Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tara turns 7

We celebrated Tara's 7th birthday last night at Chuck-E-Cheese pizza place. We ordered 4 large pizzas, 14 cokes and 5 large salads. We went through more than 200 tokens and got enough little prizes to keep the kids happy all the way home. Tara blew out seven striped candles, and just as I shut off the video camera, she called out to her siblings, "Who wants to suck a candle???" It seems that the best part of any birthday cake is the tiny bit of frosting on the end of each candle. : )

It was her glamorous birthday year. She got nail polish, perfume, fancy hair clips and lip glosses. She was so impressed with the cotton candy scented body spray that she ran across the restaurant after opening it to show her older sister. It was all about glam this year. Although a couple of stuffed puppies in the mix didn't disappoint her at all!!

I learned something this year. Mere turned five right after christmas, so her birthday was a simple affair of going to the "Stuff a Dog" store at the mall, dumping nearly $70 on "I just have to have this" items, ate lunch out at the mall, and even had our picture taken together at a pricey kiosk there. The picture, other than being adorable because Mere is in it, is dark, poor quality and not worth the paper it was printed on really. But the idea thrilled Mere, and it was her day. I thought because Mere had not enjoyed all the gift wrap on Christmas day, her birthday two days later was just going to be miserable if she had to open any other gift. Wrong. I should have known. At the end of her day, I said, "Mere, have you had a good birthday this year?" She innocently looked up at me from her bed, and replied, "Not really." So much for the plan I had. Maybe a few wrapped gifts would have been ok after all.

Tara's last thoughts last night were more like it. "It's been a great birthday, mom." But then again, when she got up, realizing today was her "real" birthday, she wondered when the party was going to start today. All day we heard, "It's my birthday today. I get to go first/read that book/do what I want," etc. She carried around the plastic bag of hair ties and beauty products all day today. The day is almost over, and tomorrow we go back to just a regular day. Whatever that means...

Birthdays for kids are so fun. We will celebrate Bella's next. She'll be 2 and her most exciting part will be the cake, I am sure. But then again, maybe it will be opening the presents. Or maybe she will like the candles and the singing. Either way, for Bella, it will not be another regular day. And for the rest of us, it's another reminder of just how quickly the time flies.

Officially attached

Yesterday was a monumental day in our lives.

After much consideration and prayer, we sent the official application to the agency who will be handling our Ethiopian adoption. It's intimidating, exciting, stretching us in our faith.

This was not a quick decision. We had been pondering it for a long time, and since we are not new to adoption, we know it will have many challenges. The seven kids we have added to our family since 2001 have enriched our lives in so many ways (even in the tough days and weeks!!)and we look forward to what the year ahead will bring. We have no idea who God will add to our family. But when I was pregnant with my first three children, the feeling was the same. There are decisions ahead, and we are praying for wisdom at each step of the way.

I have had several people tell me we don't need any more children. After all, we have 10 all together!! But I have considered that statement so many times over the last few months and realize it's not about us having more kids at all. What our endeavor is all about is that we have been touched by the plight of scores of real orphans - children in war torn, poverty stricken lands who are alone and frightened. Children who need the security of food, shelter and love, even if it means being transported to another country, worlds away from all they know, to get them.

I am tired most days from caring for an active houseful of children. I need time away somedays, craving peace from the active world of schedules, little voices and meeting multiple needs 24/7. I tell Mike that he "gets to go to work." He doesn't really get that most of the time. But my heart cries for the little one out there that could thrive with us in our crazy world called life. It's not perfect here, and Norman Rockwell would have a hard time painting our life story. But there is a child in Ethiopia who needs parents, a family, a place to heal from their pain. Somewhere he can find food when he's hungry, sleep when he's tired, and education as he grows. Someday maybe the child we bring to our home will have the confidence to return to Ethiopia and make a difference for other children that we can not reach on our own.

It's a big responsibility, one that we are preparing for daily. We know it won't be easy. Raising children never is. But we are grateful for the opportunity and trust we will be faithful to the calling. Our hearts are open to the child that God wants to put there.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dark Brown Hair

There are no grey hairs on my head today. It's not that I swallowed the ever-sought after pill for continued youthfulness, I died my hair again. My oldest daughter thought going so dark would not look the best with my skin tones, but I like it. I have joked that I resemble Morticia Adams from the Adams Family show of my youth, but that's not true. My hair is short, where hers was long. And I tend to smile more than she did. Not to mention she was a great deal taller than I will ever be.

What is it about aging that we all want to stop? I want to be a lady who grows old gracefully. Some one with poise and dignity, a gal who others look at and say, "Now that's one classy woman!" So when does that all begin?

I still feel young inside. When a young friend tells me she is unexpectedly expecting her first child, I feel giddy for her. Oh, the excitement that the first pregnancy brings. I wish it were me. I am so glad for her, but I can't believe inside myself that I will never have another child.

When my daughter put the money down for her first house, I could feel the whole excitement of our first home well up inside of me, and I was as excited as she was on the day of closing to get into that house and begin a whole new phase of living.

One of the sweetest words I hear is "gramma." When my grandson, Kaiden, calls me grandma, I would do any thing for him. I would love to have 20 grandkids, or more.

So, what is growning old gracefully? This balance between being a mother, daughter, grandma, friend - am I gracefully handling all the rolls I have been blessed with?

I don't fear growing old. I want to look my best, be my best, and do my best in all the hats I wear. And since my grey's are covered by my new dark brown hair color, I can wave my hat in the air, and love who I am today.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I sit here contemplating growing old. Some days my body screams, “STOP!!” and I am finally learning to do just that. It is hard to stop. After just coming off the holidays, and still having our grandsons here, I just don’t want to miss a thing. But last night, my legs were screaming at me to get some much needed rest, so I turned the lights off, and fitfully drifted into the comfort of my warm waterbed. I dreamed of the days ahead, trying to figure out just what is around the bend for us.
In just a short time we are loading the little ones in the van, and heading to Chicago to drop our daughter Jenni and her husband Jeremy off at the airport. As much fun as it always is to welcome the kids home, today is the painful part. I have never liked having the kids so far away from home (and Oregon is VERY far from Michigan) and saying goodbye after a visit is horrible. I am always grateful for our time together, but it never seems to be enough. I miss the day to day happenings in their lives, and the fact that they get over colds and the flu before I even know they had them. I know they are responsible adults now, but inside my heart is still the desire to snuggle them up and keep them close. To make sure they take their vitamins, dress warm and stay away from all the bad things the world wants to envelope them in. The consolation is that the grandsons are still here for a couple more weeks, so I won’t have to see them all leave at one time. Our oldest daughter, Ashleigh, is planning a wedding in August. We know that Jenni and Scott will do their best to return then to be with us for the wedding, but August seems a long time away.
I know as the holidays come to a close (or a screeching halt even!!) there is much to be thankful for. We are a family blessed beyond measure. We all appreciate relatively good health, and we have had wonderful times together that pile up to be warm memories to sustain us through the rest of this cold winter. Mike and I are considering what our role is to be in the broad scheme of the international adoption world, and we are excited (if not with some trepidation) about what this new year has in store for us all.
So as I sit here thinking of saying goodbye to my second daughter, thinking of aches and pains and growing old, and watching the little ones pack a small sack of toys to keep them busy on the way to the airport, I can say life is still good. And I know that the ONE who sustains me through the rest of my days loves me and my brood more than I can ever understand. And there is no greater comfort and rest than that.