Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goodbye 2011! Hello 2012!

2011 brought us a lot of ups and downs, triumphs and trials, laughter and tears.

As our family ends the year on a high note (our home in Oregon finally closed!!!), I am taking this time to wish you all a very happy New Year, and a 2012 full of love, happiness, and peace.

Top 10 Pros of Adopting Older Children

Sometimes something will happen in the course of our normal day together that will immediately cause Chris and I to look at each other and simultaneously blurt out 'pro!'.

When we do this, it can be during a meal at a restaurant when our kids are sitting properly and engaging and one table over is a family of spider monkeys hopped up on mountain dew. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging, I'm thankful. It's at that very moment when I think to myself 'thankful!'.

Or when we're traveling and our kids are keeping up while we expertly navigate the airport with our perfectly packed roller bags and get caught behind a family with two toddlers with a double stroller and all the accoutrements.

So with that background in mind, I (TIC) bring you the Top 10 Pros of Adopting Older Children. Here we go:

10: There is no need to wonder if you've packed enough diapers/wipes/snacks for the 3 minute drive to Target.

9: When trying to determine where to go for dinner, the restaurant that rhymes with 'Yucky Sneezes' never, ever gets a mention.

8: A trip to the zoo does not take 4 hours of prep work, three bottles, 6 bags of snacks, and a stroller.

7: Daycare costs are minimal if at all.

6: Guess who cleans their own room?

5: Four words: sleeping through the night.

4: The willingness to let mommy sleep in sometimes while they read or play quietly in their room.

3: Although not always properly, they always dress themselves.

2: I never fear turning my back and suddenly finding a ten pound bag of flour spread hither and yon across my living room.

And the number 1 pro of adopting older children? The absolute joy we all have in knowing we're a forever family.

Ok so that last one could be for all adoptive families.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From my family to you and yours. Enjoy your day and may 2012 bring you the joys and blessings you so richly desire and deserve.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm Late. Shocker.

I'm late on this post.  Late, late, late.

You see, my kids came home on December 19th, 2010.  So one year and three days ago, our family expanded by two.

And here we are, one year (and three days) later.

We've moved to another state.  We've been on a family vacation.  We've been through ups, downs, and in-betweens.

I've watched two children who wanted nothing more in this world than to have the security and love of a forever family grow, thrive and spread their wings.  I've learned just as much from them as I am hoping that they are learning from us.  I've seen miracles in bonding, trust, and confidence.

I've watched a little girl who had so much pressure to take care of her little brother, let go, and let us handle it.  She still struggles with being a bossy one, but gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) reminders help us through that.  I've watched her learn to trust us.  I've watched her watch me, to see how I do things.  And I'm seeing some of the habits I want her to have come shining through.  She has a great sense of responsibility - both for herself and for her actions.  She's an incredible artist, a voracious reader, and a great friend.

I've watched a little boy who was so unsure, who needed a father SO much, become so enamored by his daddy.  I've seen him try so hard to be just like daddy.  He's got a wicked sense of humor, his laugh is infectious, and his empathy is endless.  He loves lego's and Angry Birds, soccer and Taekwondo, and jumping on dad and his big brother.

I've watched a big brother so easily step into a role he was made for.  Such an accepting and nonchalant attitude about these two new siblings.  I've seen him guide, and cajole, and tease, as any siblings will do.

I'm so proud of all of my kids.  I'm so complete with my family.  And I'm so blessed by God.

My kids were recently asked to be in a video for our adoption agency highlighting the need for families for older and special needs children.  The final video came out yesterday.  I tear up every time I watch it, so I am giving you a Kleenex warning NOW.

Enjoy.  And have a very blessed Christmas!!

Be The Difference from Videos for AGCI on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've Been Stalking

Our adoption agency, All God's Children International, put out a call on Facebook a few months ago to share your blog with others who had gone through or are going through adoption.  I threw my blog address in there and promptly forgot about it with all the hecticness (is that a word?  It's red underlined, so I'm going to say no) of us getting the house ready for sale, Chris commuting, and the move.

I routinely peruse any new followers I have, and link back to their blogs to read them and see what they are about.  I love reading other adoptive mom's writing.  I love immersing myself in their feelings and thoughts while they are going through what we are going through.  I love getting those moments where I realize I am nodding my head and agreeing with everything they are saying.  I want to reach out to them, tell them that the other side is so close, and that when they are standing where I am standing, it will all be SO incredibly worth it.

And then I feel like a stalker.  Thoughts race through my head, letting in self-doubt, and insecurity.  What if they think I am crazy?  What if they don't like me?  It's my junior high insecure self popping up and whispering in my ear and I need to give her a stern look and tell her to take stock of everything that's happened.  I want to tell her to look at my beautiful children: one by birth and two by adoption, and let her decide if my insecurity has a place in this world.  Let her decide if my passion for domestic adoption - especially of older children in the foster care system - is insecurity.  And I am not surprised when she sits down and shuts the hell up.

I'm a 'tell it like it is' girl.  Sometimes it's gotten me in trouble; other times, it's lost me friends.  More often than not, I've been told it's refreshing because my friends always know where they stand with me. In the grand scheme of things, I won't change who I am.  I would rather slap you with honesty than kiss you with a lie.  I believe a large part of who I am comes from having to be honest.  Honest with myself, and honest with others.  And I won't change that now.  And I won't apologize for it.

And here I stand, one year and four days after learning that I would, indeed, be a mother again.  On November 23rd of 2010, we received a phone call that changed our world forever.  I couldn't have been more happy for that phone call and yet honestly, at the time it scared the crap out of me.

On the other side, looking back, I can smile at how far we've come.  And I just want to reach out and share that with everyone who's blogs I am now stalking who are going through the same process.

Is that weird?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time keeps on slippin.....

I can't believe it's November 23rd already!

I also can't believe how busy I am being a temporary SAHM.  I told my husband the other day that I needed to get a job, because I'm way busier now than I was when I went to work every day, which to me is unexplainable.  He laughed.  I think secretly he would like me to stay home.  The house is clean, laundry is done, errands are run, kids are taken care of, and dinner is on the table most nights when he gets home.  (Sometimes he pushes me out of the kitchen, because he likes to cook as well).

This morning after I took the kids to school, I ran to Starbucks for a Caramel Brulee latte (YUM) and then off to the grocery store.  What. A. Nightmare.  I'm just thankful that I was able to get out of there in under an hour.  Came home, straightened up the house, did a few chores, got laundry done, made a few phone calls, and sat down for a minute and remembered I hadn't posted here in quite some time.

Things are going very well for us here in Northern California.  We all love it: the weather is mild, the people are genuine, and the community we live in is amazing.

Wyatt is settling in with his Tae Kwon Do classes.  Master Herb Perez, who owns the gym he attends, is the only American to ever bring home a gold medal in TKD from the Olympics!  He's a Gold Medal Olympian.  It's very inspiring.  He's also a no-nonsense guy who commands - and receives - respect from his students.  The other teachers are also very good.  It's a fun environment, and I like the philosophy that they have of partnering with parents to help teach life skills.

Jordan is registered for Spring softball and can't wait!  She's made a couple of close friends, and they are good girls from good families.  She's enjoying school; her teacher is amazing.

Today my kids are being filmed to be featured in a video for our adoption agency.  The video will focus on the need for families that are willing to adopt older children.  So many stigmas exist that older children are a 'lost cause', when in fact they want what any child wants: a good, nurturing, loving home. Our children have acclimated wonderfully, and I like to think that it is because they have an amazing support system.  They have grandparents that love them to pieces, aunts and uncles and cousins who all made them feel so welcome when we took them to Alton to introduce them.  They have an older brother who thinks that they are awesome.  And they have parents who love them fiercely, and who keep them in line.

This is not to say that every day in our house is puppies and rainbows.  Oh no.  Sometimes I joke that I wouldn't trade them for the world, but would sell them for a dollar.  There are trials, and there are moments.  At the end of the day, however, I look at those faces, and I know that they love us as much as we love them.  I hear it in their prayers to God, I see it in their responses to us, and I feel it in the death-grip hugs and face-smooshing kisses that we receive.

Last night Wyatt said grace, and his prayer to God was 'thank you for my family, I love my family'.

Melt my heart why don't ya??  Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Outdoor Ed

Today my baby girl left for Outdoor Ed along with 90 or so of her classmates!  She is headed to the mountains for four days of learning about the environment, ecosystems, organisms, and the way life around her works.  It's a great program, and I'm so excited for her, I can't wait to hear all about her experience.

Fall has made it's way to Northern California.  The temps have been milder, chilly at night.  The leaves are a beautiful red and yellow shade.  People are bundled up more.  The sun still shines most of the time, however, and that makes it quite bearable.  Even when it rained the other day, it was still a beautiful day.

I'm learning my way around the peninsula.  I've ventured further and further out, but there have been several days when I don't leave.  There's no reason to!  Foster City has the nickname of 'Wisteria Lane' for a reason.  Everything is close, convenient, and safe.  The longer I'm here, the more I like it!

Thanksgiving is approaching and I am so excited!!  We're going to have a full house, and I can't wait!

The kids and I are going to make a countdown chain for our trip to Cabo in...33 days!  We're all so excited and if there's anything we need, it's a vacation!!  We're really excited to see some friends that are joining us as well.  It should be a fantastic time.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes

Last Tuesday, we were watching some able-bodied men load all of our earthly possessions onto a moving trailer.  Attached to a very large truck that was driven by a super nice guy named Dennis.  Last Friday, he arrived in Foster City, CA to deliver our earthly possessions.  We lost track of a TV for a minute, but we found it.  Thank goodness.

The weather is beautiful, the neighborhood is friendly, and the schools are fantastic.  I'm so very impressed with the caliber of the school the kids are in here compared to what they were forced to attend in Oregon.  I see homework every day for my second grader.  I was lucky to pry out of him what he learned in Oregon.  I see vocabulary words from my 5th grader.  That didn't happen in Oregon.  They have PE three days a week!  Hello?!!  I see the reason our school has an over 900 API score.

I've unpacked, managed to get a few things accomplished, and casually started looking for a job.  I'm not in a huge hurry, but if something comes along that I can't pass up, I am for sure going to jump on it.

And that's my update for now!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winding Down

We got the kid's birth certificates in the mail and promptly headed off to City Hall to apply for their passports.  They've cashed my check, so hopefully that means the passports are on their way!

In other news - we've decided on a date to move - October 18th!  My last day of work will be October 14th.  We've recruited and hired someone to replace me and she starts tomorrow.  We leave Thursday for the annual family reunion in Illinois and we're all very excited to introduce the kids to the rest of the family!  We'll be back late Monday.

We're having a small going away gathering on the 14th, Wyatt's 8th birthday party on the 15th, the packers come on the 17th and they load on the 18th.  Once that last box/piece is loaded, we're on the road!  We've found a fantastic townhome on the lake in Foster City to rent, and the school system is top-rated.  The kids are excited to be finally all together with daddy again.

As is standard with a Type A personality, I have checklists and timelines of things that need to be done before we leave.  I sometimes wish I could just hire someone to handle all of this; it seems so daunting at times.  But it will get done, no matter what.

Almost home!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birth Certificates!!

Our birth certificates are finally on their way!!  Our attorney emailed me a scanned copy and I'll be honest - they are the most beautiful pieces of paper I've seen since August 12th.  ;-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh California. I have missed you.

The Mister and I used to live in San Diego.  For 18 glorious months, we basked in the SoCal coast, breathing in the salty crisp morning air, feeling the spray on our faces, laying on the beach getting sand in our..wha?  Not really, but sometimes.

Anytime we tell people where we've lived, their eyes just get wider and wider.  To recap - Phoenix to San Diego, to Hartford CT, to Phoenix, to Portland and on our way (albeit not soon enough) to San Francisco.  Being that the Mister is in the airline industry, we aren't long for staying in one spot.  Although, who knows how this will end up?  HQ is in Burlingame, and that may very well be his next step.

So we've set our sights on October 18th as our move day.  It's quite a relief to have a solid date.  I've given notice at work, signed a separation agreement, and started the process of cleaning out and cleaning up.  Yesterday I dropped off a large haul at Goodwill.  This week sometime I'm hoping to make a large trash run.  I want to get some things photographed and on Craigslist, clean out our chest freezer (we aren't taking that with us - it's going to have a new home with some friends of ours), and do another cleanout of the kid's wardrobes. 

While I do that here, the Mister is busy running all over the peninsula and east bay looking at housing.  It works like this: I scour craigslist, send him links, and he either calls and makes an appointment or does a drive-by.  Today he had two to go look at.  The first was a solid "NO".  I'm hoping the second won't be. 

Today also marks what is promised as a cool-down for the PNW.  It's been ridiculously hot and humid over the last couple of weeks and quite honestly, I'm over it.  As a general rule, the PNW doesn't normally get this hot for this long of a spell, so most homes do not have A/C, ours included.  It's been a lot of eating out and finding things to do outside the house and in someone else's A/C (movies, the mall, etc.).  That's not really great for the budget, so that will come to a grinding halt today.  Thank the Lord.

Wednesday marks my one-month countdown to leaving my job of three years.  In all of the moving that the Mister and I have done over the past 7 years, this is the longest job I've held.  I'm a bit sad over leaving, and I know that this is simply because I'm comfortable.  I've told a few clients about my leaving and they've expressed sadness, but encouragement.  That was nice.  My boss wrote me a very impressive reference letter, and I've applied to a few jobs in SFO, but I'm not frantic.  My main goal is to get through the next month, get my family relocated and situated, and then work on gainful employment.

One thing I have noticed is my anxiety about the change this time is not as high as it usually is.  I usually have feelings of 'we can't leave!  This is stupid!  We're making a mistake!' a lot.  This time, it's been there, but not so much at the forefront.  I found a quote today, and I posted it on my Facebook, but I will requote it here:

When we make a change,
it's so easy to interpret our unsettledness as unhappiness,
and our unhappiness as a result of having made the wrong decision.
Our mental and emotional states fluctuate madly when we make big changes in our lives,
and somedays we could tightrope across Manhattan,
and other days we are too weary to brush our teeth.
This is normal, this is natural, this is change.
~Jeanette Winterson 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Back to School: Week 1

My kids went back to school this week.  There was much nervousing and gnashing of teeth, but overall, I would say it was successful.  Wyatt is learning sign language and Jordan is learning some espanol.  I'm pretty proud of both of them.

And also - daddy came home after 12 days of being gone.  I know, I have no right to whine when military families do it all the time.  12 days is nothing - and at least I got to talk to him every day.  But it was still painful.  I can't wait until this commute is OVER.  Soon, baby.  Soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do Not Be Fooled. The Paperwork Still Comes. And about our weekend.

Our Gotcha Day was almost two weeks ago and still, I deal with paperwork.  Granted, this is the good stuff - getting the kids new social security cards, getting the new birth certificates, and finally, getting passports!!  Have I mentioned that we've already booked our Mexico vacation in December?  A combination 40th birthday fiestabration for me and a celebration of our family completion. 

We took a short trip to San Francisco last weekend.  Drove to Seattle, flew on Virgin to San Francisco on Thursday.  Had dinner, took the kids swimming at the hotel, and then out!  Friday we did the touristy thing and took the BART to the Embarcadero.  Visited Pier 39 and ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.  Wandered through Fisherman's Wharf.  Took a cab to Ghirardelli Square (they don't give tours anymore!).  Then a trolley back to the BART and back to the hotel.  The kids went swimming, and then we decided to walk over to Kincaids for a fabulous dinner.

Saturday we grabbed some breakfast and headed out to scope out some houses.  Found a few that we liked up in Hayward Hills.  Beautiful sweeping Canyon Views.  Hopefully this house here sells SOONER rather than LATER.  I just want to get down and get settled.  At noon we went over to VX HQ and attended the company WOWBQ with Chris.  The kids had a great time and all of his coworkers were amazingly nice.  Later on, back to the hotel, took the kids swimming (are we seeing a pattern here?) and then early to bed. 

Sunday we had to get up early, eat some breakfast, and head to the airport.  Quick flight to Seattle.  Had to sell a kidney to pay for parking, and then on to Tacoma where I met a couple of girlfriends for lunch!  Yum!  We got home around 4, tired, HOT (it was 89 in the house, yipes!) and just wanting to chill. 

Yesterday it was back to the routine.  Two more weeks until school starts.  The kids didn't get back into the school they were in last year, so they have to go to our neighborhood school.  No biggie, and actually it works out better with my work schedule. 

Tonight - The Help with my BFF while her hubby watches The Heathens.  And for that, I thank him.  *wink*

Friday, August 12, 2011

Today was our GOTCHA day!

We woke up early this morning.  Got dressed, and headed down to Eugene.  16 months after we started this process, we found ourselves sitting in a courtroom, before a judge who took great delight in signing a piece of paper that would forever bind us with our kids, Jordan and Wyatt.  Their names were legally changed, and from this day forward, we are legally a family.

There is much celebration in this house today.  There is much rejoicing.  A long road, from decision to completion.

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone that has supported us on this journey.  And to my friends who are going through this journey now, I say to you - keep going.  When you are mired in paperwork, and home visits, and background checks, and sometimes disappointment, remember this:  it's not the journey, it's the destination.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived at ours.  And now we begin a new journey.  One of guidance, and discipline, teaching and encouragement, love and laughter.

Today, we are a complete family.

Friday, August 05, 2011

August 12, 2011. 11:00 a.m.

That's our date.  For court.  To finalize the adoption.  To grow our family by two.  To give two awesome wonderful children who we have been lucky enough to be chosen as parents to, our last name. 

It's all legality, because from the moment we saw those kids, they were ours. 

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.  ~ 1 Samuel 1:27

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Letter to my kids...

Dear W & J:

Today I took you to sleep away camp.  We packed your clothes, loaded up the truck, and away we went.  We stopped for gas, drinks and snacks, because we had an hour drive to make.  We sang songs and we were silly the whole way.

When we pulled into camp, you were both so excited!  We unloaded the car and headed to registration.  Along the way, every counselor welcomed you to camp.

After handing in the paperwork, and getting your cabin assignments, we were on our way.  J, we took you to your cabin first, and I helped you unpack your sleeping bag and pillow, and set up your bunk.  I met your counselor, and took a couple of photos.  You were so confident standing outside that cabin.  I was so proud of you.  I hugged you tight and told you how much fun you would have.  I reassured you that you would make TONS of friends, and that you were a great girl, so it wouldn't be hard.  I talked to your counselor about how happy I was that you had this opportunity.  You hugged your brother and I again, and we left you to get settled in.

After we left J, W and I made our way to his cabin.  He skipped down the trail, so excited about finding out where he was staying.  We came up to your cabin, W, and you picked out your bunk: top!  We unpacked your sleeping bag and pillow, and carefully placed your clothes on your shelves.  You went outside to make your bunk tag with your name on it.  I talked to your counselor about what a wonderful little boy you are, and I went outside to check on you and get a picture.  You hugged me tight, almost not wanting to let go.  I told you how much fun you would have, and how daddy and I would be there on Saturday to pick you up.  You hugged me even tighter.

I left quickly, trying hard not to cry at the fact that I was leaving my little ones for the first time.  I looked back down the trail at you, and your little head was down, working hard on your bunk tag.  I am so proud of you.

I drove home with moments of sadness, missing you both already.  I've had to fight back tears a couple of times today, missing you SO much, yet knowing you are making memories that will last a lifetime.

I love you both so very much, and I am so happy that you have this amazing opportunity.

Can I call out sick this week and join you?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please Review.

Those are the two words that my attorney put in his email this afternoon.  Please review.  He also said, and I quote:

"Have fun.  You have to mail the originals back to me, then I'll send them to Eugene & request a hearing date, OK?  I'll coordinate all the way through to getting your birth certificates, but you have to go get the social security information changed after that.  Heh."

Heh?  WTF?  Heh?  OH!  Cause he's talking about me having to deal with SS.  Heh.  

We are thisclose to being able to post pictures and introduce the world to our new littles.

As I was reviewing the paperwork, J came in crying about some tween angst.  She's fighting with her BFF.  *sigh*  I told her to go back out there and figure it out, that life was too short.  I got the eyeroll, which loosely translated means 'like you have ANY clue what the heck I'm going through right now, moooooooooom.'  Depending on the day, my name either has one or eleventy syllables.  Good times.

So the good news is that we are inching towards the finish line.  I feel like those people who race in a triathlon and are totally not prepared and have to literally crawl across the finish line because their legs are all 'right.  Not anymore' and their bodies are all 'kiss my ass with your 26.2 after the swim and the bike, jackass'.  It's THERE, that finish line, I can see it.  I just can't get my legs to cooperate.

In other news - my husband is coming home early this week!  Yay!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Your documents are in...

I'm not going to lie, I haven't been getting my hopes up on the fastidious movement of the State when it comes to our adoption finalizing.  It is what it is.  Social Workers are overwhelmed, they're over budget, they take furlough days. 

Today, however, I got an email from my attorney "I have your DHS documents in hand, and will be mailing them to you for signature!"

What the what?  Today is July 21.  You have our DHS docs?  Are you kidding me? 

Someone up above loves this family.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Secret Is Out

Now that we've informed everyone we need to about our Big! New! Adventure!, I can talk about it here.

In the immortal words of the late, great Notorious B.I.G., we're going (going) back (back) to Cali (Cali). (Please do not confuse this song with the one by LL Cool J.) 

Chris has been offered an amazing opportunity with another airline - and since that's his passion and complete expertise, after much thought, talk, and prayer, we jumped on it.

This is so completely unlike any other move we've done in the past.  Before, it was easy-breezy.  We set a date, put the house up for sale, and moved.  Now, we've got this little chapter in the 'Life Handbook' known as 'The Adoption is NOT Quite Final Yet'.  So there's that. 

Chris started his new job on the 11th, and will be commuting between San Francisco and Portland for a few months.  We've met with a real estate agent and we'll be putting the house on the market on Saturday.

**Side note: Anyone interested in a completely remodeled gorgeous split-level in a quiet, established neighborhood that will be a freaking STEAL? Call me.**

Our kids are very excited for the new adventure, and mostly because it's close to Disneyland.  But of course.  And the fact that they will now have flight benefits - they think that's cool as all get out.  Yeah, just wait until they get stuck at the Vegas airport because all of the hungover people missed their early flights and decided to roll.  Not that I've ever had that happen.  Twice.

So now I'm playing single mom five days a week, and running quite the tight ship.  Menu plans, chore charts and a couple of pretty cooperative kids makes for a relatively easy go of it.  Of course, they're 10 and 7, and of all the pros in THAT list, it's that they only mutiny every once in a great while.  Usually it's the Boy.

I'm proud of my husband - he's making sacrifices of time right now with his children to provide them with a better opportunity in the future.  And we both know that looking back on this when we are at Mile Marker 58, and living together daily again, we will see that this was a blip on the radar, a drop in the bucket, a molehill on a mountain.  And any other metaphorical nonsense you can insert here.

To assist with the transition of daddy being gone, I've been taking two days off a week and will do so through the end of the month.  The kids go to camp for a week the first of August, and then we're getting back to our routine.  I want this to be as painless as possible for them, and so far they're on board and handling it like we always do - as a team.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

6 Month Reports.

We had our 6 month visit on June 17th.  I just received our reports in my email - and they are also being sent to the kids' social worker. 

I've read through them, and the best line in both of them, is this one:

This author recommends immediate finalization of the adoption of J&W by Christopher and Christina.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hippo Birdie America!

Our nation celebrates its 235th year of freedom this weekend.  She keeps pretty good care of herself because she doesn't look a day over 200!

To celebrate, we commandeered two lovely campsites along the Oregon Coast and we are taking our very best friends and their kids with us to whoop it up!  We're all so excited we can barely get through this week!!

Today my husband and the husband of the other couple went to Washington to buy some celebratory items.  To commemorate our nation's independence.  And such as.

And also, there will be a negative tide on Saturday morning - which means CLAMS! 

Enjoy your weekend - and our freedom and independence.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bass Ackwards.

Captain Sassy Pants has a problem with wearing his clothes backwards.  It doesn't matter what it is, he will inevitably put something on backwards.  He doesn't care to look at the label.  It's too much work.

Tonight at the dinner table I look over and he has his basketball shorts on backwards.  I could only tell because I could see the pocket.  Unless that kid was trying to store things in the pocket of his tutkus, he had them on backwards.

I sighed, and said "W!  WHY do you have your shorts on backwards?  You're a wreck!"  He just smiles.  I explain for the eleventieth time how he needs to look for the tag.  "And where does the tag go?"  He smiles an says "In FRONT! No, wait.  In BACK!"  It's always 'No, wait.'  I say to him "Child.  You test me.  You exhaust me.  You are a wreck!"  He just grins and laughs.

So we're clearing the table and the kids are heading back outside to play some more (it's the last week of school and I am uber super relaxed about bedtime this week).

W tells dad "I fixed my shorts."

Dad tells W "Good job bud."

W tells dad "Yeah, I didn't want mom to go all 'Boom goes the dynamite' to me!"

HA!  That kid.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

It's All Coming Together...and I Can Hardly Stand It!

For the past week, we've been receiving mail almost every day from DHS (Department of Human Services) here in Oregon.  One day it's the kid's new medical cards (they are entitled to secondary insurance through the state - which is nice because it will back up our insurance).  The next it's another agreement we need to sign and send back.  Or some information.  Or something!  The good news is, it's all starting to flow.  We're in the home stretch.  Our adoption is coming down the straightaway - the white flag has been waved and we're putting pedal to the metal.

It's an amazing look back at what we've accomplished in these last 6 months.  We brought home two children who had been through SO much.  Who had been promised SO much in their short little lives.  They had been ripped from their parents - the only people they ever felt truly loved them, through no fault of their own, and bounced around from place to place.  They were summarily handed back to their bio-mom a few times, and when they were, she would pack them up and move them to another state, all with the intent of trying to hide them from the CPS in the previous state.  And inevitably, the cycle would start all over again.

I am thankful that Washington and Oregon work together, and did work together to bring these children out of the unfortunate situation that they were in, and find them a family that would take care of them and love them the way they deserve to be loved.

I am thankful that my tough little nut, my 10 year old daughter, has softened.  I am thankful that she has seen that we love her, fiercely, and that we will always be there to protect her and guide her.  I am thankful that she has finally opened up, little by little, and allowed us to hold her heart, if even for a moment.  I am thankful that she is honest, and accepts responsibility for her actions.  I am thankful that she sends me little emails each day to tell me how much she loves me.  I am thankful that she no longer feels the need to worry about or watch over her brother out of necessity, rather, she does it because she wants to.  I am thankful that she has let go - and that she is able to be a child right now, when it's most important.

I am thankful that my sassy pants boy, my 7 year old, has matured and become comfortable.  I am thankful that he doesn't keep his room clean with military precision anymore.  I am happy when I see clothes strewn about and toys not put away.  I am happy that I have to remind him to clean his room, and that he grunts about it.  I am thankful that he no longer looks to his sister to provide him with answers, or guidance.  I am thankful that he is blossoming on his own, and developing his own little sense of self.  I am thankful that he is so helpful, and that he enjoys teasing mama about her love of the Yankees, all the while clinging to his papa and cheering for the Cardinals. 

We have introduced them to sushi, late-night get togethers with great friends, independence, personal responsibility, Wii tournaments, Just Dance, rock music, Bon Jovi, family game nights, and road trips.

We have instilled in them that THIS.IS.IT.  And I think they are finally getting it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Damn Good Cause

I know someone who holds foster adoption as dear to her heart as I do.  She's a foster mom, and also the adoptive mom of a foster child.  She loves her son and is currently looking for a sibling for him.

Foster children have what are called 'Life Books' that contain stories and photographs of their lives as they go through the foster care system.  Since their lives are so uprooted, it's a way for them to record their memories.  This way, they have something that they can own, and be proud of, and look back on.  It is usually passed on to the adoptive parents, or in some cases, back to the biological parents if it is deemed that they are to go back home.

Sometimes the children are so nomadic, living out of cardboard boxes, and constantly moving, that these Lifebooks are lost.  Or they aren't kept up well by their foster parents.  It's understandable, but not acceptable.

Enter Andrea.  She has a plan to make these Life Books digital, so that all of their information is readily accessible and available, no matter where they go.  This service is free to foster children and their families.  It is in the upstart stages, but I see this idea taking off and becoming the new norm.  How wonderful that these children always have access to their memories.  How wonderful that no matter where they end up, they will always be able to look back on their lives, and never lose these memories.

Recently, Digital Lifebooks entered the Pepsi Refresh Everything contest to win a $50,00 grant towards the cost of implementing this idea.  PLEASE, go to Digital LifeBooks - Pepsi Contest and vote for them to win!!  You can vote once per day.  It's a great cause, one that is near and dear to our hearts, and it would mean the world to a child.

Be the change - and vote!

Much Love!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Making Me Smile

You should know by now that I am a huge proponent of foster adoption.  As such, I am in touch with others who are interested in foster adoption, or who happen to be going through it.

One of those internet friends posted today that her paperwork is all in to her adoption agency, and they are getting into their Home Study phase!  I was so excited for her - it really made my day to read that.

It's been a tough few days for me.  And I think that God knew I needed to read some good news.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


We had our fifth visit yesterday.  The Cinco.  Our social worker commented that she can see a huge difference in both of the kids - especially W.  He used to have a lot of anxiety whenever someone would come to the house to see the kids.  Now, he looks forward to Miss Emily's visits, and has become very comfortable with her.

In the mail yesterday we received our Legal Fee Agreements.  These pieces of paper are very important as they are the LAST AND FINAL pieces that we need to finalize the adoption.  We pick an attorney, forward the signed agreements to him, and he helps us get the show on the road!

I talked with him tonight and what a nice man.  Encouraging, informative, and positive.  He loves doing these cases, and is excited to be a part of our process.

We're in the home stretch!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A-Ball Observations...

After a few rough starts, cancelled games, and rainy and muddy fields, it looks as though Captain Distraction is getting into a pretty good groove of practice on Monday, games on Thursdays and Saturdays. 

I don't usually go to practices on Mondays, that's daddy and son time.  I imagine things happen at practice that would make most moms mad at their husbands, you know, for yelling? At the precious?  And so it consists of the dads, and the sons.

Game times are a completely different story.  I am constantly amused at games, because gosh darn if these kids are not the cutest freaking things playing baseball.  Ever.  Amen.

We have two main coaches, and then two dads that assist.  My husband happens to be an assist coach.  So before the game, one of the coaches hands each assist a sheet of paper that shows where each kid will be playing each inning.  Each assist chooses an area of the field to help with (outfield or infield) and they take the kids on their list each inning. 

So this is how it goes:  Coach Chris yells out three boy's names.  All three run to him like there's a clown with a knife chasing them, screaming for what position they want.  "I want first, FIRST, FFFIIIIIIIRRRRRSSSSSTTTTTT!!!!" is what you hear usually at the infield coach. 

Once they get to play at first, the chalk line, the grass, and the butterflies are all WAY more interesting than being in 'ready position'.  Twirling, staring at your mitt, or checking out the kids on the playground behind left field are much easier tasks than say, focusing on the ball.  I especially love the kids that will watch the ball go by them, and stare at the rest of their team as they try to cover that position.  Like he's watching a movie, and thinking 'Heh.  Check it out - they're all trying to get this kid out that just hit the ball right to me that I ignored and now he's running to - oh hey!  Congrats, dude!  You're safe!'  All the while the sideline parents are yelling to the kid to GET! THE! BALL! AND GO! TO! FIRST!  Ah, the joys of being an A-Ball mom.

My son, in particular, will take a pitch, and when he doesn't hit it, will look over at me.  DON'T LOOK AT ME SON, LOOK AT THE BALL!  For the LOVE!

I once told W that when he is playing in the field, and the ball is heading for him, that he needs to pretend that if he doesn't catch it, the world will end.  He would stand in the same spot, and expect that the ball come to his glove like a moth to a flame.  Yeah, it doesn't quite work like that.  So once I told him this, his FEET started propelling him towards the ball.  Miracle of miracles!  He made a few great catches!  One time he missed, losing the ball in the sun, and looked over at me and started making excuses.  I simply said 'No excuses!' and he grinned and played on.

He trotted off the field and said, loudly, 'Mom!  I catched the ball because it would blow up the world!"  Fantastic, son.  Please avoid using that phrase at the airport.  Thanks.

He's quite the good hitter.  Once he connects, he can drop the ball into short right field.  He's very proud of himself when he makes it all the way home.  And overall, we as parents are simply encouraging and uplifting.  W told me the other day that he LOVES baseball.  Let's hope he keeps that love alive.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More on that in a minute...

W is a jokester - and he has no idea that he's so funny.  Some recent examples:

*Apparently he and daddy were watching the baseball game the other day (natch) and the "muffin-top lose weight" commercial came on.  W pulled his shirt up, and proceeded to poke and pull and prod, trying to see where his muffin top was.  And also, he doesn't have one.

Meanwhile, daddy is watching him do this, trying really hard not to laugh and asks him: Do you have a muffin top?  W answers: No, dad!  To which my husband replies: And that's good kiddo.

*One of our nicknames for him is 'Captain Distraction'.  He's 7, and in possession of a penis, so he is predisposed to being distracted easily.  He will rush in to wherever his dad and I are (usually in the kitchen), all the way from his bedroom in the northeast wing of the manse (20 feet away), and need to tell us something "rightnowcan'twait...!!!!one!11".

We stand there, waiting, and we get... 'Oh, I forgot'.  Not even kidding.  It's actually hilarious.

*Mornings are sometimes a challenge is he hasn't gotten his alloted eleventy-nine hours of sleep.  I find myself saying 'Oh W' a lot.  Every morning. And he usually responds with 'Oh mom!'. 

*We will discuss something at the dinner table, and no sooner has the last syllable left my breath that he will ask a question about what we JUST. TALKED. ABOUT.

i.e. I will say 'and then we will put away our laundry' and he will say 'do I have to put away my laundry' - but not in the oh ma, do I hafta? sense... more of the I wasn't listening to a word of that, but I just realized my laundry is still on my bed.  I should ask mother if I should go forth and putteth away my laundry sense.  At least, that's how *I* think it goes in his head.  It has to.  The stuff he doesn't hear amazes me.

*Which brings me to - the stuff he hears versus the stuff he doesn't hear.  Take example A, above about the laundry - that's a 'not hear'.  I sit across from or next to him at each meal (depending on who's turn it is to sit where).  So, what?  Max: four feet; Min: poking me violently in the left boob with each bite. 

Let me whisper something to his father, while W is downstairs and around the corner, watching the city street department jackhammer the sidewalk, about anything pertaining to: ice cream, playing, vacation, or the Wii, and he hears it clear as day, like I hijacked the neighborhood ice cream truck and violated their bullhorn.

He cracks me up every day.  Even when he throws one of his W Special Tantrums.  Of course, in the middle of it, I'm asking myself how much room is on the credit card and if I can get to the airport in time for the last Cabo flight.  (I can. I pack QUICKLY). 

Truth: I wouldn't trade them for the world. 

And also - I found the BESTEST book EVAH for those of you who have little ones that fight the sleep.  I hear that between the ages of 2 and 6 is the worst.  I wouldn't know.  Yes, you can hate me now.  K was a DREAM sleeper during that time, and so are J and W now.  I don't know what J and W were like when they were between the ages of 2 and 6, so I have no frame of reference other than to say that they are GREAT now.  They go to bed, no muss, no fuss. 

Anyway - read it.  It's funny.  If even a little irreverent.  And it has a lot of F-bombs.  I'm just warning you now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

RANTS FROM MOMMYLAND: Five Universal Laws of Mornings

I had an unusually rough morning this morning. W decided to throw a fit about his choice of clothing. Yes, I said HIS choice.

Then there was this little thing called 'DUMB' at the dentist where they 'forgot' to check me in when I arrived at 8:50 for his 9:00 appt. And while I sat there IN THE WAITING ROOM, they called my house at 9:20 to ask where I was. They finally took him back at 9:55, but only after I had to have a little conversation with one of the managers. And I hadn't even KNOWN about the phone call to my house yet.

So it is with great pleasure that I direct you to this blog here. It's funny, it's irreverant, it's everything I want to be when I grow up. And this post that I've referenced? Classic. Timeless. And if you're a mom, TRUE. Read on dear reader. It's hysterical.

RANTS FROM MOMMYLAND: Five Universal Laws of Mornings: "What is it about the morning routine? Why can't we get through one measly cup of coffee and *possibly* the gossip section of the paper befor..."

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Planning a Vacation Celebration!

The title of this blog is 'Working For Vacation'.  And the reason for that is simple.  Before Mr. H and I decided to venture down this road to adoption, we travelled.  A LOT.  We simply viewed our jobs as the means to another fabulous vacation.  We've been to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, all over Mexico (with Cabo being our abso fave), and Hawaii.  We've ventured to Canada and we've managed to put our feet in almost every single state in the Union.

I'm currently barreling down the road to turning 40.  Forty.  Four-Oh!  It's hard for me to get my mind wrapped around.  I don't feel forty.  But what does forty feel like?  Is there a manual?  A description?  Should I start wearing elastic-waisted pants?  (That would be a resounding NO ghost rider).

In addition, we're also barreling down the road to the finalization of the adoption.  Our fifth home visit is this month, and our sixth is in June.  That's the magic visit - that June visit.  That is the visit where our Social Worker will write on her report: Recommend to Finalize.

At that time, a recommendation will be forwarded to the judge in the kid's case for finalization.  And seeing as they just had the kids' yearly hearing on the 5th of May, he's in quite the hurry to get this show on the road.

As is their social worker, their CASA, their lawyer, and our social worker.  And them.  And us.  And everyone who has been close to us during this long and arduous journey we've been on.

So where was I? Oh yes - so we get the recommendation to finalize.  And knowing that the government moves at the speed of a paralyzed turtle, I'm expecting a court date in either August or September.  Hopefully sooner, but PLEASE not later.

Which means, we can apply for their passports, and get to CELEBRATING!

We're vacillating between an all-inclusive in Mexico (either Puerto Vallarta or Cabo), or a cruise to the Mexican Riviera - which would give us PVR and SJD, as well as a good time on a boat.  Chris and I did the Mexican Riviera cruise in January 09, and it was pretty fun.  I wouldn't get off the boat in Mazatlan again, but there's plenty to do aboard the ship.

There's not much of a price difference between the vacations, airfare included.  The big pro to the boat is that we get to see more of Mexico.

So right now, that's what I've been doing.  Looking at options, tweaking our budget to save the $$ to do it with cash, and praying to my Lord and Savior that He comes through (as He has this entire time) and makes this happen.

Celebrate.  Good times.  Come on!

Mother's Day 2011

I sit here on the eve of Mother's Day.  My 18th Mother's Day.  I have a 17 year old, a 10 year old, and a 7 year old.

My husband has made brunch plans for all of us for tomorrow.  I bought my daughter a new dress to wear.

I tucked them into bed and she sweetly whispered to me 'Happy Mother's Day mommy.  I love you.'  The quiet whisper from her sleepy lips.  The resounding hush of a daughter who, just five months ago, didn't like us to hug her.  And we didn't push it.  She didn't like to be kissed.  And we didn't push her.  She only gave affection when she was getting something in return.  And we didn't push her.

Now she freely gives affection.  Hugs, kisses, bear-grip, rib cracking hugs.  For no reason.  Other than that she has found her home.  Not her temporary home.  Her real home.

I love my children.  I am truly blessed by them.  I am a better person because of them.  And every day, I thank God that He has entrusted me with them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Commonly Referred to as "The Sun". Also Month 4 Reflections.

Sunday was a super-fantastic day at our house.  I say super-fantastic because the SUN! WAS! SHINING! and the kids were out in it ALL! DAY! LONG!

I'm so thankful that the kids have made really good friends in the neighborhood.  Kids that I like them hanging out with.  Kids that are polite, and kind, and that love to be outside as much as they do.  Chris and I were referred to as "Mr. and Mrs. H" this weekend by one of J's friends and I about died.  I simply told her "you can call me Christina" and she said "ok Mrs. H!"  Oy.

Yesterday was a fundraiser for the elementary school that my kids go to at the local burger place - Burgerville.  Well, if I'm any kind of supportive mom, I HAD to go, right?  Of course we did.  Mondays are a hectic night in our house - with baseball and activities - so we usually have a quick dinner anyway.  Burgerville is nice in that it is local, and they use local and fresh foods.  So I felt good about that treat.  We topped it off with Timber Joey shakes (a salute to the Portland Timbers - our very own MLS team!) and the night was complete!

Today is exactly four months since we brought the kids home.  Four months of bonding, and learning each other and the rules, and love.  The kids are doing way better than we ever expected - I think that it is finally sinking in with J that this is her forever home and no matter how much they try and test us, we aren't sending them anywhere (well, except summer camp for a week). 

We've been through our first Christmas together, New Year's, J's birthday, and Spring Break.  They've bonded with their brother SO quickly that it amazes even me.  He's so good with them - not that I didn't think he wouldn't be, but they are 7 and 10 years younger than he is.  They love their grandparents and Skype with them often.  They've even Skyped with their Auntie M and cousin L (my younger sister and nephew). 

We have our monthly visit with our social worker today.  I read her last reports and at the end of each one, she writes "It is the observation of this worker that bonding is progressing well.  W & J appear to be stable in their adoptive home and are ready for the adoption to finalize.  It is this worker's recommendation that the placement of W & J with Chris and Christina continue".  

Wait until she hears about the fit from a week ago.  HA!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Two Wonderful.

Two things happened at our den this weekend.

1.  The kids slept in on Saturday morning for the first time.  EVER.  That is wonderful - and to be celebrated - because that means they are both finally feeling safe enough to sleep away!!!  And that made me feel good!

2.  W threw an EPIC (and I do mean EPIC) fit on Saturday.  All because we told him he had to do his chores before he played the Wii.  When he threw the fit, we grounded him from the Wii because of his reaction. 

I need to say that the kids do not have chores every day.  They don't even have them every weekend!  We do a cleaning in our home once every two weeks.  Why?  Because life is too short to be cleaning all the time (right about here is where my husband strokes out over that sentence - and the fact that *I* wrote it). 

So W's chores are:  clean the toilet, vaccuum the stairs (with the dustbuster), take out the recycles, and dust.  Granted, I make him clean the toilet about once a week (hey!  He's the one with the bad aim!) and he takes out the recycles when the bin gets full.  We're talking maybe a half hour of chores here. 

That he threw a fit over. 

So while he is cleaning the toilet, he's sobbing like I just kicked his puppy.  Chris goes into the bathroom and explains to him that tears do not get the toilet clean, and to please use the bleach wipes (I kid, he told him to dry it up).  He finishes that, and goes to his room, where I promptly tell him to go vac the stairs.  While he is sobbing.  He finishes that and goes to his room (are you catching the pattern?)  I tell him to go dust.  He starts sobbing again (I like kicking the puppy, ok?).  I asked him what his deal was, and he tells me those three little words that I will not let them use as a standard answer to me:  I don't know.

So I tell him to go ahead and sit on his bed for a while and think about it.

He does so.  While sobbing.

At this point (I know, you're feeling for the poor kid.  Has to dust - ugh!) Chris goes in and tries to reason with him (ha!) and explain the rules.  All the while, W is kicking and whining and yelling and scrunching up his face and THROWING. A. FIT.  Sigh.

Once we got through to him that throwing a fit would only delay the inevitable, and would not get him out of his chores, he started really laying it on thick.  So we sat him on his bed to figure it out and went back to what we were doing.

Eventually, the child finished his chores.  When I asked him if the fit was worth it, and showed him how little time it took to finish his chores and he could have been playing the Wii by now if he hadn't lost his shit, he told me he was sorry.  I accepted his apology, and gave him loves. 

Why is this a good thing?  Because he felt safe enough to let his feelings rage, roar, and generally show his ass because he knew that we would get him through it. 

Progress.  We're doing it right!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Months.

Wow.  It's been a while since I've update you all on how things are progressing!  I apologize - but MAN it's been a really busy month!!

On Friday, March 11, I had to drive to the coast to speak at our Regional Conference.  A good friend of ours offered to take the kids, since I was simply going for the night, and coming back early the next morning.  The kids had no school, so I planned on dropping them early and heading out - I was slated to speak at 2.

That morning, when I woke up and turned on the news, an earthquake had hit Japan (8.9) and had caused a 23ft Tsunami - wiping out large pieces of the island nation, and causing death and devastation.  It was a sad and scary time - and they were afraid that we were going to get Tsunami waves at our coast.  We had to wait it out, but long story short, there were no devastating waves hitting the Coast, and although we started late, the conference went off beautifully.

Sunday the kids and I walked the 5K in the Shamrock Run, while Chris ran it.  It was raining (shocker) but we all had a good time.

Spring Break found us taking a few days off to head to the Great Wolf Lodge in Washington, where we had an absolute BLAST.  I recommend that anyone take their children - it's so completely geared for them and so much fun.

We did some bowling, had family pictures taken, and then had to say good bye to Spring Break.

Back to school - and now the month is almost over.  Things are going well here.  We're all settling in.  W started baseball and seems to have a knack for hitting!  J is going back to gymnastics on the 4th.  Things are settling in.

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day.  Right now I have two bowls of cereal in the freezer - with milk, spoons already in!  When I get the kids up tomorrow, I'll pour a little more milk on top and laugh as they try and get the spoons out to eat!!  I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Camping. And Camp. And Sleeping Away.

I've started to think about camping. 

And started to research sleepaway camps.

Some of my best childhood memories were those that I spent at Three Springs Farm in Pennsylvania.  I had such a great time hanging out with friends, running around on warm summer nights, riding horses, playing 'Murder' in the farmhouse, playing games in the converted barn, and swimming.  Every child should experience at least one week at sleep-away camp.  The memories are so worth it.  Bonus: Mom and Dad get a week to connect, sleep in late, and just BE together.

I found a sleep-away camp that is only an hour away.  I showed the kids, and they are STOKED!  Right?  I was thinking there might be some thoughts of missing us (they assured us they would) and being homesick (they looked at me like I'd lost my marbles) but it seems they're ok with the thought of it - for now.

Turns out that the place where Chris works sponsors a clean-up day at this camp!  So we're most likely going to volunteer to go assist in cleanup.  I want the kids to be involved in some community service anyway, and this will give us a chance to show the kids where they will be.  It will also let them see that we are only an hour away.

We're all very excited about this opportunity for them.  Now all that's left is to pick a week, register them, and count down the days!  I'm so excited for them.  I just know they're going to make memories that last a lifetime!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I enjoy the feedback...

Since I started chronicling our journey on this blog, I've had the sporadic comment or two. Or three. Those are easy to see. What you don't see, however, is the emails I get. I've always said that it is my goal in chronicling our journey to inspire someone to at least consider adoption. It's my ultimate goal to inspire someone to consider adopting from the foster care system.  The emails that I have received have been inspiring, complimentary, admiring, inquisitive, and altogether uplifting.  Mostly they've been curious as to our progress and our feelings as we move on down the road.

There are several pros and cons to adopting from the foster care system, this I will readily admit.  What I tire of hearing is those who have never been through the process that have an opinion about the child that will come from the system.  You know, the ones who have a 'friend/neighbor/dental assistant who swears that it's SO difficult and all of the children are damaged.' {insert GIANT eyeroll here}

{Pause while I find my eyes and roll them BACK into my head}

Yes, older children may tend to have issues or traumas that may need special care or attention.  They may have trouble attaching or bonding.  They may have difficulty trusting adults.  They may have anger issues. They may be in a place where there isn't much you think you could do for them.

I don't profess to be the authority on adoption from the foster care system in every state.  I don't even believe I'm the expert on adoption from Oregon.  This I do know: in this state, the adoptive parents get a choice.  They fill out a 'wish list' of sorts.  On this list are several 'issues' that a child could have, and you check off whether or not you feel you could or would be willing to deal with it.

Now you might want to sit down for this, because here's the big confession:  one of our children has a diagnosis that we both decided when we filled out our questionnaire that we would NOT be equipped to handle.  That's right - until we received the background on our children, we had made the choice that we wouldn't choose a child that had this diagnosis.

And then we saw W&J.  And we read their story.  And our hearts melted.

So what of this change of heart?  Well, we have at our disposal a myriad of assistance through the state.  Resources and help that we are free to take advantage of with amazing results.  We are smack in the middle of some assistance right now and coupled with the safe landing place we are creating for our child, there is remarkable progress being made.

I'm not here to guilt anyone into doing something they don't want to do.  I'm also not here to be lauded as a saint, or hailed as a person who stands above others in her morality.  I'm here as an example of what you can do, when you put your heart and mind into it.  I'm here to be a source of support and information for those who are considering this wonderful, crazy, bi-polar roller coaster of a journey that adoption can be.

Please continue to send me emails (link is in the right sidebar).  I respond to them all, and I love hearing how I've inspired someone, however I've done it.

You can also follow me on twitter - I'm @christinaherren.

Monday, February 21, 2011

2 Months.

Saturday marked two months since we brought our kids home.  In those two months, we've been steadily learning how to relate to each other, and how the rules work (which goes both ways).  W has an amazing sense of humor, and I find myself cracking up at him at the most odd moments.  It seems his favorite is dinnertime.  That's when we all sit down together and it's W's Comedy Hour.

J is navigating the social anxiety-ridden world that is fourth grade.  FOURTH!  When did the mean girls get younger?  I didn't have to deal with them until 6th grade.  I was hoping for a little more time.  The need to be popular and liked is so overwhelming.  I feel the angst for her when she describes it.  I remember what it was like when I was the flat-chested freckle-faced gangly girl that the other girls (and some of the boys - I'm looking at you Shawn Wirth!) made fun of.  I remember feeling like I didn't belong.  I remember my parents telling me it wouldn't matter in ten years.  What I wanted to scream to them was that it WASN'T in ten years RIGHT NOW!  And that was all that mattered - RIGHT NOW.  And I find myself telling her that when she goes to apply for college, they won't ask if she was popular, or the head cheerleader, or the prom queen.  They will be looking at her grades, and her community service, and her involvement.

And as we all know, I got that look.  The same look I am sure I gave my mother.  And in that instance, I understood.  It's all I can do to simply give her advice, and things to say.  And stand back, and let her navigate it like I had to.  On my own.  I turned out alright, and she will too.

Today we have our monthly visit with Miss Emily, our social worker.  Then I have to take the kids to the doctor for their annual physicals.  Seems they haven't seen a doctor in quite a while.  It was the same story with the dentist.  (Don't get me started).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Today She's 10.

My daughter turns 10 today.

My daughter.  The one who I just met two months ago.  The one we prayed for, wished for, grew in our hearts.  The one that makes me laugh, the one that is so smart, and funny, and artistic.  The one that is starting to be boy crazy.  The one I watch and guide while she navigates the ins and outs of the social system at school.

The one who is fiercely protective of her brother.  The one who is struggling to wrap her head around the fact that this is IT.  That we are her forever family, and that unlike when other 'foster' parents have told her that they were going to adopt her, we MEAN it.

The one who I watch when she's not looking, and learn her quirks, and ticks, and habits.  The one who I strive to bond with over shopping trips.  The one who has such a thick, curly head of hair, that it takes me an hour to straighten it.

The one who is starting to develop and find herself.  To see herself for the beautiful, smart and confident girl she can be.  The one who is realizing, slowly, that she has found her place.

The one I love.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Parties

We're ramping up here in the den to have a busy busy weekend.

My mother and father in law fly in Thursday night, and meet the kids in person for the first time.  The kids are so excited!  I told them that since MeMaw and Pawpaw fly in so late that they have to take a nap after school.  They both eagerly agreed.  WHAT?

On Friday, we're having a small party with our family and close friends at the house.  The in-laws used to live here, so they have several friends here.

On Saturday, J has her birthday bash at a local entertainment venue here that has bowling, games, and fun! Oh and beer for the adults!! <-- double

On Sunday, we're headed to one of the best brunches in Portland, right on the Columbia river.

Monday the in-laws have to fly home.  Just a quickie little visit.  But I'm sure not the last one!

Monday, January 31, 2011

A peek into our weekend...

My weekend started on Thursday.  My {former} stepdaughter Ash came to town from Washington with her husband Jordan and their absolutely adorable baby boy.  They had tickets to the Celtics/Blazers game on Thursday, and I told them I would watch the baby while they went to the game, and that they could stay with us.  Jordan is in the Navy, and Ash just completed her schooling for her CNA.  They had a nice date night, and I got to play with the most adorable baby! 

My J was really trying to wrap her head around the relationships.  Ash is K's sister (my teenager), and since K is their brother, J finally said 'Oh!  So you're our sister too!'  It was so cute.  Before I could even correct her, Ashlee just said 'sure!  You can think of me as a big sister.'  Made me want to cry.  I thought it was SO big of her heart to say that.

Let me just tell you that their baby is SO good.  Even Chris was amazed at how good he is.  Smiling, laughing, sitting on the rug surrounded by toys, there isn't much that upsets this kid!  He's a good boy and they are truly blessed to have him.

Friday the kids had no school so I took a PTO day and made breakfast for everyone.  We got cleaned up and headed to the mall to walk around.  We ate lunch, and headed home.  I was making a nice family dinner for us of cesar salad, lasagna and garlic bread, and had left the sauce simmering while we were gone.  We came home to the most unbelieveable smells!  Delish!

W had a birthday party to attend, so daddy took him to that while Ash and Jordan went back to the mall for some things they decided to get.  I kept the baby, and J was outside playing with her friends.

Unfortunately, Ash and Jordan had to leave early Saturday, as Jordan had to report back for duty.  After they left, the kids woke up and we fed them and they headed outside.  If there's one thing those two love to do, it's play outside.  Which is great, because we've really had some great weather lately!

We gathered them up around 10:45 to head out and get some errands done.  We went to the Woodburn Outlets and bought them up some clothes.  Little Miss J scored at the Aeropostale store, while I hooked W up at the Gap.  I got some stuff at Tommy (my fave) and the whole family got matching shoes at Converse!

On the way home, we stopped at Famous Dave's BBQ for lunch.  Once we got home, the kids went outside to play for the rest of the afternoon.  When they came back in, we tucked them downstairs with the next Harry Potter installment (they've been watching the series) and let them watch that.

Sunday, we headed to church.  W was so excited about his spiffy new clothes.  He does like to dress up!  After church, we came home and dad went outside with the kids to do some yard work and I started laundry.

Chris and I have been discussing the need for a larger family vehicle, now that we have three kids (one being a 6' tall teenager).  We've been looking and keeping an eye out, and yesterday we found something.  After about three hours at the dealership, we drove home in a Pre-Owned Lincoln Navigator.  We got a screaming deal, WELL below Blue Book, and this car has EVERYTHING.  DVD Player, Navigation, heated and cooled seats, power everything.  It's honestly the nicest car we've ever owned.  We like it.

The kids were excited about the DVD player, and when we explained to them that it is NOT for trips to the grocery store, but for road trips, they were fine with it.

I have to say, overall, we have some pretty good kids.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shopping. It's not just for the rich and famous! Bonding. It's a journey!

Chris took W to go register for baseball last night.  I decided to take little Miss J shopping!  I'm getting her to realize that sometimes it is FUN to treasure hunt at the Goodwill.  So off we went.

We walked into Goodwill and as we were going through the racks, I thought to myself 'Old Navy is right across the street.  And it's just about clearance time.'  So I looked at J and said "Let's go to Old Navy!"  She replied "Really?"  Sigh.  Their reactions sometimes still amaze me.  Then she proceeded to tell me that this was going to be 'the best day ever'.  Which would be fine.  Except any time we do ANYTHING that she likes, it's 'the best day ever'.  I'm struggling to get across to her that just because we go to the zoo, or go out to lunch, or order in pizza, or sign them up for gymnastics, doesn't make it the 'best day ever'. 

So while we were in the car, I told J "sweetie.  Dad and I are your parents.  Taking you shopping, and going out to lunch and going to the zoo are things that parents do with their children.  I need you to start telling yourself that this is it.  This is what a family is supposed to be like.  This is what a family does.  I know that you have had foster parents in the past tell you that they were going to adopt you, and then that fell through.  However, dad and I came into this process not to be foster parents.  We came into this process with the sole intention of adopting.  Now that you are here, it's ON!  Like Donkey Kong!"

J is having some problems with attachment.  She attaches for rewards.  In other words, she only shows affection when she gets something out of it.  She only engages with the family and gets excited when she is going to get something in return.  I know some of you may be nodding and saying 'um, yeah, so does my kid', but if you are the bio-parents of that kid, then it's different.  Trust me.

Case in point:  W will come up to us and give us hugs for no reason other than he just wants some affection at that time.  He willingly asks to help with chores, or carry things in from the car.  He engages with us, whether we are disciplining him or praising him.  Whether we are reading to him or we just smile across the room at him.

J will not do any of that.  She's the first to rush into the house from the car when we get home.  She only does chores when we ask her to, and only WHAT we ask her to do, nothing more.  We don't get hugs randomly, only when we've given her something.  She doesn't engage unless we make her.  When she is being disciplined, she gets a look on her face that definitely says: I really don't care what you have to say.  She disengages, and shuts down.  We can tell that there are times when she is only doing or saying what she thinks we want to see her do or hear her say. 

So we are working on reiterating that this is it, this is the final lap.  This is NOT her temporary home, it's where she belongs. 

I am hoping that my speech to her got through last night.  And all I can do is continue to reiterate to her that this is it. 

On a positive note - we're getting ready for her birthday bash!  She's going into the double digits and will be 10!  She's excited about her party, as are we.  Memaw and Papaw are flying up from Arizona and we're going to make a weekend out of it.  Should be a great time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mean Girls.

It was inevitable.  As is bound to happen in 4th grade, there was a little fracas yesterday involving the girls.  One girl was excluded and all the girls were talked to about cliques.  At lunch, a boy was made fun of, and once again, all of the girls were talked to about being mean.

When J got home, I asked her about it.  To her credit, the teacher did tell me that she stood up for her friend and is honest when the teacher asks her what happened.  We've been informed about a certain girl in J's class, and it seems she was at the center of the whole drama.

Chris and I were discussing it before talking with J and we agreed that back when we were in school, none of this would have been cause for the teacher to get involved.  The cliques were what they were.  I guess in the aftermath of tragedies like Columbine, school officials are tending to be a bit more cautious. 

We explained to J that we weren't going to tell her she couldn't hang out with this girl.  We want her to be the better person, to possibly have a positive influence on this girl, to be the leader in the right way.  I explained to her that being the mean girl is not the cool thing to do, and it won't get her anywhere in life.

Mean girls.  Sugar and spice and everything nice.  Or so you think.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One Month Today.

It's been exactly one month since we brought the kids home.  It's been one month of adjustments, tantrums, and exhaustion - and the kids are going through some stuff as well (bah dum dum!).

In all seriousness, the last three days have seemed to be easier.  That's the best way I can explain it.  It seems that we're getting how to communicate to and with them, and they're getting how the rules work around here.

We've established family nights, chores, routine.  The days go by much faster than they used to, but that's ok.

J got the book 'The Care and Keeping of You' from me last week.  I recommend it to ANYONE who has a daughter.  I'm not kidding.  RUN to Amazon and get this book.  Like yesterday.  I don't care that your daughter is nine months old.  Get it.  Now.
I read the entire thing before I gave it to her and I cannot recommend it enough - have I said that?  She is 9, will be 10 on 2/12, and it was timely.  She's a bit more on the mature side, she's my 10 year old going on 15.  There are a few things that we all fumble on explaining, and this book does it well, and with language that isn't condescending or patronizing.

I also bought this one:
I haven't read it yet, and she won't get it until her birthday.  But I've seen her moods strike already and I want her to understand what she's going through.

I also bought this one:

Mainly because I want her to make good choices.  She has a good foundation with us now on learning to make choices.  She hasn't always had that, and I want her to hear it coming from another source other than mom.  You know, cause I am about to enter the time in my life where 'I KNOW NOTHING'.

This one is another birthday present.

And finally:
She will FUH-LIP when she sees this one.  Chris and I have decided we may start letting her stay home for little bits at a time.  She's almost 10, which in Oregon is when kids are legally allowed to be home alone (one of, I believe, only three states that has a law about age).  She's already asked, and we might as well start getting her ready for it.  Like I said, she's more mature than a lot of the 9-10 year olds I've seen, and as long as she can prove herself, I think she'll do well.

W continues to crack me up.  He's got a very good sense of humour.  He also has a HUGE heart.  We were at a friend's house this weekend for a birthday party.  The kids were all playing in the playroom and one of the little girls fell.  He stopped what he was doing, went to her, and helped her up, all while saying 'you're ok!  Come on.'  I almost lost it.  What a sweetie.

That's not to say he can't be a Cranky McCrankerpants.  Oh brother when he doesn't get his way.

All in all, it's going well.  We're settling in.  We're figuring it out.  And, dare I say, we're successfully parenting two kids who deserve to have a stable family.

We're still here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Nerve. It has been stomped on.

Today was difficult.  When our kids had their TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) hearing on December 7th, we knew that their case worker had offered mediation to the bio-parents.  We also knew that we had the full support of the kid's case worker and OUR case worker that we could refuse to mediate.  I won't go into detail as to why, but trust me when I say, it was in the best interest of our kids.

Fast forward to today.  My cell phone rang and it was the mediator.  She read me the list of the bio-mom's 'demands' in mediation.  I had to really hold my tongue on quite a few of them, and then professionally, but calmly had to tell the mediator that we would NOT be mediating.  In other words, the b-mom could go pound sand.

I've spent the rest of the day in disbelief.  These children were taken away from you, not once, not twice, but THREE times because you couldn't properly take care of and protect them.  Then you had a year to get your act together, but you couldn't do that, could you?  And now you are 'demanding' things from me?  Yeah.  Good luck with that.

I was able to vent on a message board I frequent to some women who I love with all my heart and who have supported me throughout this whole process, and continue to support me still.  <-- pardon that ridiculous run on sentence!

I appreciated the kind words and, I won't lie, the stand in solidarity that I got from them.

And now here I sit.  Still shaking my head in disbelief.  Writing this little blurb as I listen to my husband go over our son's spelling words with him.  Knowing that our daughter is safely tucked in her bed writing in her journal.

And knowing, that we are doing the right thing.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What I've Learned So Far

I need to get one thing straight.

I am NOT a mommy blogger.

I am a mom who blogs.

I blog about our kids, and the process, and our triumphs, successes and defeats. I share our pains, and our joys with you, the general public, in hopes that one day, I can inspire, influence, and encourage. Adoption, particularly adoption through the Foster Care system, is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

I've learned that there is NEVER enough information given to prospective parents. I've learned that you need to throw out everything you've ever imagined your family will be. I've learned that there is no magic button to assist with attachment. I've learned that children who have been through so many placements will enact coping mechanisms that will often surprise and sometimes shock you. I've learned that even the youngest child can be cynical. I've learned that the things that make me sad about the way that some adults treat our children is nothing compared to what I actually see.

I've learned that it is a thin line between love and hate, and sometimes children don't see that line, or they tend to confuse the two.

The biggest thing I've learned is that I'm still learning. And the biggest thing that has surprised me is that I have a capacity for love and a fierce protectiveness that extends to children that are not biologically mine.

I'm still learning.