Monday, February 28, 2011

Dancing Beauties

When you house alot of females, there tends to be alot of talk about dancing. At least here, anyway.

Last Saturday night Mike accompanied two of our young gals to the Daddy/Daughter Dance at the school. It was put on by our Partners for Children group. The theme this year was Mardi Gras, and each girl received a feather mask and colorful beads. They also had their photo taken with daddy, and I am excited to see how that turns out! Daddy still has sore leg muscles today from all the hopping, jumping and dancing around the gym. The girls didn't complain at all!

The planning for this event has gone on for weeks, here at home and at the school. My girls do not get alot of new clothes, so a new dress was a huge part of the excitement for them. My niece, Tona (her daughter was attending too) and I searched for the perfect dresses, and found little princess dresses for all our tiny girls. My girls had to look at their dresses for 2 weeks before wearing them, and carefully hung them after the dance so they can be princesses again for Easter Sunday.

Another fun dance is at their ballet classes. Miss Jenny has been involved in teaching ballet since my Nicole was young, and it's been fun seeing the next ones have the instruction she provides for early dancers. They take 6 week classes and enjoy the fun of tutus, ballet shoes and sweet recitals. I have so many pictures from all the classes, and the best part of them all is the smiles on their faces as they prance around and show us what they have learned in their classes. Is there anything prettier than a ballerina?

Sometimes Tommy feels pretty left out. He really wants to take a gymnastics class at the local YMCA. We will look into that when the girls dance classes finish. I think he will enjoy it, and there are many times he's left out with all the others his age being girls!!

So, tonight is their 5th week of dance class, and then we'll get to enjoy their recital in 2 more weeks. The girls don't look ahead to what's coming. They are just enjoying living in the moment, just like a child should be.

Dance, little princesses, dance!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am Moving!

I am moving!

In our marriage of almost 31 years, we have lived in 14 different homes. Most were rentals between Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan. We have bought 4 homes, each time selling to move up in space or to better accomodate our growing family. Currently we live in the farmhouse my grandparents built from the rugged ground up in a sparse neighborhood in the 1940's.

We have painted, scraped, remodeled, added on, and thoroughly lived in every space of this house. We switch rooms around about every 6 months, rearranging the way we utilize every inch of the place.

Now it's my turn.

I have been blessed to be married to a guy who has always supported my craftiness. I enjoy painting, sewing, cross stitch, decoupage, stamping and scrapbooking. I actually have the biggest room of the house for my hobbies, and I do share the space
by storing kids craft items too.

But now I am moving. I am moving into a much smaller space. I will have to downsize or reorganize alot of my stuff to fit into this new space. I may have to part with things I have had for years.

And I am thrilled!!

You see, by moving from my old "office" to my new (and much smaller) office, I am making the first huge step into physically preparing for our newest addition!

We are currently waiting for a foreign government to issue a visa for a special needs child. He is just over 2 years old, and we have been waiting for him since November. We are hoping the government that holds the keys to his future will make the decision really soon to issue a visa that will allow me to go get him and bring him home into our family.

By moving my office to the smaller room, the newest addition to the family will be on the ground floor with all the children, and as he learns to walk, he will not be hampered by stairways. He will have the noise of the house as he learns about us, and yet he will have the back room that will allow him some peace when he needs it.

We have chosen the material for his curtains, and we have discussed the paint colors and are ready to make a decision. He has a giraffe print rug and a toy box already full. We have stacking blocks, shape toys and plenty of soft stuffed animals to cuddle. I have made blankets, and have clothes from 6 mo to 18 months, separated in containers for easy access. We have toys to help him learn and grow, and plenty of folks ready to love and encourage that growth. We have contacts for his medical needs, and are ready to start the therapies that will help him gain strength. We are waiting. We are ready.

With every stroke of the brush as I painted my "new" office today, I kept thinking of this child that we have already fallen in love with. Will he love us? How long will he be afraid of all the "firsts" he will have to go through here? How long will it take him to attach to us, while detaching from his current caregivers? Is the emotional and physical neglect he has suffered already in his little life going to hamper his future growth and development? Can he sense that he is loved clear across the world by this family, and can we ever show him just how much he was wanted and treasured all these many months of waiting for him to come home?

I am so glad to be moving. With every box and shelf I carry to it's new home, I think of him. I picture exactly how his new room will look, and I can not wait to be done with the move and start putting his things in place. It will be warm, and comforting, and full of life.

And soon we will welcome him home. But it's not soon enough for me!

"Are you scared?"

Anyone that knows my Tara knows how much she hates to be in any confining situation! We started parenting her at 17 months old, and have been thrilled to see how much this Reactive Attachment Disorder, Intermittent Rage Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder kid has grown, and thrived!

For the most part, she is a beautiful blue-eyed blond, tiny features and sparkling spirit! But we know, underneath it all, she still hates to be confined. Getting seat belts on her and keeping them on has always been challenging, and there were many years that even a hug would send her reeling. Now, happily, she seeks out hugs and affection. What a change and what a blessing!

This weekend we were able to go spend some time at an indoor water park about 45 minutes from our home. We planned a day to swim, a night at a hotel (with more swimming!) and the next day of waterpark fun again. What we didn't plan was the fever that hit 3 of the kids on the morning of the second day, forcing us to come home (plenty of tears too!) with a promise of returning to finish our second day soon.

We also didn't plan on the freezing rain that came overnight, and the extreme cold that set in (again!) It made our drive home somewhat treacherous. But we made it home. Gramma wasn't able to join us because of the weather, but we plan to see her again soon.

We also didn't plan the malfunction that could have ruined our entire weekend.

It started with Tyler knocking on the bathroom door, from inside. I was the only one in the room at the time, as the rest of the crew was getting in an evening swim at the hotel pool. No one but us were at the hotel, so it was like having this huge mansion to ourselves! Nice! Tyler had come back from the hotel weight room, and wanted to change into his suit to finish the night with a swim. I heard the knock, and wondered why he couldn't' get out of the bathroom. It seemed the lock had stuck, so I grabbed the only tool I could find, a plastic coffee stirring stick.

I poked it into the little hole in the knob about 3 times, finally triggering the lock that was stuck. It opened and Tyler went to swim.

About 9 that night, the rest of the kids came up from the pool, taking turns changing into warm jammies, and ready to settle in for the night. Tara was in the bathroom tub, so I was shocked when Mere tried to get in to change our of her suit and the door was locked. I asked Tara to unlock it.

"I didn't lock it mom. She can come in."

Right. The knob turned, but would not release the lock. Major malfunction. I tried every coffee stirrer I could find in the room, and nothing worked. Tyler insisted a credit card would work. Nope.

We assured Tara several times that we were working on getting the door open. I figured one of us would snap the lock at any time and free her.

Nope. Mike called the manager, who came up with her "key", assuming Tara had locked herself in the bathroom. That sounded like something the manager had dealt with before! After 10 minutes of her trying, she decided it was out of her league, so she called the day manager in. Apparently, the day manager knew something about locks, and wanted to try her own hand at it.

By 9;30, Tara was still stuck in the bathtub. We were keeping her calm by promising a trip to the candy machine and she assured us she was fine. As long as she could hear someone, she sounded calm. At one point, Nelly slid a piece of paper under the door that said "Are you scared? Circle YES or NO" The paper came back, with the NO circled. I thought it was funny that she sent a note under the door, because we had been talking to her the entire time!

By 9:45, both managers had been fiddling with the lock, unsuccessful at removing the handle like they figured they could do at one time. Finally, one of the girls twisted the handle, while the other one slammed her body into the door. Woosh!! It flung open!

There was Tara, crouched under the large sink and counter, shreds of toilet paper all over the entire floor! But she was calm!

We praised her over and over for how she handled it. I know, from the paper she had shredded, she was feeling the tension, but she handled it really well. And of course, before the manager left, Tara was out in the hallway headed to the vending machine and her promised treat!

I am glad that Tara came through the situation so well. I am thankful that the managers took good care to ducktape the lock shaft so it would not happen again.

What surprised me though, was that they never offered more than an "I'm sorry about that." We paid $130 for the night to rest and relax, but for more than an hour we had strangers in our room, and a bit of fear to boot! I thought maybe taking something off the bill would have been nice....

But I am glad it all ended well! And breakfast in the morning was really great. All in all, a successful mini-vacation!

Plus, Tara had an exciting story to tell her friends at school on Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bella and Boo

The movie, "Monsters, Inc." is one of my all time favorites. The older kids have seen it numerous times, but this past weekend was Bella's viewing of this fabulous kids movie.

At first, Bella (4) didn't want to see it. The title scared her a bit. But we told her if she kept watching it, she would see a happy ending. Who doesn't love a happy ending, huh?

As the monsters of the movie scare all the screams out of their tiny subjects by sneaking into their closets at night, Bella really got into the movie. Then the baby Boo enters the scene, and Bella is completely hooked.

During a couple intense spots where the monsters are trying to out-scare each other, Bella huddled in a bit closer. But overall, she seemed to be enjoy the show.

Until the end. As Baby Boo is returned to her own closet, and has to say goodbye to Sulley and Mike Wazowski, the tears were flowing. For Boo, and Bella. The credits roll, and Bella is still sobbing.

I had to stop the older kids from poking fun at her. I want her to know it's OK to cry when something touches your heart, just like it's perfectly fine to laugh when something tickles your funny bone!

It was the first time I had really seen her tiny heart get sad at a movie.

But, the next morning, Bella was asking to watch it again. I said she could, and was waiting for more tears at the end. Instead, she turned to me, completely sad (but no tears) and said, "Poor Boo. She was left in that closet. Why doesn't she have a mommy and daddy?"

So, that was the part that saddened her. It wasn't having to say good bye to her new friend. It was not that she was scared. She felt empathy for little Boo that she was alone with no parents to care for her.

I know it's typical for her age to start really understanding a movie. And cry when it hits the Hallmark moment. But I am glad, at least for Bella, that her emotions were unleashed for the baby, whom she thought, was all alone.

She's so much like me, it's uncanny.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hole in the Wall

There is a show on TV that my kids are really into right now. It's called "Hole in the Wall".

The idea is that a large moving wall comes toward a group of people who form their bodies into the shapes that are cut out of the wall, in hopes of sliding through it without getting knocked into the pool of water behind them. It makes for some fun viewing when the participants are contorting their entire bodies to fit through the holes, while those of us in viewing land are laughing at their wriggling bodies trying to fit through the impending shapes without getting forced into the water.

The point of the show, really, is not so much skill, as it is luck. Sometimes the participants win, sometimes they lose. The losers get doused with water. The winners go to the next round and try again.

There are probably prizes somewhere in there, even consolation prizes for the losers. I never watch the entire show, but the kids love it.

I have a different take on it. I see the participants, who are giddy with excitement, standing close, studying the wall, ready to make their moves. They are in some sort of strange looking wet suits, prepared to fall into the water, but eager to prove that their team will be the ones who can make it through the wall.
They usually get pushed into the water, but drag themselves out, smiling, even cheering on the opposing teammates.

I see myself at the Hole in the Wall in our adoption process. I can contort everything in my life to fit through every shape pushed at me. I can wriggle my way toward every little change being force on me, but ultimately, I feel like no matter what I do, I miss the mark and get pushed into the water directly behind me. I am not drowning, but when I come up out of the swirling mess behind me, I am not cheering at all. I am tired, I don't see any of my team mates and I feel exposed to the world in my wet suit. I am drenched, tired of missing the objective, and still, no closer to the "prize."

Weird, huh? I have had a rough weekend with my thoughts. Those of you who are also on this international adoption path can relate. It's brutal to fill out paperwork after paperwork, just to be told there is still more to do. We know there is a child/or children out there who long to be held in the arms of their forever families, but we fail to reach them. Empty eyes look out at us from agency photographs, and we long to comfort our children, but we are not quite making it through all the holes in the wall. No matter what we do, or how fervent we are at the task ahead, we are not there yet. There are more hoops to jump, more hills to climb, and we fear we will be too late. Will the ever-rampant Malaria of their hometowns kill our weakened babes, or will our prayers for their strength be enough to keep them alive until we get there? Will their medical needs to serious enough for their government to prepare the paperwork that will release them into our arms, but not be so serious that we can not get them what they need before we lose them?

We have fought paperwork for over two years now. We had a couple setbacks where we tried to follow our hearts and go where we thought we should go. This weekend, I am tired. I feel like I am swimming against the tide. Who is for us?

I am reminded that GOD has not changed. HIS plan will come to pass, and we are determined to stay the course.

But it's growing extremely hard. I am worn from trying to fit through each "hole" in the wall of this process, and I am embarrassed to stand exposed to the world. My heart is aching for the child who waits. Pray with me that we will not be knocked down so far that we can not get back up and that we can continue to stay in the "game." We are not losing sight of our gift, but we are growing weary of the path that will take us there.

Sooner, than later, we pray.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Can you say, "Jet Lag?"

I had a wonderful trip to Eugene, OR for my daughters Art Show. After a delay getting out of town, and running from one end of the O'Hare airport to catch my flight to Portland (which was-thankfully-delayed also), I settled in to sleep on my
nearly 4 hour flight. The flight out was uneventful, and I got to Portland right on time. Unfortunately, my luggage did not.

Jenni found me at the airport right on time, aided by a sign she had created that said "MOM". We had a great laugh, and set up a claim for my lost luggage. It seems it had not even left South Bend yet!

Portland is 2 hours from Eugene, so we had a wonderful time to chat during the drive. I wasn't able to see the area because of the midnight skies, but that would come later. We stopped at a local Walmart so I could buy an outfit for the following day, since that was the only store open at 1:30 in the morning! I bought the necessities and left the store $60 lighter... We made it to Jenni's apartment by 3 am, and stayed up til 6:30 getting the rest of the prints bagged for her show. She knew we were looking for a long day ahead, and had to be in Newberg, Or by 10. We slept for 1 1/2 hours, and got up to hit the road. We also had the worst coffee in the world from a gas station, but the diet coke did the trick for me. We were able to get her art work hung and ready for the show, then had a nice lunch at a local bar. Meeting Jenni's friends was definately a highlight for me, and I met alot! I enjoyed them all. It will be nice to have the faces to go with the names when she talks about her friends now.

The show was a beautiful success. Not only did she get to see some of her artwork go out the door with her sales of prints, she was treated wonderful by the salon staff. Their were fingerfoods, wine, and a local band. We left about 9 pm, with a
1 1/2 hour drive back to Jenni's apartment. I am not sure how we stayed awake for the drive home. Whew....I was trashed!! I fell asleep on their comfy couch, with the comments of strangers running through my mind about my daughters Art. What a great experience for a proud mama to hear others praise her daughters' creativity. I have all those beautiful comments stored in my heart. I knew all along she was wonderful, and now there is alot of others who think so too!

The rest of our time was a blur of activity. I crocheted Jenni a pair of slippers while I was there, and during the Superbowl I was able to finish 3 hats for the preemies at the hospital. I also made a pretty white hat for the bartenders newborn niece. Jenni told her I love to do things for others when the dear lady wondered what she owed me. She has me pegged!!

We were able to spend the day I had to flyout in Portland. We walked through China town, and I was able to bring home a newspaper that impressed the kids with all the chinese writing. That was the coldest day there, and I was glad for the long sweater that I was able to wrap around me as we walked. Once the sun came out, we were much warmer! We also found a great little antique store in town, and a few vintage furniture stores. What a great time!

One of the things I realized being there is how much Jen and Ash are alike. As adults, its neat to see their mannerisms and expressions are so similar. Even though they live far apart, I can really see their sisterisms! I also realized in all the years Jenni has been gone from the house, this is the first time we really had so much "US" time. We went to a Casino, walked the Hobbit Trail, and roamed the coast looking (and finding) sand dollars! So many precious memories!

So, I came home to sick kids, (someone had been sick for Mike the whole time I was gone!) and severe jet lag. That 3 hour time difference took me all week to shake off!

Back to normal now, loving life, and grateful for the opportunity to be with Jenni at a turning point in her life. I know she will see success in whatever she does. And I can't wait to go back next summer!

Next up: Jersey in March to see those grandkids!