain public or to take our blogs private, where presumably only our closest family and friends will be our readers...and will most likely never go on the attack in the way that anonymous commenters feel so justified in doing.

While privatizing our blogs may keep us safe and comfortable, freed from the judgment of others and from the sting of misdirected anger and misunderstood circumstances, it also hurts some people, for they can not learn from us. I remember being in the beginning stages of each of our adoptions, quite literally spending thousands of hours scouring the internet looking for morsels of information that might help calm my fears and explain what was a completely unknown world to me...this arena of international adoption. I learned so much from the emails and web pages of others! No doubt exists in my mind that we never would have stepped forward with adopting if we hadn't had the "real life cases" of others to examine under a microscope to determine if we indeed really could do this, if it was safe, if we were suited to the various trials and tribulations, not to mention the joys and miracles, that would be part of our future.

I have tinkered with the idea at times of being far more vague or fact based with my writing, I have often considered being less revealing as that is far safer. No one could judge us then, no one would likely be inclined to write anonymous attacks with the specific intent of causing pain...for it would be so bland that it wouldn't inspire that kind of reaction.

But if I did go that direction, no one would learn what this life of ours is really like one would be able to take what we have gone through and use it in whatever way is best, either by doing the exact opposite or perhaps coming away with a nugget that might help their family and their children.

Most importantly though, I would not be honest with my sons. They would not have a "real" picture of their life story that I attempt to capture here. It would be sugar coated, it would be false, and frankly, it would be nothing like the mom they know in "real life".

This blog entry tonight is prompted by a couple of comments I received, one posted and one not at the anonymous commenters request, which I honored. As I have gone over these comments in my mind, as I had a long conversation today with someone I trust completely, I was guided to see that honesty comes at a cost. It is not always easy to share our more intimate realities, as there will ALWAYS be someone standing by on the sidelines ready to throw a rotten tomato at you.

I could elect to not share the blessings of our lives, the ways in which others are being used by God to work in our lives, but then that would be taking something away from the most important factor of all of this...Him. When He blesses us, we should not hide it under a rock, we should proclaim it boldly and joyfully!!! And our family is most certainly blessed. Just as those who bless us feel as if they receive much in return, so do we when the shoe is on the other foot. It really is better to give than receive, but if we don't receive graciously and gratefully we take something away from the experience for the giver. Those of us whose lives follow a certain path, recognize that all things come from Him anyway.

But my greater concern has always been that we all be a blessing to others in the ways we can. Are we always successful? No, I am certain we are we honestly try? Absolutely. Will everyone understand that? No, probably not.

As I evaluated all of this on a very deep level this past few days, and with someone else's help, I asked myself "What would those who know us in "real life" say about this? What would those closest to us think?" for anything else that is generated in the cyber world is not based on reality, it is based on perception. I came away from that recognizing that our two way street is wide open, that others see that the give and take is what we are all about, and it is ongoing and an active part of our life. It just isn't something I choose to share much of in the contents of this blog, for that is NOT for public consumption and is unnecessary. It is between our family and God. If we have somehow blessed someone else, and that is something we strive for daily, then that is for Him to know, not our readers. Much as I love you all, your praise is not what we seek. Nor do we desire your condemnation.

Because of that fact though, it is very easy for others to judge, saying that there is a lot of "taking" going on and no "giving". Today I came to the conclusion that it is just fine for others to feel that way, based upon their knowledge of us in this blog. For the One who is the only One who needs to know our hearts already does, and there is no need to justify with Him, no need to explain.

I have always shared as much as I feel is possible with all of you, I have my name attached to every single thing I have ever written, be it here or in online group discussions. I have never thrown out anonymous comments or attacks, either here or on anyone else's blog. You may not agree with me, you may in fact vehemently disagree with me and find me a nutcase. That is ok! What I ask for though, is the same respect I show all of you. Don't fling out hurtful anonymous comments. If you are not proud enough to attach your name to it, then that should be a clue to you that it shouldn't be posted in the first place. I have always been honest with everyone in this blog and will continue to do so for as long as I decide to keep it public. In the future though, I will not allow negative comments to be posted if they are anonymous. If you are not willing to attach your name and your reputation to it, then it is nothing more than mere graffiti on the blog and it will be blotted out, the same as graffiti on an inner city wall.

To those who have been avid followers of the blog, to those who understand that God is working in really amazing ways in our life right now and we have no control over it other than to surrender to it in spite of how difficult, uncomfortable and scary that is, to those who don't need an explanation, to those who know us in "real life" and shower us with your love and allow us to show you our love, to those who have managed to glean something from this story about a family that is helpful, thank you all.

To those who don't understand....well...I guess all I can say is, I wish you could.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Moments of Weakness, Moments of Failure

I posted a few days ago about Joshua and some of the issues we are encountering that we feel are RAD based and are sneaking up on us. The nightmares have lessened a bit, not visiting us every night but still 3 or 4 times a week and quite terror-filled. Suddenly we are also having problems with wetting himself during daytime hours, having happened 3 times over the past couple of weeks.

Tonight we were at school for Kenny and Matthew's music concert, and I asked Josh to go sit with Dominick while I helped corral kids until it was their turn to sing. He walked out of the room and I didn't give it another thought until I joined Dominick in the gym and he said Joshie had been crying the whole time. He had told Dominick he only wanted to be with me and was very upset that I had sent him away to get a seat. As Joshua saw me, he started crying again and I took him by the hand and led him out of the gym to a more quite corner where we could talk. The only problem was, he couldn't talk about what was bothering him so badly, he could only manage to stand there with tears streaming down his cheeks, chest heaving, lip quivering.

As I picked him up and held him close he started really sobbing, clinging on to me with a desperation I haven't felt from him in over a year. He finally said "I didn't want to leave you, I wanted to be with you not Daddy.".

Sitting there with him folded into my lap, I felt my heart slowly sinking and I almost wanted to cry myself. This beautiful, tender child has been entrusted to me to care for, and there are moments when quite honestly I feel I do a totally lousy job of meeting his needs. Sometimes I just don't anticipate what is best at any given moment, I don't "see" where something is headed that will cause him turmoil...and I guess the fact is I can not protect him from this deeper hurt that springs back to life from time to time.

Sometimes I think it was actually easier when Josh and I were doing battle, circling one another as he angrily rejected me over and over again. Although I hated it and it cut to the bone, I better understood it and knew what to expect. This stage though is harder, it is less obvious, it can be more intense at moments. I now have an extremely loving and lovable child, one whose sensitivity is startling at moments. But it is that sensitivity that touches my soul so deeply and makes it harder to turn my back when the rough times come. When we were in the throes of the worst of the RAD I had an "out", I could say I needed a break...and I certainly did...and I could walk away without guilt knowing it was best if I admitted that need. Now though, I can not turn my back on his pain, I have to face it without a break for that would be devastating for him now that he can connect so firmly. It means I have to walk with him ever closer at times like these, and that can be so hard.

It is hard to watch your 5 year old dissolve into a 5 layer jello desert, each layer colored and flavored differently, and each one transparent enough to see through quite clearly. The layers are not named Strawberry, Orange, Lime, etc. No, instead these layers are named Abandonment, Rejection, Unnamed Fear, Insecurity, Hollow Feeling Inside. A passer by would assume it was a typical 5 year old meltdown...a perceptive passer by manages to see a little more to it, sees that this is sorrow not temper tantrum.

Our sons go to an extraordinary public school, one that ranks low in test scores but high in understanding and character building. It is a school filled with migrant families, ESL kids, and poverty. It also has a principal who is one of those perceptive passers by, and he sat down next to me tonight in the midst of all the hustle and bustle that only rooms full of 2nd and 3rd graders can create, and seeing Joshie's despair looked me in the eye and gently asked "And how is Mom doing?". Nothing more, nothing less but darned if it didn't feel like God putting his arm around me for just a moment as I was sitting there clueless as to how to help my son feel safe again.

Tonight I sit here waiting for his screams to once again shake everyone out of their sleep. Kenny put a light near his bed and told Josh he would try and wake him up out of his nightmare if he had another one tonight. Tonight I sit here wondering what else I can do, what I am doing wrong, and why my son has to feel this way. Tonight I sit here feeling like a failure, and yet trying to convince myself I am not one, reminding myself of how very, very far we have come.

But when your child is clinging to you in the middle of the night, when he is laying next to you hiccuping from the sobs that linger, when your child wanders through the house during the day with rising panic in his voice because he can't physically see you, it is sometimes harder to see the road you have already traveled and you fear the road that still lies ahead.

Perhaps I am feeling more fearful than usual because I just finished reading one of the latest Jodi Picoult novels, "Nineteen Minutes" about a school shooting incident and the events leading up to it as well as the aftermath. Now, don't get me wrong, I do NOT...let me repeat NOT see Joshie as ever being violent as some RAD kids are. No, I am 100% certain we are beyond that risk. But the novel was filled with such accurate portrayals of teenage thought processes and experiences, of bullying and betrayal, of those who fit in and those who never will no matter what lengths they go to...and for some reason it caused me to think about Josh and what he will be like at that age. He is my most sensitive child, my one most at risk for being crushed by the thoughtlessness of others.

And I can't protect him from it.

I am also reminded that I couldn't protect him from the lifelong hurt caused by his birth mom abandoning him. I get such incredulous and disbelieving looks from others whenever the subject comes up about our struggles during Josh's earlier years. The questioning look as people ask "And he was only 11 months old?". Yes, he was only 11 months old, and the damage was profound and enormous. And tonight I am feeling it will always and forever be a part of him, and that is pretty accurate I guess. I think the hard part, for me, is not knowing if there is anything I can do to keep it from forever leading him in his life. If he will continue to be haunted by emotions that are triggered by unexpected circumstances and events, emotions that he probably will never be able to label well.

Tonight I watched as all three of my sons ran from the mailbox up the road to our front porch. It was that magical few moments just before the sun sets, when the light is crisp and golden, when the greens of the lawns and leaves surrounding you are more brilliant. They were laughing, running with great abandon...Joshie in his cowboy boots struggling to keep up with his two older, stronger brothers...Kenny with his gangly arms and legs all out of kilter weaving this way and that...and Matthew straight backed and steady on course. Three completely different little men, three completely different personalities. One bond, the bond of orphanhood. The difference in the level to which it affects each one is startling.

I am also struck by another simple fact, they have one forever mother and father who must help them through the maze of their life experience and help them proceed forth with strength and courage. On nights like this, that seems an impossible task. And yet, it is the task we are charged with, a task we take on willingly and lovingly.

How I love these children, these boys of mine. What I wouldn't give to be able to make it all better with a snap of a finger. I'd love for Kenny to look in the mirror and see the handsome little guy I see, I'd love for Joshie to never again feel alone, I'd love for Matthew to have the answers to all the questions he has asked over the years...the answers to questions like "Do you think my birth mom wanted to keep me?" or "I wonder if my birth grandparents ever think about me?".

And yet I would be the first to admit that it is these deep pools in their souls that have helped create this wonderful trio. To me, they are the most incredible boys I have ever encountered, both individually and collectively. The moments of failure come and go, they are real and they can not be avoided. I guess, like my sons, I must pick myself up, dust myself off and continue to trudge along doing the best I can.

Sometimes though, that just doesn't seem to be enough.

Disney Madness!!!

Disney Madness has arrived!! Now that the end of school is near, and our trip to California is fast approaching, the boys are starting to get excited about our vacation. But today they received a special package that REALLY got them into the spirit...and made me feel very humbled.

Not only are we going to Disneyland out of the kindness of a blog reader's heart helping us go at no cost, but another blog reader and long time adoption email friend offered to pay for one night at a hotel there (it is quite a drive from our mom's houses) and sent along some gifts for the boys to take on the trip. Matthew, Kenny and Josh each giggled with glee at seeing the package with their name on it, and raced from the car into the house to open it up as fast as they could. Their faces lit up when they saw presents with their names on it and they opened them to find new baseball hats, sunglasses, baseballs, autograph books and Disney Dollars as well as real dollars for spending money for their once-in-a-lifetime adventure. As Matthew said "Wow Mommy, we have everything we could possibly need!!". They then all proceeded to put on hats and suglasses and pretend they were "cool dudes"...and I have to tell you they don't pull off the "gansta" look all that well (thankfully!). I don't know, perhaps it was the Lightning McQueen and Power Rangers hats that kept them from being able to seriously look like vulgar rap lyrics were going to stream from their lips at any moment :-)

I really want to publicly offer our deep, heartfult gratitude to both of these families who have reached out to help our kids do something I doubt we could ever afford to do...and to do it in such high style!! As the kids and I talked in the car on the drive to school today, we feel so blessed to have not only our needs met...but to have this special "want" be possible as well. Kenny chimed in from the back seat "God takes very good care of us!!".

Indeed, He does. Thank you so much. Now I just have to live with 3 wound up little boys for another week until we actually get there! I am not sure they will sleep at all tonight as they peruse the guide book we were also sent in our special package and imagine all the rides we will go on. I have to admit that even I am super excited about this!!

I have had many readers over the past year and a half say how much they appreciate the blog, or the phone calls I have had with them, etc. But I must say that the support each and every one of you has shown our family during this amazing time has helped in ways you can not begin to know. It is not necessarily about this wonderful gift of a trip that others have combined to help us have, or the blessing beyond words with help trying to bring our girls is in the emails written late at night by someone who wanted to tell me to hang in there when the going got rough, it is in the prayers many of you have sent up for our family as we traveled and transitioned, it is in the blog comments letting me know that something I said touched you.

It all means so much, and we are a little community here with tentacles reaching out further than you know...prayers for Amir, prayers for 2 girls, prayers for our now adopted buddies Turat and Askar, prayers and help for John Wright as he helps others. Mainly though, it is support for one another as we walk a road less traveled, and it is a two way street. I offer all I have to offer, which is our experiences and honesty about what this is really like. You offer love and encouragement...and sometimes action.

As I hit 30,000 blog hits this past week, as I received an email from our Disney Queen helping us, as I opened our care package this afternoon....I felt so connected, so "carried" by others. I only hope that others have received the same back from me in ways I could offer it over the years.

Thank you, all of you, so very much for everything.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Want To Teach Fishing???

Ok everyone, I found something on John Wright's blog that is so unique I couldn't help but post it here. Check out this wonderful Kyrgyz nativity set:

This is so awesome and of course, I gotta get one :-) Way too perfect for our family. Not only is it a terrific addition to your holiday decor, but the money is going to be used in ways that are really going to make a difference. If you like and are interested in microloans and such, why not purchase one of these sets and make a difference rather than just loaning money? I love it when capitalism comes into play and we can help others help themselves without merely handing money over. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

Got your rod and reel handy??

Monday, May 12, 2008

Catching Up!

I had a friend at church tell me yesterday "I know you must have been busy this week as you didn't blog at all!". Hahaha! Well, it has been a busy week as we are trying desperately to finish our painting projects, get the house back in order, and do all the end of the school year tasks that seem to be compounded in the last two weeks. My house is a complete and utter wreck, but is slowly "getting there" and I will be so happy when all the mess is cleaned up and put away. The boys' room is turning out nice, although definitely not "Martha-ish". I will post pictures when it is all completed. I need some wall art or something but haven't seen anything that "pops" for me.

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. I don't really put much stock in those Hallmark-type holidays, as I feel that we ought to show one another daily how much we value our relationships. But it IS kind of nice to be a little spoiled once in awhile. Kenny had talked about it for a week, and was very excited about the whole concept. He insisted that they had to make me breakfast and do EVERYTHING for me all day. Well, that didn't quite happen but it was close :-) My Mother's Day actually started the day before when Matthew and Kenny hid something in our bathroom and told me I couldn't use it until the next day :-) I also received a double bouquet of carnations from Dominick the night before. Yesterday morning when I woke up, I had a little treasure hunt in my bathroom...I had 2 pairs of earrings from the school store displayed on the counter for me ( $ .50 a pair...good bargain hunting!), a beautiful pin made of colored glass that Matthew made in class that was sitting on a shelf with a handmade card, and an orange handmade key chain from Kenny hidden under a towel! I also had my favorite breakfast of french toast waiting for me.

After such a sweet start to my day, it was off to church where I was in a very unfamiliar role delivering a sermon I had written and leading services for the day. To say I was filled with fear is a bit of an understatement. While I think many might have expected a sermon on motherhood, considering the special holiday and the deeper meaning for me as a mom...Mother's Day is our adoption anniversary for Matthew as well as our anniversary of attending our church for the first was not at all what I felt led to talk about so my sermon had nothing at all to do with the theme of the day.

It felt very odd, standing at the pulpit yesterday. It is so far afield from anything I have ever envisioned myself doing. We tend to pigeonhole ourselves into certain roles...I am the scraggly looking T-Shirt and Walmart jean wearing mom. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't see myself as having much to say of value to anyone, nothing that would touch a soul or give one pause for thought. I am just me, doing my thing every day, cleaning my house, nagging at kids to brush teeth and get their homework done. I have had no Big Life Experience from which to draw, no Great Education to rely on. I'm Matthew asked me before church if I was scared, and of course I answered "Yes! I really am!". He then asked why I was doing it if I was scared and I explained to him that doing things that are scary (terrifying might more aptly describe it!) or difficult is good for us, that it makes us stretch and grow and discover things about ourselves we might not otherwise know. Playing it "safe" is easier, for sure, but in little tiny ways we can add adventure and excitement to our lives by accepting these small challenges.

But this was different in some way, and I can not really express it. I wanted SO badly for God to work through me, to tell people something they needed to hear just when they needed to hear it. I didn't want it to be about "me" and what I thought would be interesting, witty or timely. I have done some speaking about adoption and obviously this entire blog is about my family and how it was formed, but that is so much a part of my heart that it is flows easily and because it is really for my hubby and kids it doesn't matter...I can't really say anything wrong. I know there are some of my readers who certainly disagree with me on some points and consider me "wrong" at times, but since I don't worry about what anyone else thinks about the blog and my family loves me it just doesn't matter what others think. But a sermon really IS for public consumption, the whole idea is to present a message that has meaning to others, to teach and to reveal. I just don't know how to do that.

But maybe God used me somehow yesterday, I don't really know but hopefully He did.

After church we went to the Hot Springs in Ouray, which has to be one of the most beautiful places ever. Ouray is a tiny little town set down low in a narrow canyon and the hot springs pool is surrounded by "Majestic Mountains" that are still snow capped and pine covered. We spent the afternoon there with several friends including the family that we are so close to that is moving. As I shared with their dad who has already left for his new job, watching all of our kids together was such a joy. There is an innocence that they all share, teens and young ones alike. Our families are so similar in that they know how to have fun without a lot of "stuff", they are all truly having a childhood filled with wonder and fascination, of playing tag in the dark, making "forts" out of blankets, and just hanging out. We left in the early evening light, completely "played out", exhausted and feeling happier than I recall feeling in weeks. Just filled with peace.

I also had an encounter in the pool with an acquaintance who I learned lost her mom that morning, and that really hit a nerve. Here she was with her own family of young children trying to do "the mom thing" as her heart must have been ripped open and raw. Mother's Day for her will always be a reminder of the day her mother passed away, it will forever have a different meaning than it does for the rest of us. I could only hope that she drew some comfort from seeing her own children play and knowing she was doing what her mom would have no doubt wanted her to do. From one generation to the next, passed down, our own mothering surely reflects the mothering we have received...or I guess in some cases what some had hoped to receive. I am one of the fortunate ones who has a dedicated mom and I hope my children are benefiting from that.

And as I reflected on all of this, my mind couldn't help but wander down a particular path, wishing that two special little girls had a mom to be with on Mother's Day. I wish their experience with "mothers" thus far was one that was more positive, that they had been held tenderly in someones lap, that a mommy had whispered in their ear "I love you forever" as I have done so many times with each of the boys. And I fervently hoped that by this time next year they have the mom they have deserved since the day they were born, be it myself or someone else who will treasure them, protect them, and nurture them.

So we are on to yet another busy week as the school year draws to a close and our trip to California fast approaches. Hopefully we will feel caught up before we leave and can relax as a family together without the ringing of cell phones or the busyness of everyday life. We are also quickly approaching our 1st anniversary as Kenny's family, as I recall this time last year being filled with preparations for our trip to Kyrgyzstan. There is so much to reflect on about this past year, so much that can not really accurately be explained. But that is for another day...Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day, for just about every single woman has mothered someone, regardless if they have ever given birth or not.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Slide Show

I received another email from a prospective adoptive family that I shared Kenny's baptism slide show with and realized it might touch others as well. If you would like to receive a copy of it, email me and I will gladly mail one to you. Many of the photos have already been shared here on the blog. It is short, just 3 minutes or so, but I'd be happy to send it to anyone who wants to see it.

Down For the Count

Why is it that we seem to get sick at the most inopportune times? Or is it that our lives are so busy that ANYTIME is not a good time to be ill? Right now I am sitting here, still in a bit of a feverish state, trying to kick a case of strep throat. I've been in bed for two days with 104 fever, all while having a houseful of additional kids coming and going. Thank goodness for the husband I have who will step in and run the show when I am down for the count. I have tons of emails to answer, a house that looks like a disaster area and construction zone combined, and to be honest I feel so lousy I could care less about any of it.

My mom tried to convince me today to slow down, to not take on so much. Ever since I was a kid, I always got things worse than everyone else...if they had a cold, mine would last 10 days longer...if they got the 24 hour flu, mine would extend 4 more days. I know I need to back off a bit sometimes, but it seems there is always something to do and it's always something I enjoy. I also put a lot of pressure on myself, feeling guilty if I don't answer emails as soon as possible or if I know I can do something but I say "no" without a really good excuse. Finding that balance sure is hard, isn't it?

So, we'll muddle through the next few weeks and look forward to summer...we have a busy few weeks ahead. I just realized I still have to finish some of Kenny's final adoption paperwork...his readoption and citizenship documents. I had totally forgotten about it and need to get going on that. If this summer brings with it a new round of adoption dossier compiling, the last thing we need is to not even have the last one totally completed before beginning another! And if it doesn't happen, at least I'll have it out of the way and done.

In the meantime, I think I am going back to bed. Maybe the next time I blog there will be something more than inane nonsense that comes out!