Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Really Great Moment!

So yesterday, my twin girls, Sierra & Savannah, had their first day of preschool. Same school they went to last year. Different teacher. Different classroom. Different time (afternoon instead of morning.) Get to ride the bus!!!

It was also their first day at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship.) This is totally new to them, since they have always had school in the mornings.

They put on their new school clothes with glee, grabbed their "bible bags," and headed out for the day.

We were so crazy that I did not even have time to open the living room curtains before we left. I did not even notice, but Savannah had cracked them open and set her favorite baby doll peeking out the window. As we got in the car, she said, "Baby Emma is maybe waving at me. She is maybe gonna miss me." We all looked at the window and waved. It was sweet!

Both girls loved BSF. Sierra was ready to head back the next day... I think she thought is was another VBS. (Vacation Bible School where we would go everyday for a week.)

I drove them to school for the first day. Sierra was "maybe gonna be a little shy" as she often does at first. We found their cubbies with their pictures on them. We read a book together and I headed out with them seemingly content.

Later I picked up Austin from school and spent some really wonderful one-on-one time with him. We worked on his reading and spelling homework. I am really proud of how hard he tries! He is doing great! He then grabbed two books for me to read on the front step as we waited for the girls to arrive on the bus. Such a pleasant time.

Pretty soon I heard the bus waiting to turn the corner onto our street. Next thing I knew, I was watching it pass on by! I grabbed my cell phone and waited to see what happened next. About a minute later, the home phone rang. They had the wrong house number and were turning around down the street!

The bus finally pulled up and the door opened. Savannah appeared first. She smiled and said, "I was sleeping!" Sierra appeared right behind. Both were sweaty but happy! They bounded off the bus and onto the grass. I kneeled down to hug them and they hugged me right down to the ground. Here is where the REALLY GREAT moment began...

Savannah sat on one side of my lap. Sierra on the other. Austin climbed the tree and then landed near us on the grass. We half sat, half laid there. We chatted. We cuddled. They wrestled and laughed. It was pure contentment. We were home. We were together. We just were.

I tried to snap some pictures... which was a challenge when they were literally sitting on me!
But I will never forget that moment.

It was just.... well, it just was.

A Really Great Moment

Hey- I know it has been a LONG, LONG time since I have written. With that said, I write, now.
I have had two really great moments in the last week..

I waited outside the school, watching all the parents gather to see the precious faces of their little ones burst out of the doors after the first day. Frankly, it was a tad bit chaotic. All the parents and their dogs, cats, and small children converged by the gate. As the clock ticked, the crowds moved forward. Pretty soon I could barely see the door.

The thoughts began to race, "Would my precious 1st-day-1st-grader be trampled by the big-confident-2nd-graders?" (Most 3rd-5th graders come out a different door!) "Would he get flustered when the sun blinded him and he could not find his mommy?" "Would my two pre-school girls get lost in the shuffle?"

Before long, Austin appeared, shielding the sun from his eyes with his arm. Our eyes connected and my girls yelled. "Austin!" He ran to me, wrapped his arms around me and said, "First grade is SO great! I LOVE it!"

Now, keep in mind, Austin does hug us, but it was not until recently that he started hugging more spontaneously. I still remember "teaching" him to hug Daddy when he left for work. We would say, "put your arms around Daddy and squeeze." Also, he does not always know how to connect to his emotions. We are helping him to recognize when he is feeling something and learn how to express it appropriately.

So for me, this genuine expression of joy was pretty great!

We then went out for "special drinks." He chose the Icees at Target!
Later we got ice cream to celebrate both him and Daddy finishing their first day in a new grade.

Life is good!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pondering Airport Interactions

I love people watching!

Today I enjoyed a sandwich at the PDX food court. I watched airplanes out the window... a little. Mostly I watched people. I was most intrigued by the two families sitting near me. We'll call them Family A and Family B.

Mommy A enjoyed lunch with Big Brother A (age 6?), Little Brother A (age 4?), and Baby Sister A (baby!). I was impressed as she guarded their cart of various bags, car seats and a stroller. She munched on her healthy sandwich. She frequently interacted with the A Kids. She grabbed their Kids Meal bags and pointed to interesting words. You could see the gears of their brains turning as they sought to answer her intriguing questions. The A Family smiled together, interacted often, and seemed happy to be where they were... together.

Across the aisle, Mommy B appeared to be playing a game on her cell phone. (She was too slow to be texting... and not using her thumbs!!!) Big Sister B (age 10?) happily traced cursive letters into a workbook. I could tell that she was the kind of girl that made teachers like my husband happy.... the kind that loved doing their work, and wanted to do the best they could. Little Brother B (age 8?) had eyes focused on his Gameboy (or whatever they are called these days!) Mommy B, Sister B, and Brother B rarely smiled, did not interact with each other, and seemed like they would rather be somewhere else, yet they were making the most of their waiting time.

After awhile, Daddy A appeared and took his seat. Parents A had been "tag teaming" so they could each have their own Food Court selection. As he sat down, Brothers A greeted Daddy A. "Look at this Dad!" was among the comments. Before long, though, Daddy A was leaning back in his chair. Not distancing himself from the table, but distancing himself from the interaction. He happily interacted when Baby A cooed a "Daddy." He was not unwilling to interact, but perhaps preferred not to initiate it.

A few minutes later, Daddy B appeared. His self-focused and quiet Family B became a buzz of energy. Brother B put away his game, stood up and chattered as he looked at the plane out the window. Sister B showed Daddy B her work and challenged him to practice his own cursive on her pad. Mommy B smiled and interacted with everyone.... in between game turns. She even practiced her cursive when Daddy B was struggling. Before long, Daddy B, Sister B and Brother B went for a walk around the airport. Mommy B kept on with her game. (I am sure she was designated to watch their things, or perhaps she was just on a winning streak!)

Two different families. Two different sets of interactions.

Both families have a story behind what I saw. And I am not writing this to judge any of them.

What struck me was this: How do I interact with people?
Do I make eye contact and initiate conversation?
Am I happy to respond when others initiate interaction with me?
When I come into a group of people, what kind of energy do I bring with me?

Again, every person has his/her own story. Every day has its own story. There are moments I can't be pulled away from interacting. There are others moments I just want one minute to not interact. With everything, I think balance is important.

So, I will keep watching people interact.
I will keep pondering how I interact.

Will you ponder with me?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lost and Found report!

Savannah awoke in a pleasant mood today. Yet, before long, she remembered her "broken phone" and became very upset.

While I was in the shower, she opened the door and whined a few choruses, barely audible through the water stream. I hollered out, "Go look on your bed for your phone." (Since she needed to make her bed.)

A few minutes later, I stepped out of the shower, looked down, and saw the "broken phone" lodged between the step stool and the bathtub. I dried off and called her in to move the step stool.... A chorus of angels sang "Hallelujah!" as she retrieved her treasure!

Life is good, once again!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Broken Phone

So, the other day, we headed to our local cell phone store. We are those people still on two year contracts with our cell phone provider. So, roughly every two years, we head on over. Usually we just get whichever phone comes free.

But this year, we did it the day before my birthday. (Yes, I big birthday with a zero at the end.) Needless to say, my husband was feeling generous. So, I got to pick one that cost us, maybe $20!!! (Plus the car charger and the memory card that added to the bill.) It is a pretty color. I like that.

We don't text much. Take only a few pics. (I use my big camera for that!!) Don't use it to listen to music. We are old fogies in the phone world. We talk on it. We leave messages. This new phone does not even come with a single free game! Yet, it is the perfect phone for me. I even found a ring I like. (Do they call them"rings" anymore??)

Well, since we are such loving parents, we gave our kids our old phones. I even dug up my 4 year old phone so all three kids could have their own. We quickly taught them how to find the "ring" settings. Savannah begged us to show her the camera button. Then we sat back, smiled, and waited for the batteries to wear out.

Austin was disappointed that his had no camera. Although, he did get a screen with swimming fish on it. The juice ran out pretty quickly (it was the four year old phone!) But it still made a great toy. Well, that is, unless you are boy and choose to take the mildly broken hinge and rip it completely off! I guess he had fun!

Sierra promptly found "The Seven." The sound called "Ringtone 7" is a lovely song. She danced around to it like a ballerina, or pretended to be falling asleep to it. When she couldn't find it, she would say, "Where is the seven?" It was a crack up to watch. She then figured out how to plug it in and recharge it. Hmmm... that cord might have to disappear someday. We'll see.

Savannah, our phone talker, was in heaven the moment we gave the phone to her. "Mama, after rest time, can I have your 'broken phone' please?" She immediately began taking pictures, listening to sounds, and pretending to make calls. Sometimes the phone lived in one of her purses. Sometimes in a pocket. Often, it was just out, being used. She loved her 'broken phone!'

And then it happened.... the "broken phone" disappeared!! Savannah begged us all to help her look after dinner. We searched the patio, the back yard, the shed, her room, the bathroom, the living room... every room!!! Oh the tears! Oh the sadness! Oh my!!! She even asked to borrow Sierra's phone. Sierra refused. OH MY! You would have thought the world had ended!!!

Of course, I was a compassionate mom. I hugged her. I empathized. I helped her search. Finally, I urged her to get on her pajamas. She wanted her "cozy pajamas- with the feet." I, instead, found her some weather appropriate jammies and promised to cuddle with her instead. She slowly began getting going on her jammies... SOBBING all the way!

I immediately headed for the video camera. Yes, I did!! I can't wait until she is 16 and has lost her phone, again, and we capture her teen tantrum. I can hear it now... "Dad, stop it!" (I will pass the camera to him, of course!) Then, at a graduation party, or some special event, we will drag out the home movies (in whatever technological form they are in by then!) and relive the phone dramas! I can't wait!

I giggled as I captured her in all her loveliness!

After sobbing, and crying, and carrying on, (in front of the camera!) she looked up and said, "Will you walk away please because I am going to take off my shirt?" Oh, my modest child. I smiled as I walked away.

She is sleeping now. Probably dreaming of her precious "broken phone!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Great Guy!

This is just a quick post to say that I really love my husband! He is a great dad... Happy Father's Day!

In the last two days he has done these amazing dad things: made breakfast, walked on snow, made projects involving pipe cleaners, rode bikes, fixed the light, took a nap, cuddled on the couch, held hands in the parking lot, read books, made a ponytail..... (and the list goes on.)

Gotta love him!

This is a pic from our trip to the coast in May. Kerick grabbed a sea star for the kids to check out! I wanted to include pics from today too, but it is late at night and I am working on going to bed earlier!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Unthinkable

Today, the unthinkable happened....
I was driving my posse home when my cell phone rang. I answered. I chatted, even as I pulled into our driveway.

Before I knew it, the kids had slammed their doors (which half the time they leave wide open) and run straight into the house. (The house door was unlocked, so they literally ran right in!) I followed, lugging my purse, some garbage, a water bottle, the snack bag... still chatting on the phone.

It was nearing "Rest Time," and I was so impressed with my kids. One went right in to "get poops out" (the pre-Rest Time ritual!) The others ran right to their rooms. I threw my garbage away, set down my purse, snack bag and water bottle, checked the poop in the toilet.... all while chatting on the phone! (No... the phone did NOT fall into the toilet.. it is worse!)

Still chatting, I popped my head into a bedroom to see my son quietly playing (a rare occurrence!) The one daughter was still finishing in the bathroom, and I went to the other bedroom to check on the third child.

Hmmm.... not there. I walked back out to the living room.... STILL CHATTING! "She must be playing (or hiding) in her brother's room," I thought. I turned to walk back in there.... still chatting- but about to hang up now.... when something caught my eye, running past the front window.

Then, in the front door walks my third child (4.5 years old.) Tears ran down her face. (AND I HUNG UP!!!) A little confused, I said, "What happened?" She said, rather calmly for her state of distress, "I was still in the car!"

I hugged her and cried my own tears. After grabbing her favorite blanket, we snuggled on the couch. I told her how sorry I was that this happened, and that I would make sure it would not happen again. She explained how she tried one door, but it did not work. Finally, she got another door open.

To say the least, I FELT AWFUL!

Later, I got all over analytical and philosophical about the whole thing:
First, I tried to imagine how scared she must have been. How alone. How sad.

Secondly, I realized how emotionally attached I was. This may sound weird. But to those who know my story, it may make a little sense. My children are very much MY children. Yet, they are not. I did not birth them. I did not choose their first names. There will always be "another mother." (Don't worry, I am not debating the idea of really makes a mother... just stating a fact.)

Sometimes, when other mom's say things about their kids, I cannot totally relate. I wonder, "Am I just old and cynical, or did I miss some special something?" I mean, I love them. I feel a bond with them. Yet, it is different.

Today, and a handful of times before, I felt that bond in a deeper way. This was my baby. I ached for her!

Thirdly, I was reminded once again that God is the only one who can guarantee that He will always be with us. He will never leave us or forsake us!

Isaiah 49:15 "Can a mother forget her baby?..... Even if these forget, I will never forget you." (from the Carol paraphrase.)

There is a wonderful song by Plumb called "In My Arms." It is a sweet song of a mother singing to her new baby. The chorus says:
Clouds will rage and
Storms will race in
But you will be safe
In my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe
In my arms

Yet, with all respect to Plumb, I cannot sing it that way. I don't agree! There is absolutely NO WAY that I can guarantee that my children will be safe in MY arms. Frankly, I think it does them a disservice to teach them this. Yes, they need to trust that their parent will be there for them. Believe me, I have seen the affects of this. Yet, they are really only safe in the arms of our Lord. "In GOD'S arms," is how I sing along.

If this journey of singleness, infertility, foster care and adoption has taught me anything, it has taught me to hold my children with open hands. People say that all the time... it is a little cliche'. Yet, I totally get it! When your children of 14 months get sent to back to their "home," you are vividly reminded that they are not really your children at all. They are God's!

It is sooo important to me that my kids understand this: I love them and their dad loves them. Our job is to do our best to take care of them. They can trust us to do that. But most importantly, God loves them. HE will never forget them or forsake them. They can trust Him!!

And so, I wrote this little bedtime song for my kids, my precious gifts from God:
I love you, Austin, Sierra, Savannah (whoever I am singing to)
And God loves you too.
God will be with you whatever you do.
I love you, Austin, Sierra, Savannah,
And God loves you too.
God will take care of you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beauty out of Chaos

The following quote was on my Starbucks cup yesterday: "The good mother is a great artist ever creating beauty out of chaos." (Alice Randall)

Later, it came alive to me as I attended an event that was, well, somewhat chaotic. In situations like these, I find myself first analyzing the situation. I am generally ok with chaos if I know there is someone "managing" that chaos. If I find no manager,then I generally assume the manager position. If I find a manager, but doubt their ability to manage such chaos, I quickly offer my services as an assistant manager.

Yet, this time, I did not want to be responsible. I did not want to put out the energy. I wanted nothing to do with the chaos. I was scared it would get out of control, and someone would get hurt. I did not want anyone I loved to get hurt. I did not want to be responsible when others got hurt. I just wanted to run away from the chaos.

It got me thinking about life and all it's chaos. There have been times in my life that have seemed more chaotic than others. Sometimes I have even wished I could run away.

Yet, I know that there is a great artist, a capable manager, overseeing my chaos. I can always trust Him to keep me safe amongst the messiness of life. The chaos may not go away. The messiness may remain. Yet, I can trust Him to make beauty out of my chaos.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Graduate!

Well, he did it! Austin has officially made it through Kindergarten!

Austin started the day with breakfast on the "This is your day.. CELEBRATE" plate. He could actually read the first four words!!!

Then we headed to his "Graduation" Celebration... Let me say, I have never seen such a high ratio of cameras to people. You'd think these kids were celebrities! (Well, each one is to his/her own "people!")

The Class of 2021 (crazy!) sang some cute and touching songs.
They all announced what they want to be when they grow up. Austin has been practicing for weeks.... "A Fire Chief!" "A CERT Guy!" "An Ambulance Worker!" "An Artist!" But this week, he decided he wanted to be like one of his little buddies.... "An Army Guy!"

A pretty accurate likeness, I say!

Apparently, he was a little exhausted from all the excitement!

They finished with a favorite song... "Tootie Ta!"
They sang and danced around like a bunch of sillies! It was awesome!

Grandma and Grandpa then treated us to McDonald's
(Happy Meal... Grad's pick!)

What a great day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Raisin

I was feeling like "Holly Homemaker" this morning as I tended to the laundry. I opened the door of our front loading washing machine. More often than not, when I do this, I find treasures resting near the door... a "hair pretty," a penny, a foam sticker, or whatever made its way into a pocket of a child.

Today was no different. I opened. I looked. I saw... a treasure. A raisin. A big, juicy, water-filled raisin. You know how they get when they are water logged. Remembering our recent oatmeal breakfast, I marveled at how such a treasure made this exciting journey.

I grabbed a handful of wet laundry in one hand. With the other hand, I went for the raisin. I reached out and gently squeezed my fingers around the treasured fruit. This water-logged treat must have lost all its fiber in the spin cycle. I mean, it was squishy!

It did not take long, as you might have guessed, to figure out this one thing... what I thought I was dealing with, was not at all what I was dealing with. Oh no. Not at all! As I considered putting my finger to my nose, just to confirm my suspicion, I blurted out, "It's not a raisin. It's a poop!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You have TWO choices...

Yesterday, I found myself lugging my shopping cart through the grocery store. All three kids clamored for a spot on the edge of the cart, Jamba Juice cups in hand. (Mama knows to have children well snacked before such a trip!)

Not long into our journey, in the dairy product aisle to be exact, the whining started. I quickly remembered the words of our family therapist as she recently challenged us to try something new. So, being the good student, I repeated the mantra.... "You have two choices..... You may stand quietly at the cart, or sit on the floor until you calm down."

At least four times this trip (I lost count,) I found myself standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, smiling, while my sweet girl screamed on the floor. My other two cuties were quickly losing their patience, turning the shopping cart into a jungle gym. Fellow shoppers passed by: Some smiling, some avoiding eye contact, and some pushing their sweet, well-mannered children as if to say, "My child would never act that way!" I had to laugh as some passed us more than once, sitting in different aisles each time. And yet, with each aisle, I persisted... "You have two choices!"

I found myself wishing for a latte, or a bubble bath, or at our house... 2 minutes alone in the bathroom! I knew this was my moment. I had two choices!!!! I could lose my patience and join in the grumpy attitude game, or I could calmly stand firm.

I believe I made the right choice. (Although, as time got later, I knew it would not be long before all four of us were grumpy from hunger!) I remained calm. I praised my children when I could. I remembered almost all the ingredients I needed for dinner. Later, I reheated leftovers instead... with a willing heart!!

At times like this, I remember that this is what I prayed for! This is my dream come true! I asked God to provide these beautiful children. Will I not persist in parenting them with a willing heart?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

With a Willing Heart

We recently adopted a Family Motto, so to speak...
"Right Away, All the Way, With a Willing Heart!"

With our children, they are praised for following directions "Right Away, All the Way, With a Willing Heart!" Of course, no one can be forced into a Willing Heart. Yet, we seek to affirm this attitude, and thus grow it in our children.

I have been thinking a lot about the state of my heart. How willing am I? Am I willing to answer my child's question for the 27th time? Am I willing to bite my tongue when I am frustrated? Am I willing to thank the Lord for my precious children, when they are whining in the middle of the night, again?

Most importantly, am I willing to be the kind of person God wants me to be? If I am.... if I truly seek the right attitude, how willing am I to follow His directions? Do I obey God "Right Away, All the Way, With a Willing Heart??"

I hope to share parts of this journey of my heart. I am new to this blogging thing and have no idea how often I will share. (Or if anyone will want to read it!) In any case... here I go... with a Willing Heart!!!