Friday, March 30, 2012

Cold Feet

If you see me on the street sometime in the next few weeks and you say hello, please don't be offended if I walk the way in tears.  It's not you, it's me.

Lately, I 've been crying at the drop of a hat.  A few nights ago I fell apart because I couldn't get the pictures downloaded from camera to my computer.  At church last Sunday, I cried twice before we even got to the coffee break. 

We are so close.

Closer than I can even wrap our brain around.  In less than 30 days, I will likely have 6 babies in my home.

And a couple of nights ago, suddenly, I got a very strange case of cold feet. 

I was sorting through a box of baby clothes that another wonderful Congo Mama sent to me.  As I held up each little pink onesie, each tiny little dress, I started to have a small but nagging sense of panic.  Those little dresses weren't giving me that warm fuzzy feeling that they normally would.

That little voice in my head (the one that swears a little) said "What in the H*** are we doing?" 

I'm starting to crack.  The problem is I have a very busy brain and I'm having trouble slowing it down.  At night I'm waking up over and over again.  All night my brain is making lists and schedules, going over paperwork and calendars.  So I wake up each morning exhausted from my busy night.

And then all day long my brain is a pile of unfocused emotional mush.  I think about Brian leaving, I start to cry.  I see a black baby at the store, I start to cry.  Imagine being away from Grace and the boys when I travel, I start to cry.  My students won't turn in their homework, I start to cry.  My stupid phone won't get a signal.....well you see the pattern.

It doesn't help that I am smack in the middle of the busiest month of school that happens all year: theatre competition season.  It's causing me to have guilt all the time.  When I'm at rehearsals I'm worrying about all the things I have to do to get ready for the trip and the homecoming.  And when I'm at home I feel guilty for not putting more energy into the show.

But to be honest, I just don't have any more energy to put anywhere.  I'm just one great big ball of anxiety.  I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Probably every parent getting ready to bring home a new child feels this way.  My friend Kristi and I have been sharing messages on a daily basis about how stressed we are feeling.  Kristi and her husband Joel were part of our travel group to Congo.  We spent 3 weeks together "bonding" with our kids and with each other.  Amazingly, we will be together again in just a few weeks.  She and Joel started their 2nd adoption about the same time that we were starting number 5 and 6.  I can't believe how lucky and relieved I am that we will be finishing the process together as well.

OK, I feel a tiny bit more calm now.  After all, the process is almost finished.  Our last bit of paperwork got put in the mail on Tuesday and will be in the hands of all the right people next week.  My packing list is made, I just have to squeeze it all into a suitcase and not set off the weight limit alarms. 

My feet are feeling warmer.  Those dresses are looking sweeter.  I can sort of feel their tiny little arms around my neck, their warm breath by my ear as they sleep against my chest.  

We are so close.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving Mountains

Well folks, Brian leaves in less than 2 weeks.  The waiting and waiting has now turned into rushing and rushing!

Rushing to fill out the last of our paperwork.
Rushing to get packed.
Rushing to get the house ready.
Rushing to raise a few more dollars.  Ok, a few more thousand dollars. OUCH!  Some of the funds that we expected to come through by now didn't and some expenses that we didn't expect (yes, our washing machine died this week) have occurred.  I'm trying to stay calm about that part and trust God will move mountains to get our girls home--but I think I'm going to need some help from all of you, too.  So here I am once again humbly asking you to:

SUPPORT OUR GARAGE SALE--on Saturday, March 31, we will be having another garage sale at our home.  If you have items you would like to donate, please contact me and we can arrange to have them picked up or you can drop them by our house.  Then come by on Saturday and shop til you drop!!! It is a huge community wide garage sale and it runs from 7am-2pm. We are splitting the proceeds with the Mosley's, another adoptive family from our church.  So every cent goes to bringing home babies!

SUPPORT US AT GIVE1SAVE1--We have been chosen as the Give1Save1 family during the week of April 8-14.  That means any money donated that week on the Give1Save1 website goes directly to our family.  A new family adopting from Africa is featured every week.  I think that the least that any family raised was about $800, but the most was over $8000.  How about that for moving mountains!  I know many of you have already donated to us so what I am asking of you is to SPREAD THE WORD! Keep hitting Share Share Share on your Facebook page, put it on your blog, tweet it, shout it from the rooftops. 

SHOP THE MORE LOVE STORE--I still have 42 MORE LOVE t-shirts on my shelf.  Do you have yours yet???  They are now $15 for 1 or $25 for 2. 

SUPPORT THE CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND--In addition to these last ditch efforts at fundraising, we are also collecting the following supplies to deliver to the orphanages that we visit on our trip:

Baby Formula--any size, any brand
Diaper Rash Ointment
Scabies Meds--the following are OTC and can be purchased at local Walmarts and Drug Stores...
[A200® Lice, Nix® Complete Lice Treatment System, Nix® Creme Rinse Lice Treatment, Nix® Creme Rinse, Nix® Lice Control Spray, Rid®]
Medical Supplies such as syringes, bandages, gauze, multivitamis for kids, and antibacterial creams, etc... etc....
fitted twin sheets
Money (to buy food in country for these precious children) 

All donations are GREATLY appreciated! You can also donate online at

please specify that this is for "Team Spring Food for Orphanages". You can do so in the "Additional Information" section under "Comments"

Thank you thank you thank you in advance for serving "the least of these"!!!!!

So if all this talk hasn't convinced you to help us move some mountains then maybe this sweetie pie will!

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Trayvon is my son"

"Trayvon is your son"

Yes, he is.  But in my house he is named Haven...and JoJo...and Manny...

I heard this quote tonight on the radio from Trayvon Martin's mother.   Her voice, her loss, hit me like a baseball bat and tears just poured out of me.  But tears don't matter.  They can't heal what will be broken in that woman for the rest of her life.

What will this world be like in 13 years when Haven is the same age as Trayvon Martin?  What will it be like when I can't protect him from the ugly face of racism?  Will there ever be a time when he can safely walk alone down a street and not be someones potential target because of the color of his skin?

Have you seen my boys skin?  Have you touched his sweet brown cheek and caught a glimpse of his dimples? 

Now, picture my Haven dead on the ground.  Don't look away from that image.  You stop and look!

A facebook friend posted yesterday about a white man yelling the "N" word as she crossed the street with her beautiful black baby girl.  I read her post out loud to some friends that were sitting in my office with me and it stunned every one of us in the room into silence.

Oh My Goodness.  Where does that senseless hate come from?  And how in the world as white woman will I prepare my sons for a future as black men.

So many questions that make my head feel heavy and make my shoulders sag under their ugly weight.

The only answer I can think of...we must never be silent.  We can never pretend it doesn't happen or its not our fault or its not our problem. 

Trayvon Martin is my son, he's your son. 

And if he's not, then what does that make you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Break

So if it seems like I've been MIA for a week or so it's sort of true.  I've been on Spring Break!!!

One of the greatest inventions in the world is Spring Break.  As a teacher it comes just in the nick of time. This year it coincided with daylight savings time, so it was even better.  It's warm outside, it's light until almost 8pm and we can all stay up late and sleep in the next morning.

We haven't done any traveling this year.  Instead, we've had a big Spring Break filled with nesting.  We got the word just a few days ago that our girls are coming home most likely in late April.  So Brian will leave in 3 weeks for his first trip which lasts about a week.  I think my amazing mother-in-law is coming to take care of me and the kids while Brian is away.  Then about 2 weeks after the first trip we will both go back for a second trip to bring home Baby K and Baby L.

When you hit this point in the adoption process all heck breaks loose and we start running around like chicken's with our heads cut off.  Ok, that's just me.  Brian does a much better job of internalizing his chicken headed-ness.  There are a million things to do, a million things we still need, a huge chunk of money that we still don't have, forms to fill out and luggage to pack.  Eeeeek.  I think I need to lay down.

But no, I have to get up and move move move!!!!

The paperwork is probably the part that stresses me out the most.  Brian is allergic to paper (no not literally) so anything related to filing, filling out, or copying is my job.  And since we are bringing home two girls at once everything has to be done twice.  All this paperwork will travel with us overseas and when all the right forms have been filed and all the right people have signed all the right paperwork then we can finally come home with our beautiful baby girls. 

Have I mentioned our unbelievably adorable they are??? I can't wait for you to see them.

So here on the home front we have been moving furniture and doing additional baby proofing of the house (although JoJo can probably pick locks and hot wire cars already so I don't know how much good it will do).  We are getting the "girls room" ready to hold 3 girls instead of just one.  We are trying to find all the missing supplies we need like extra high chairs and car seats and baby girl clothes.  Grace was older than these girls when we got her so we have almost nothing in the way of clothes in that 9-12 month range.  Good thing it will be warm when we get home and they can spend most of their time in cute fluffy cloth diapers.  We've also had some of those tasks that are just more convenient during vacations.  The littles had their 18 month immunizations.  I got a mole removed from my neck.  Brian's been getting the pool ready for summer and tomorrow he gets to clean the pine needles out of our rain gutters.  The fun never ends!

We have squeezed in some fun this week.  We've been to the park several times.  We took our busload to the drive-in last night to see The Lorax (we will probably never get all the popcorn out of the seats).  We've played board games and ate donuts and took lots of naps.  Lots of lovely springtime activities. 

These next 3 weeks are going to take forever.  And they are going to fly by.  This may sound strange, but, it's a bittersweet feeling, these last few days as a family of 6.  I won't get to spend as much time laying around in the morning cuddling Grace.  And I won't be able to sit at the computer with Manny and JoJo on my lap watching music videos.  And I won't get to hold Haven's hand as often because there will be someone else that I have to carry or push or chase through the parking lot.  When there are six kids under six years old in your house someone is almost always crying.  I'll have to decide who is injured the worst and they'll get picked up first.  Things will be different when we are 8.

In other news, JoJo gave me a black eye with one of his toys, we shaved off all the boys twists after JoJo filled he and Manny's heads with potting soil (maybe that's why he gave me the black eye).  Grace got a super cute, very short new hair cut.  She hates to have a "sweaty neck" so we cut if off and she loves it short.  Haven is going through a phase where he spills every drink we give him.  But he's also the most generous and helpful little guy in the house.  Manny is talking and signing up a storm.  The language part of his brain has really clicked.  In fact, just yesterday he learned to say "NO"!  It makes us laugh now, but I'm sure that won't last long.  JoJo still only says "hi", "bye", and "tree" in a strange little high pitched voice.  Go figure, our little climber says tree.

And finally, for a little shameless personal promotion.  I wrote an article for a Christian money management blog and it got picked for publication.  Go figure, me writing about money!  Ironically, it's titled " Why Going Into Debt for Adoption is the Right Thing to Do".  It is going to be posted on May 9 on the website.  If I get voted as the favorite article among his guest writers I will win a chunk of money.  So I'll be reminding you to vote we it gets a little closer.

Also, below is a video we made to apply to be a Give1Save1 family.  We are praying we get picked to be one of their featured families in April.  But just in case we don't get picked I just have to show it to you guys anyway.  It might have a picture or two of some real cutie patooties.  And look for some more pictures later this week of our Spring Break happenings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grown Up Conversations with Little People

The past year has been really full.

Full of laughter, full of love, full of extraordinary gifts.  Manny and JoJo came home, we are so close to bringing home Baby K and Baby L, we are about to be a family of EIGHT.  That is full!!

But its also been full of loss, full of tears.  And tears are a very hard thing to explain to a four year old girl.  Especially a girl like Grace who is so full of loss herself.

The tears started way back last year when we went to Congo.  Each night we would Skype with Grace and Haven and each night it was a struggle to keep my poker face on when the two of them sat crying, asking when we would be home.

Soon after we came home we had to put one of our dogs to sleep.  She was very old and had simply run out of steam.  We thought we had clearly explained that old Ruthie was going off to Heaven, but every so often Grace would ask when Ruthie was coming home from the dog hospital. 

Strangely, the idea of loss, of death, finally sank in with Grace over a person she never even met.  Little Theo.  He was a Congolese boy that came home just before Manny and JoJo.  Shortly after coming to the US he was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Every night for months Grace and I would say our evening prayers and always include a special prayer that God would heal Little Theo.  On the nights that I might forget to pray for Theo, Grace always remembered.  He and his amazing family went through many ups and downs, but through it all I just assumed that God would bring a miracle.  Little Theo would be healed.  There would surely be a happy ending.  Grace was praying fervently for it after all.  But one night the facebook message came that Theo didn't make it and my family, along with many other families across the country cried.  I couldn't help it and I couldn't cover it up. 

And I had to make sense of it for Grace.  But unlike the loss of Ruthie, this time Grace got it.  She felt it.  She lost Theo, too.  She continued to pray for him every night, but this time she prayed for him and Ruthie in heaven.

Just a few days later another loss hit our family.  We lost our baby Lisette.  Grace lost a baby sister.  Once again it was a child that Grace had never met that was bringing showers of tears to our home.  I was a mess that week.  Every time I cried, Grace cried.  I tried to hold myself together, but it hit me harder than I ever could have imagined.  Grace prayed us through it again, this time imagining that Theo and Lisette were playing together in Heaven with Ruthie and Jesus. 

Since then it seems I have been on the verge of tears almost constantly.  In addition to our adoption being an emotional roller coaster beyond all expectation, it has been a hard year at work.  My classroom has just been one more place of that often brings me to tears.  Today I spent most of my lunch hour praying that God would just give me the peace to get through to spring break.  I know that some days the tears I shed are still etched on my face when I get home from work and Grace can sense them. 

I try really hard to hide my tears from Grace.  When she sees me cry she will take my face in her hands and wipe away the tears.  She is so sensitive.  She cries easily.  She has so many fears, so many anxieties.  Her life started with loss.  All my babies started there.  I want to protect them from any more.  But I don't suppose I can.  Loss is everywhere.  It is everyday.  It will always be part of their story.

I guess Grace has found the best possible way to cope with it.  She prays and she imagines that Heaven is a place filled with children and dogs playing with Jesus.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Little Piggy

This Little Piggy as told by Grace

This little piggy went to market.  He had to buy his mom a new cup.
This little piggy stayed home.  He had a bite.  A bug bite.  A mosquito, I think.
This little piggy had roast beef.  He went to the roast beef store and bought a sandwich.
This little piggy had none.  He was in trouble.  He broke his mom's cup, so he didn't get any.  That's why the other one had to buy mom a new cup.
This little piggy went wee wee wee (as she tickles my tummy) all the way home.
A playwright in the making.

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