Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

I hope that all of you have had a wonderful Christmas. Its been a while since I've been on here...to be honest, I'm not quite sure if I'm "back" or if I'm just checking in...but I didn't want the holidays to pass without at least a quick update. Our Christmas plans were thwarted by an impending blizzard (which struck where we were headed, not so much where we live). So, we spent a rather relaxing Christmas at home with our tree and our little family of 4. It looks as though we'll be celebrating Christmas well into January now, since the celebrations have just been delayed a bit.


All in all, our Christmas has been a relaxing one. We've enjoyed playing outside, watching movies, playing with new Transformer and Star Wars toys, and catching some extra z's. Life is good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Big Big News!!!

The following is from CNN this evening:

Obama to lift HIV/AIDS travel ban
October 30, 2009 5:23 p.m. EDT
"If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," President Obama said Friday.
"If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," President Obama said Friday.


Washington (CNN) -- President Obama announced Friday that he will lift a 22-year-old ban on entry into the United States for people infected with HIV/AIDS.

The administration intends to publish a new federal rule next week eliminating the ban by the start of 2010, he said.

"We talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat," he said at the White House. "If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it."

Obama said that lifting the ban is a "step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment. It's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives."

The United States, he said, is one of only a dozen countries that still bar the entry of people with HIV.

Obama made the announcement shortly before signing legislation extending federally funded HIV/AIDS treatment for hundreds of thousands of underinsured, low-income Americans.

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act authorizes a 5 percent annual increase in federal support over the next four years. Funding under the law is scheduled to rise from more than $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2010 to nearly $3 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Among other things, the law helps ensure continued funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative, designed to address "the disproportionate impact of the disease on racial and ethnic minorities," according to a White House statement.

The measure easily passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week. Similar legislation first passed almost 20 years ago and was reauthorized in 1996, 2000 and 2006.

An estimated 1 million people in the United States have HIV, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost one-quarter of them are not aware that they are infected, the CDC says.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bummer


So...I had hoped to have fun pictures of all of us having a good time at the local pumpkin patch and apple orchard this weekend, but instead I am stuck at home with a couple of sickies. Bummer.

Poor Peanut has a confirmed case of H1N1. Yuck. Yesterday he came home from school not feeling very well. Took his temperature and it was 100.3. At that point I suspected he probably had "the virus" that is all over the place. He got some extra hugs and cuddles...some Sprite and pudding for dinner...and got to sleep on a cot in mom and dad's room. At 6:00am I took his temperature and it was 105!!! Yikes! He got some children's Motrin and some cold apple juice in him...and hour later it was down to 102.6. I made some phone calls to my mom and First Nurse...and it was determined I should try to get him to the clinic this morning. When the clinic opened at 8:00am, I talked with the nurse. At first she said there really was no need to bring him in unless he starts having a hard time breathing, becomes really lethargic, or we can't get his fever to come down. Then I mentioned Jellybean's chronic illness and she said "bring him in - leave the other one at home". Poor kiddo.

Peanut and I headed to the clinic an hour later. We sat there for quite a while waiting - and the waiting room was pretty full. All the kids were wearing masks. Poor Peanut was so sad he had to wear a mask. He didn't fight it...but when we sat down, he just hung his head and had big tears streaming down his face.

The doctor wasn't our normal pediatrician, but he was really great. The nurse tested Peanut for the flu (so NOT a fun test - poor Peanut cried and cried and cried when it was over). The test came back positive. And because Jellybean has Sickle Cell disease, we were given special treatment. A round of Tamiflu for both Peanut and Jellybean. Hopefully it will keep Jellybean from getting it...and help Peanut get over it quickly.

Z also seems to have a touch of "something". Probably H1N1. Great.

Hopefully I'll be able to keep myself healthy - at least until everyone else is better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

This is going to be a mish-mash of a post, but that's kind of where I am right now.

First, things at our house are just never dull these days. In fact, it seems as though we've just been inundated with icky stuff to deal with lately. First it was the mystery rash, then the communication issues with a Kindergarten teacher, and this week I discovered that a certain (really hairy) fur-kid has the dreaded flea. Ugh. In a house with lots of fur-kids, fleas are a MAJOR problem. Our pets get lots of people attention, so I hope that we caught them early. Only one fur-kid has fleas (or evidence of fleas), but EVERYBODY got treated just the same. And last night we did a top-to-bottom cleaning of the house in hopes of stopping the invasion right where it was. I'm praying this is the last we see of fleas. Its yucky. And embarrassing. Ugh. Our neighbors have pigeons...I'm pretty sure that's the source of our flea problem.

The "Kindergarten Issue". We've determined that the Kindergarten teacher is probably very annoyed with us at this point. We don't really care about that so much...but we've decided that now that we've told the teacher what our issue is and what our expectation is (that she start communicating with us more effectively) that we will give it a couple weeks to see if things start improving. They improved a bit last week...so we'll see how long it lasts. If it doesn't get better or if it gets better and then gets worse again, we're going to bring in the Principal and hash things out until we are more happy with the situation. I honestly don't think this teacher is a "bad teacher". I just don't think that she using the "right" strategy for our Peanut. Hopefully things get better and stay better.

Adoption news. Nope - there's no news. (Ok...its not COMPLETELY true that there's NO adoption news. We recently got our I-600a approval, so there has been some news). I'm struggling a bit with how I feel about the lack of news. I don't really EXPECT news at this point...but I also really wish there was something to report. We've been at this for so long, it feels like there should be SOMETHING. I hesitate a bit to put this in writing, but I am getting to a place where I no longer BELIEVE this adoption is going to happen at all. And even if it were to happen, my idea of "the perfect child" for our family right now is changing. On paper, we are requesting a child under 5. We've told our adoption coordinator we'd like a girl under 5. But the truth is...my heart is really longing for a baby. I know that this is very likely the child that will complete our family. Z has always wanted 3 kids. I've always wanted 3 or 4 kids. I'm not sure that Z will ever want the 4th child. Maybe. We are approved to adopt 2 kids (in the event there is a sibling pair that captures our hearts), but we are both hoping a single child is who captures our hearts this time around. But all of that means that this next child might be my last chance to have a baby. I've never really felt that pull before...but lately, my heart just longs for all things little. I don't know what that means in terms of our adoption. Do we switch to a program where babies are available? I don't know. I'm honestly really tired of thinking and rethinking and overthinking everything in terms of our adoption process. I'd really just love it at this point if "THE ANSWER" just fell into our laps. Unlikely, I know.

The internet. I've been cutting down the amount of time I spend online lately. I don't visit the online groups that I am a part of as much...I don't spend as much time reading every email that gets sent from yahoo forums I'm on...I don't spend as much time blogging...I don't spend as much time "playing" online as I used to. It just got to the point where things were getting too hard for me. It was too hard for me to be reading about other people's good adoption news - that terrible jealousy bug bites hard sometimes. It was too difficult and scary to read about other people's bad adoption experiences. It was getting to the point where I was spending so much time dwelling on that "stuff" that I didn't have the time I needed to do things that help renew my spirit. So I shut the computer off.

I've been spending more time with my family - and actually being PRESENT (instead of my mind being somewhere else). I started trying to teach myself how to crochet (just because I didn't know how). I think I have the very basic stitches worked out, but I am clearly missing a stitch every time I change direction, because what I am working on is looking more like a triangle than a square - but I don't really care at this point. I'm just doing it for fun. I'm sure I'll figure out the problem and be off and running. I went up into my sewing room and actually started sewing. Over the weekend I started a quilt and got about 1/2 of the quilt top done in one day. It was HEAVEN. It made me feel so wonderful to just get started again. I just pray that I someday have a little girl to wrap in the purple and green quilt.

But, I guess that is all to say that if you don't hear from me all that much in this space, that is why. I'm still here. I still read the important things. I still get the gist of what's going on in my yahoo groups...I just am not putting in the time and energy that I used to. It was/is just too hard. Maybe someday I will be able to read about other people's adoption journeys and have their news not affect my mood regarding our adoption journey. But right now, its just too difficult to compartmentalize.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"The Rigors of Kindergarten" or "Why I'm Currently Mad at a Kindergarten Teacher"

When the school year started (and Peanut entered Kindergarten), we knew that he was going to have a bit of a tough transition. Peanut has been dealt a bit of a disadvantage, compared to his classmates. In our small town, kids like Peanut aren't very common. He's the only kid in his class with a dark skin color. He's the only kid in his class who was adopted. He's the only kid in his class who lost his whole family and his culture...who then had to get used to a new culture, a new country, a new home, and a new family. In the past two years, Peanut has been through a tremendous amount of change. He's making incredible progress and I know that he will continue to do so...but people in his life need to give him the tools he needs (and the chance) to succeed.

Before school started, Z took Peanut in to school to meet his teacher and check out his classroom. During this meeting, Z told the Kindergarten teacher that Peanut was going to need some additional work. He told her that it was important that she be consistent. He told her that it was important that she make it clear to him at the very beginning of the school year what the boundaries were...and what the consequences were for over-stepping those boundaries. Z told her to expect Peanut to do some attention-seeking behaviors...and that these behaviors were related to his past and his difficulties with attachment. Z told her that we expected some difficult days for him and that once he knew what his boundaries (and consequences) were, then we expected he would do just fine. We told her to please let us know right away if he was not behaving appropriately so that we could address the behaviors right away.

We were clear with her.

Yesterday, Peanut had a rough day at school. His "cubby" was red - which means his behavior was bad at school (the first red he's had). So, he lost some privileges at home and had a "talking to" about his behavior. I wrote a note to the teacher letting her know that if there were specific behaviors that she would like us to address at home that she should let us know so that we could help Peanut work on these things.

She wrote a note back letting us know that yesterday's behavior wasn't really different from any other day so far...its just that now she's enforcing the rules because they are a month in to school and the students should be used to school and the rules now. She said Peanut is having a hard time with "Kindergarten-appropriate behaviors". She said she knew we had been recommended to enroll Peanut in the Pre-K program, but that we had opted out of it. She wanted us to know that Pre-K was still an option for Peanut and that she thinks it would be a good option for him. If we want to talk about this option for Peanut, please give her a call.

UGH.

A month in to school and this is the FIRST TIME we are hearing about his "inappropriate" behaviors.

Why did we bother telling the teacher any of our concerns BEFORE school started? She clearly did not take anything we said seriously. Now, poor Peanut has spent a month at school thinking he was doing just fine...only to learn yesterday that he wasn't. Now he's confused about those boundaries...and the consequences. Now we have to re-teach him how to be a Kindergartener.

Now, I don't want to paint with a broad brush, but I have a feeling that this teacher read Peanut's "Kindergarten Round-up" evaluation and made up her mind about Peanut before she even met him. She's writing him off because he's going to be more work. And I'm concerned that she isn't going to listen to any input that we give her.

She wants us to put him in Pre-K...he'll turn 6 in Pre-K...and then turn 7 in Kindergarten. Am I crazy to think this is a bad idea?

Z and I are determined to make sure that Peanut is not punished for being adopted and for having a background that is "different" than the typical kid in our town. The teachers who have suggested Pre-K for Peanut have all tried to tell us that it is there to "help him". They are worried that "the rigors of Kindergarten" will "damage his spirit" and they think that Pre-K will help him transition better. But none of them want to hear that holding him back (and now removing him from Kindergarten and sending him back to Pre-K) will also "damage his spirit". Peanut has wanted to go to school from the moment he got off the airplane. He was heartbroken when his big brother got to go to school and he didn't. He's SMART. He needs to go to school. When he gets bored, he misbehaves. Somehow, I don't think that Pre-K will engage him enough to keep him busy and keep him from getting bored.

But what do I know?

I'm just his MOM.

My mistake? Taking him to the week-long Kindergarten Round-Up. I really wish I had not taken him, and that I had instead just enrolled him in Kindergarten. Kindergarten Round-Up has only given the teachers an "out". Its given them the chance to pre-judge my little boy and that just stinks. Now we have to work to get the teacher to step outside her box of familiarity and figure out some new strategies that will work for our little boy. He deserves to be in Kindergarten with the rest of the kids his age. He deserves to be given an education and be evaluated fairly. He deserves a chance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Proverb

"To climb a mountain, you zigzag."
-Zimbabwean Proverb

This seems particularly fitting. I seem to be doing a lot of zigging and zagging lately. Eventually, though...we'll reach the top of the mountain and have a great view. At least, I hope so.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Planning Ahead

After church today, Z headed out of the house to do a little "guy stuff". Since we have a tremendously busy week ahead of us this week, I decided to use the time wisely and do some cooking to help us get through the week (or at least to get us started).

The boys wanted to help, so we put on our aprons and got to work!


First we made a pan of these.


Then some of these.


And a big old pot of chili to go with them.

Why is it that chili never looks very appetizing in a photo? Its gonna be good, though...It is going to cook all day long in the crock pot tomorrow and we'll come home to a kitchen smelling wonderfully spicy. Then all I will have to do to be ready for dinner tomorrow is make some rice (the boys like to eat their chili over rice) and grate some cheese.

And since we were already in the kitchen, I thought we'd make these, too.


I think we're good on snacks for the week. Now I just have to plan out the rest of our evening meals. I know the chili will provide us with a couple of nights...as well as some lunches. Maybe some roast in the crock pot another night? We'll see what I come up with. At least I have a good start now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mish Mash

Since I'm feeling a little under the weather (and I am confined to sitting down so as not to cause my head to explode), I thought I would update the blog. It seems as though things around these bloggy parts have been neglected lately. I've had lots of things I've wanted to write...but I haven't really been feeling like sharing too much lately. We'll just chalk that up to adoption-related funk.

Today I took the little camera out of my purse and downloaded the photos. Who knew I hadn't posted photos of the boys at swimming lessons over the summer?


I am happy to report that they both passed their swimming lessons and loved their time in the pool (even though it was July and FREEZING here - we had to bundle the boys (and ourselves) up in sweats in order to get to the pool on several days).

I also realized that I had not yet posted photos of the first day of school! Yikes! Yes...we've been in session since Aug. 24th!
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The boys have had a mostly good beginning to the school year. I was a little worried about how Peanut would do going into Kindergarten (especially after that Kindergarten round-up in the Spring), but he's doing just fine. I expect he'll have some rough days here and there, but overall he's LOVING school. Every day the first week he would declare "Mommy! I LOVE school!" when I picked them up from the after-school program. Now, if we could just get him to eat faster so he finishes his lunch...

And Jellybean? Well...let's just say the first week was a rough one. There was a note sent home from the teacher (for bad behavior) ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!! Not the best way to start first grade...But, things have picked up since that first week and he's getting back into the groove. All summer long he thought he was DONE with school, since he had finished Kindergarten. We kept trying to explain to him that he still had a lot of years of school ahead of him, but he simply didn't believe us. Apparently it was a bit of a rude awakening when the first day rolled around.

These days, we're dealing with sinus infections and a mystery rash around here. The Daddy and I have sinus issues...and poor Jellybean has a nasty mystery rash. It looks TERRIBLE. We've taken him to the pediatrician and are hoping that its cleared up soon (and that no one else gets it).

A Rare Occassion

Both the Daddy and the Mommy are at home...and there are no boys here. Too bad we're both home because we're sick.

One of us is going to have to go pick up the boys from the after-school program soon.

Hopefully the pot of chicken noodle soup I'm cooking will help us feel better. And hopefully the boys are up for a low-key evening.

Parade

We've been to our share of parades this summer. Of course, the boys love them...and always come home with TONS of candy. But recently, the boys had a special treat and got to see Daddy marching in the local parade. He's the handsome guy on the right.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fingerprinting, Take 3

This morning, Z and I headed off to get our fingerprints taken...Again. This time for USCIS.

We dropped the boys off at the before-school program, drove to the Federal Building, arrived for our 8:00am appointment, and were back on the road by 8:30am. At least it was a quick appointment this time.

On the way home, however, Z and I talked about how it all just seems like an exercise in futility. We are one step further into the process. But with each step, it feels more and more like we are walking into a dark tunnel...with no light to guide us from the other side.

I hope we're wrong.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today's Proverb

I love it when my daily calendar has Ghanaian proverbs on it. They are always so quirky and funny (with truth in the mix, too).

Here's yesterday's proverb:
"Never rub bottoms with a porcupine." - Ghanaian Proverb



And in case you were curious about today's proverb, here it is:
"The snail leaves a trail wherever it goes." -African Proverb

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amazing Amazima

I've been reading Katie's blog for a while now. And every time I read it, I am nearly moved to tears. Every time I read it I think "The world needs WAY more Katie's in it." Every time I read it, I wonder what I could do to become more like Katie...to live more like Jesus' hands and feet in this world. She's young - she's only 20. But she's doing it. She has become a mother of 13 orphaned children in Uganda; sometimes more, as she takes in sick children for treatment and TLC. She also feeds hundreds of others every week...provides free medical treatment whenever she can...all while she shares the gospel with those she's helping. She's not just PREACHING it TO people...she's living it in her actions. She's the real deal, folks. And the world needs more Katies.

Go check out her blog - just click on the clip below.

I am angry that the result of this is that these sweet ones suffer in their innocence. I have said it before and it still holds true: I DO NOT BELIEVE that the God of the universe created too many children in His image and not enough love or food or care to go around. In fact I believe that He created the Body of Christ for just that, to help these little ones, the least of these. And I believe that except for a handful, the Body of Christ is failing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ungrateful

We had big hopes for this weekend. It is the last weekend before school starts, so we know life around here is about to get busy. Mostly everyone is excited about school starting, but there's a little trepidation in the mix, too. The boys have had a rough week or so; their nerves about a new school year coming out in bad behaviors.

Z and I wanted to do something fun with the boys this last weekend before school starts. We wanted to treat the boys with a fun new activity and help us all blow off a little steam. So yesterday we ran a couple errands and set off to play a crazy-expensive game of mini-golf. The mini-golf course is in our mall, and its a black-light course, which the boys thought was really fun. They had a great time (as did Z and I) and then we headed off to dinner at a yummy Italian restaurant.

The day was meant to be fun. It was meant to be a treat. But on the way home, we heard a chorus of complaints from the back seat. Something wasn't fun enough. Someone was upset that he didn't get to ride his bike today. Blah, blah, blah.

I have to be honest and say that I was disappointed. We had just spent a large amount of money on a treat for all of us (something we don't do all that often)...and the boys (one in particular) simply didn't appreciate it. Ugh.

This has become an increasing problem over the past few months, but yesterday made me realize that Z and I aren't doing a good job of helping the boys understand the value of money, the value of family time, and being grateful for what we have. We've decided the boys need to start earning their own money through chores and allowance and that they have to start paying their own way for some of the fun things they want to do. Perhaps they might appreciate what they have a little more if they have to earn it.

So, I need some help. What are some chores that you have your kids do?

What's the "standard" allowance these days?

What things do you do with your family to help your kids learn these lessons?

Our boys are 5 and 7 years old.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Yesterday, at dinner-time...

I had the following conversation with Jellybean:

"Mommy - this is just what I wanted!" (as I'm placing his bowl of food in front of him)

I'm glad, kiddo...I made it just for you (and your brother).

"Mommy - have I had this before?" (looking more carefully at the food)

Yes.

"Did I like it?" (looking unsure about trying the food I've just put in front of him)

Yes. You had it before AND you liked it. I bet you will like it again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Silver Lining?

I'm looking for it.

Lately I've been in a season of trial (this you know from the fact that this blog seems to have turned in to a space for venting all current adoption-related frustrations). It seems as though all we've been faced with so far in adoption #2 is frustration. We're losing hope, rapidly. We're questioning whether or not we're on the right path. We're wondering if we should jump ship before more frustrations present themselves. We're wondering if we should go back to researching more options. We're wondering if we should stick it out and HOPE that there is good news in the end. We're wondering if we should count our blessings and feel content that we have two wonderful boys, who we love like crazy (and who bring us amazing joy).

But, the truth is, no option feels like the right option. Our faith that things would work out has been tested over and over again in this process and its reached the point where our faith is failing us. We can't step out in faith when we have no faith left.

This adoption process started with such hope and excitement. Our boys' little brother would be joining them! They would all be able to grow up together in the same family!!

Then things took far longer than expected.

We asked that our homestudy be approved for 2, because the boys also had a baby sister...we thought JUST IN CASE she is relinquished by the birth family, we wanted to be ready.

Eventually we find out baby sister has died. In another orphanage. Another family had legally adopted her. The agency director who facilitated the adoption refuses to provide us with any information about her (including how she died or simply providing us some photos of her for her big brothers to have some day). The agency director was rude, mean, and down-right insensitive.

We were devastated.

As a result of baby girl's death, little brother was taken out of the orphanage by the birth family. Who can blame them? The problem? We already love little brother. The other problem? Little brother is sick. If little brother doesn't get medical care, he will die. We can't help but feel like he's been handed a death sentence by being removed from care. We can't blame the birth family for doing it...but the whole situation stinks.

Again, we were devastated.

We agonized over what to do next. We put the process on hold while we contemplated lots of options (ending the process where we were, going the route of trying for a biological child, researching other international adoption programs and agencies, domestic adoption, foster adoption). In the end, we decided we wanted to adopt from Ghana again. A myriad of reasons...but that was our decision.

The same day we made the decision, we learned about a little girl who eventually captured our hearts. We love her. We want the best for her. But she's complicated. There are details that need to be worked out - lots of details. We're praying about it. We're working on the details. But every piece of potential good news is met by an equal piece of discouraging news. Every time. Our families aren't necessarily supportive of our desire to add this particular child to our family. They have concerns. They have valid concerns.

I think we are letting her go. Unless there's some amazing intervention allowing us to bring her into our family, we're letting her go.

Again, we're devastated.

And now what? We feel drained. We feel damaged. We feel hurt and beaten. We simply feel exhausted.

And every option from here feels like a bad option. Looking into other programs and other agencies? Nope - don't have the energy left to do it.

Ending the process right here where we are? Then all of this would have been for nothing. I cannot believe that all of this pain and heartache (and expense) has been for nothing. We want another child...there are MILLIONS waiting. Surely, something HAS to work out sometime.

Continuing on the same path...waiting for a referral of the perfect child from Ghana? It sounds exhausting. The wait will be long. It seems crazy to wait and wait and wait for the perfect child from Ghana when there are so many children waiting elsewhere for a family. But I just don't feel like I have it in me to start all over with another agency and another program.

So we'll wait. Until we simply cannot do it anymore. And then we'll re-evaluate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bad News

It seems lately, day after day, we've been getting discouraging news. I keep thinking that "Today! Today will be the day the tide will change and we'll get good news." But it isn't happening.

Today was a day met with more discouraging news.

The fleece has gone unanswered.

Just more frustration.

It is oh so very hard to stay positive in the midst of all this discouragement.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Airport

This evening I drove to the airport to pick up my mentor and friend after a long field trip collecting plants. Our airport is a small airport. There is basically one big "waiting room" where people hang out before a loved-one departs and where others await their loved-one to arrive. I love hanging out at the airport. There are always happy reunions and tearful departures. That waiting room is always an emotional place for someone.

Tonight I watched as (what appeared to be) a youth group send off one of their dear friends to somewhere distant for a long period of time. There were tears. There were huddled prayer times (both before she left, and after she made her way up the escalator).

I watched as loved-ones arrived to eager hugs and kisses. I watched as little girls waited for their Daddy to come down the escalator to come home.

I watched as one young man waited for this special someone. He nervously watched the clock...and when people started coming down the escalator, he stood off to the side, watching and waiting...all the while holding a single long-stem rose.

As I watched these tender moments, I was reminded of those very emotional moments I've spent in airports. Some of which were in that very same room.

When I was a senior in college, I said good-bye to my worried parents in the airport as I headed off to Tanzania for a month-long trip. I was EXCITED. I knew this trip would have an impact on my life...I just didn't know how. I was nervous. My parents were worried. There were tears, but to be honest, my tears were short-lived. I was on an adventure!

The reunion after that trip was less emotional for me...but it was so great to return to happy (and proud) parents.

During our first year of marriage, Z and I were separated by war. He spent the entire first year of our marriage in Iraq. When he was granted his two-week leave to come home, I met him in the airport. The very same airport I sat in tonight. I was so incredibly excited that he was coming home for two weeks! We had talked through email leading up to these weeks...we made big plans. I knew those two weeks would go so fast. But at the same time, I was SCARED. Hugely scared. What if Z wasn't the same person I married? What if war had changed him? What if he no longer felt the same way when he saw me that he used to? What if we spent the whole two weeks fighting? I had heard of lots of soldiers who came home to crumbling relationships. I had heard of lots of soldiers having experiences during war that changed them. What if we didn't "connect" any more?

It turns out we were both nervous about this reunion. But, by the time we got his bags from the baggage claim, made our way to the car, and got out of the parking garage I knew we were going to be fine. We were talking like there hadn't been months and months of separation. Things were the same. WE were the same. I exhaled.

Two weeks later, I had to take him back to the airport. I cried. Buckets and buckets of tears. We were blessed to be given a pass for me to go wait in the terminal with him...so I didn't have to drop him off ages before his flight at leave. Instead I went with him to the terminal and waited until he boarded. He boarded at the last possible minute. And after he was gone, I sat in the terminal for another half-hour and cried.

But my most recent memory of the airport was of meeting my two boys for the very first time (in that very same airport). I brought my friend K to the airport with me that day. I hadn't slept much at all the night before - I was so excited! We arrived early, and I paced nervously as I waited for the plane to arrive. I worried about whether or not the boys would like me. What if they didn't like me, or were afraid of me? What if they didn't like the way I looked? What if, what if, what if? What if I made a blubbering fool of myself when I meet them? What are all these other people in the airport going to think when I start crying when these two little boys arrive with their daddy? Will Z look different to me when I see him for the first time as someone's daddy?

I remember huge tears escaping my eyes the very moment I saw them. I spotted Z first coming down the escalator...and as soon as the people in front of him reached the bottom, I could see those two precious boys holding his hands (one on each side of him). I was paralysed at that moment. I couldn't run toward them...I could only wait where I was for them to come to me. I bent down, mumbled "hello", "welcome home" and "I love you" to each of them and handed them the stuffed toy I had brought to the airport for them. We spent a little time hanging out there, getting acquainted...Our homestudy social worker and her family came to meet us there and it was wonderful to have that moment with another person who knew what that moment felt like...The time was surreal.

The airport is a special place. Its hard for me to go to an airport without those memories creeping to the surface. Those memories contain some of the very hardest moments and some of the best moments of my life.

And The Winner Is....

My friend Carolyn has updated her blog to let us all know who one the quilt raffle! I am so humbled that a little something that I whipped up with my mom has raised such a huge amount of money!! So exciting!! A huge thank you to all of you who went to Carolyn's blog and donated some money toward this great cause. The raffle for this quilt is over...but there is still time to donate money. Hop on over to Carolyn's blog to read more!

Below copied from Carolyn's blog:
REBECCA MAAS has won the quilt!!! We have raised about $3250. toward the fence due to this raffle! AMAZING!!! Thanks so much Chanda and Peggy for this BEAUTIFUL piece of art!!!

We are going to do this quite often....Raffles are way fun...

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT and encouragement to get through the first phase....

AWESOME...just AWESOME!!! I believe the tattoo day (MONDAY) is gonna bring in the rest.....I will so be taking pictures of this ordeal!!

Please keep the prayers coming!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reiman Gardens, Take 2

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and my niece *M* came to visit. We had a great time spending the weekend with them...and one of the highlights was our afternoon at Reiman Gardens.

The botanist in me likes to think the kids really enjoyed seeing all the flowers. But, the realist in me knows that the kids were far more interested in the giant dinosaur models and butterflies. Oh, well...at least we had pretty things to look at!

Here are a few photos from the day:










Proverb of the Day

"Live patiently in the world knowing that those who hate you are more numerous than those those who love you."
-African Proverb

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Can you believe he's 7 already???

Today was Jellybean's 7th Birthday. I can't believe he's 7 already. Craziness I tell you...absolute craziness.

Now, Jellybean has had a while to think about what he wanted to do for his birthday this year and he was VERY specific about what he wanted.

He wanted to go bowling for his birthday. He wanted cousins D and A to come along. He wanted to go eat pizza at Pizza Hut. He also wanted to have yellow cake in the shape of a rectangle with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

So, I guess he got the birthday party of his dreams today. Bowling, cousins, pizza, cake, plus presents.

He had a great day!