Monday, April 30, 2012

2 More Sleeps!

Yesterday we went to Costco to get a bigger suitcase (we could fit everything in the 3 rolling bags we have but there was no room for the ways clothes expand once you use them.)  While there I thought, "this is our last trip to Costco without baby sister."

It felt very profound to me.  I've read blogs where people are counting the last Thanksgiving or the last Christmas, but as those days passed before her referral they didn't really strike me.  Instead a trip to Costco almost brought me to tears (which I find particularly ironic since there is always a chance we will go to Costco again in the next two days; it is our second home.)

So what's my point?  There isn't one.  

In two days we leave for China to bring home a child.  My mind hops from thought to thought...some happy and some sad.  In a few weeks we will all be home here trying to find a new normal and at some point we will take a trip to Costco as a family of 6...and my husband will say, okay, now that we have 4 children it is time to stop taking everyone shopping.  

So some things will be just the same.  Some things will be very different.  We don't really know which will be which, but for us that is part of the joy and excitement of adding to our family and seeing all of our children grow and change and mature and expand in their ability to love.

But for our new daughter EVERYTHING will be different.  We'll try, but we probably won't even make her bottle the same.  We won't sound or smell the same.  We won't hold her or rock her the same.  As many questions as the orphanage has answered for us, I cannot think of one single thing I will be able to do the same way as her Nanny did.  We downloaded some Chinese children's songs, because they said she liked children's music, but they did not give us any titles so who knows if they are the same.  We will hold her facing in and take her outside because they said she likes those things.  We'll put her down on her tummy (which goes against every fiber of my brainwashed mommy training) because they said that is how she sleeps.  But it won't be on the same type of mattress or color of sheet and how many blankets?

So while, yes, I am excited and happy to finally, finally be leaving for China and adding this precious, adorable little baby girl to our family, I am also very, very sad that my first act as her parent is to inflict a major trauma on her.

No child should lose everything they are entitled to (to be raised by their original family as an accepted member of their home culture) and everything they have (a loving orphanage and Nanny, 9 months of language acquisition, and familiar tasting congee) before they are even a year old.

Do I believe God can heal all wounds?  That having a family is better than an orphanage...even a white American family who struggles with tones?  Do I believe this experience is part of what will shape who Sweet Pea into who God created her to be?  That my family will be blessed, grow, and become all the better by having Sweet Pea as part of us?  Do I believe that this is finally the culmination of 30 years of my hopes, plans, and dreams?

Well, yes, I do.  But I also believe that some things about adoption (particularly the need for it at all) really suck.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Moments with Sunflower

"Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a flower."

"Ummmm, you can't grow up to be a flower.  People don't become flowers."

"You said flowers grow, so when I grow I want to grow up to be a flower."
 Here she is practicing to be a flower.

A few hours later, in a sad, plaintive tone, "Mommy, what do you want me to be when I grow up?"

"Why anything you want to be, sweetie!  What do you want to do?"


I should have seen it coming.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Best

Sunflower really is the most delightful little girl.  The waiter at lunch yesterday said we need to take her to Hollywood.  With the legal limits on how much money parents can skim from their child's earnings, we have no intention of helping her break into the movies, but I really do believe she could do it.

The other day she cuddled up close to me and said, "Mommy, can I sit next to you because you are my best..."

"Sure! My best what?"


Don't worry, my head can't get too big.  Yesterday I said to Sunflower, "come sit with me...aren't I the best?"

And SnapDragon said, "Oh, Mommy, don't lie!"

He also thought that since we would be gone for Mother's Day he should give his Mother's Day present to Auntie A.  Ummm, maybe I should read even more books about attachment.

It is going to be hard to leave them for two weeks.  We will miss them so very, very much...but as Sunflower walked through the mall yesterday jumping over the black tiles and running ahead and back it confirmed our decision to leave them home.  We don't talk about it too much because it makes SnapDragon sad, but we do want them to be prepared.  Skype, here we come.

Now I'm off to the beach with my photography friends.  I'm a little nervous about sharing a house with 9 people I've only met casually before, I want to stay home with my family that I'll be missing, plus I do have some things I should be doing, but my husband said..."you paid your portion, you have to go."  I know I'll have fun, I just wish it wasn't raining.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Weeks!

We leave for China two weeks from today!  Yesterday we got our in country travel packet.  It leaves us with some questions, but it does say Metcha day is Monday May 7th...and really THAT is the only important thing.

Today is my grandmother's funeral.  It is also my last Jeremiah study but I'll miss have to miss it.  Who knew that from 26 weeks I'd only miss the last week?  Too bad I've finally learned to resist reading the end first!

Next Wednesday I do get to spend the morning with my friend who teaches my study and then afternoon tea at a tea place with the ladies from my MOPS table.

Then finally, Wednesday, May 2nd, we board a plane to Beijing, China!  11 hours later we'll be in China!

I have a sneaking suspicion that the next few weeks will fly by...and the same time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Our Weekend

Wow!  I didn't realize how depressing my last weeks of posts have been until I sat down and reread them all at once last night.  I'm thinking some of you may be wondering how this whiny girl (okay almost old woman) is going to handle having 4 kids.  If not, I'll admit I do sometimes wonder myself...

And the main answer is my husband.  

Wednesday after I got news about my grandma he came home early, took me to lunch, and let me rest.  Thursday was out to dinner and to a park.
Friday was SnapDragon's school field trip.  The best kind of field trip...a play where we all ride the bus together and sit still in seats and ride the bus way to lose someone else's child and lots of cuddling with my child.  So my husband stayed home with Sunflower just so I could go.  While I was there he cleaned and did laundry all morning...stuff I should have done on Thursday.

In the afternoon he took Huckleberry and Sunflower kayaking and fishing while I was able to nap and watch SnapDragon play video games.  They even caught a fish and came home and ate it for dinner without my house ending up smelling like fish!

The weekend was more of the same.  He carpooled Huckleberry to his Saturday robotics practice while I was able to go on a photoshoot with my friends and out to lunch.  We watched Mr. Poppins Penguins as a family...a pretty cute movie really.

Sunday church and then we all deep cleaned the inside of the car...all 5 of was that bad.  Now I won't be embarrassed with my kids' aunts are driving it around in a few weeks.  Then the kids favorite park and dinner out.
So all the eating out isn't doing great things for our budget and our yard is not always neat and tidy, but this family will never doubt that this man loves them.
 I know love alone isn't enough, but it sure is a fantastic foundation.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good Bye, Grandma

Last Wednesday we celebrated my grandma's (on my Dad's side) 93rd birthday.
 We all had a great time.
The ladies at the adult family home my grandma was living in put on a delicious feast.
It was very festive with lots of laughter.  As usual we teased Grandma that she couldn't claim to be old until she hit at least 96...93 was only late middle age!  She always laughed at my jokes, even when she didn't understand them.
 But today my grandma died.  I am thankful for that last big party.*
After all, how many times do you get to see a wonderful lady blow out candles on their 93rd birthday ('cause lets face is a little old.)
All of us will miss her.  She was very excited to be finally meeting our new little one after 6 years of waiting with us.
She was the one that my siblings and cousins and I took turns spending the night at her house.  She always brought Ding Dongs for the ones left behind.  She'd take us for ice cream and walk half way to the bottom of the falls (I was at least 10 before I realized we were going about 1/2 mile and the bottom was only 3/4 mile down...but she said her knees...)  She'd buy us rock candy and took me to my cousin's horse shows.
I remember falling out of her car on the way home from church on one of my weekend visits because I'd unlatched everything...I just bounced.  After college I would take my laundry to her house and sit and watch Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and the Hallmark movie of the week while she did it for me.  (I'd been doing my own laundry since about age 8, so it was a real treat.  I'd try to help but she'd say...No.  This is what Grandmas are for!)

After I got married we would still pop on over whenever we could for a visit.  She always liked "Oak" better than my other boyfriends, she would say.  It meant a dinner out to KFC or depending on her mood Tony Romas.  Again she wouldn't let us pay...That is what being a Grandma is all about!

As the kids came we visited a little less often and gave her a little more notice of our coming, but we did see her as much as we could.  The kids thought of her as the Grandma with the dog and the fried chicken.  She'd give Oak $20 to go pick it up as she became less comfortable going out.

It has been only about a year since she stopped living on her own.  My aunt and dad finally settled her in a lovely adult family home with a "Sunflower" of their own.  We would still visit...and Minda (the home owner) would feed us.  Grandma was happy and comfortable there.

We thought she would live many, many more years.  93 is so very young.
We feel quite surprised and sad.  Yet very, very blessed to have such a wonderful grandmother in our lives for such a very long time.  Grandma, we will miss you.

*Though we had visited her only a few weeks before and IF we'd been in China my sister who hadn't seen her in 2 1/2 years would have been here for the party...but...

He Goes Before

There are a lot of blog posts swirling in my head and heart that I have not written.  I'd like to claim it was lack of time and good priorities, but that would not be true.  It has a little more to do with the fact that in the evening it is really easy to switch from reading blogs, to words with friends, to facebook, to Bejeweled Blitz, and back again on the iPad...but it is not easy to type or blog.  And for some reason my husband will not let me claim both the iPad and the laptop as my electronic device of choice...leaving him with nothing.  So I play games and don't write my blog posts.

In theory that is fine.  Who is to say one form of self-indulgent pleasure is better than the other?  In practice I really do need to get some of these thoughts I can remember, process, and move forward.  It is what my blog is to me...a place to process.  It also used to be a place where I was funny...but I seemed to have lost my funny bone.


The truth is...I am mad at God right now.  Yes, it is my agency that would NOT LET US travel until May 2nd...but my heart says God could have done something about that...and He did not.

Yes, truth says God is in control.  His timing is perfect. He will work all things to good for those who love Him.  So I need to write truth, pray truth, speak truth and trust Him so my heart believes again.  I can pray "Lord, help me with my unbelief" and He will fact, most days I'm fine but...

Somedays I'm mad, sad, and not fine.  Today isn't even one of the worst days.  But one of the phrases I keep being "comforted" with is driving me nuts!  Sometimes we just need sympathy not a reminder of truth...sometimes we need to be kicked in the behind with the truth...but...sometimes a hug is better...

But I am beginning to hate the phrase "everything happens for a reason."

While I believe "everything happens for a reason" is true, I also believe sometimes that reason is because we are suffering the consequences of our failure or someone else's sin and hard heart.  Sometimes the ideal does not occur.  Sometimes I'm cranky for a reason...yeah the reason being that I chose to stay up late last night doing nothing not because God ordained me to have a cranky day.

So maybe we are not going to get Sweet Pea yet because we will get to travel with my new as yet unknown best friend. Maybe the reason is we will be in Jiangxi with some amazing people (some of which I have started making connections with on-line) and God designed those meetings for a reason.  Maybe my fellow August LID who has a baby in Yugan SWI will get her TA in time that we will pick up our babies together.  Maybe...

or Maybe the reason we are not going now when it would be most convenient for our family, where my sister would be here to say one last good-bye to my grandma, where my baby would spend 5 less weeks in an orphanage is because a person in China didn't want to do the work and the finagling to let us go with the March 28th group or any time between March and May 2nd.

So feel free to remind me of God's promise that "we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28 but stop telling me that "everything happens for a reason" because honestly I think sometimes those reasons suck.

(I wasn't too fond of the "Why would you pay for an update?  God has all the answers!"  But most have the brains not to say that!)

Now when the psalmists would start to feel despair they would list those things they have seen that show God's love and faithfulness.  Love and faithfulness He has shown me over and over.  So here is one of those stories in my life because I don't want you to think that because I am mad at God I have forgotten who He is.

About a year and a half ago there was a LOT of discussion on Rumor Queen about how much diversity in our life is enough.  We live in a fairly diverse area...more than 50% of my children's schools are minorities...but one point I started worrying about was role models.  Most of the adult role models in our lives are Caucasian.  So as I was driving the kids to the dentist I was praying.

"Lord, we love our dentist.  It is a nice office, it is specifically pediatric dental so they actually know how to work with kids, it is close, it takes our insurance...BUT the dentist is a white male and the hygienists are all blond and beautiful.  I seriously feel out of place, how will my Chinese daughter feel?  There are a lot of Asian dentists around.  Should I switch dentists?  Would that be a good way to add more diversity?"

And I got to the office...and they were still close, excellent with children, and took our insurance, but the staff was more diverse and in the six months since our last visit our old dentist had sold his practice to a young Chinese woman...and she brought on an orthodontist partner...a Chinese male.  Both are very competent and sweet.  While I marveled at the changes I looked around the waiting room.  There was one other Caucasian family...and they were speaking Russian.  I'm not sure, but I'm not sure you could find a more diverse dental practice anywhere in the world.

So while I worried and wondered, God had already gone before me to provide.  I know He is continuing to do so.   

The impatient part of me just wants to know what He is doing right now.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!!!!!

It is easy, so easy, to get tangled up in the thorns of this life, to have our focus shifted from God to the troubles that entangle us.  (Okay, maybe not you, but certainly for me.)
But Christ died on the cross to free us from those entanglements, to give us hope, peace, and salvation.  When we fix our eyes on Jesus all the things grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
"He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven..."
Colossians 1:21-22

This Week

It seems like everyone is in China but us.  Last week knowing everyone was getting their travel acceptance and booking tickets for April was very, very hard.  This week, while I still struggle with anger at my agency, it is kind of exciting!  So many families are being formed this Easter weekend and in the upcoming weekends!  So many children who have been without their parents long enough will finally meet their family!

Obviously adoptions happen all the time, but these are people I "know" via my facebook groups and adoption forums.  It adds a little extra happiness to the process.  I love it.  It gives me something to do while I wait for our time to travel...less than 4 weeks away :)  We also got an update on Sweet Pea on Tuesday which was quite exciting...4 new pictures and the answers to several more questions.  Yeah!

I have had other things to do this week besides just follow other's travels.  The boys were home for Spring Break and though I hadn't planned ahead because I REALLY, REALLY thought we'd be in China, we did find ways to fill the week.  

MOPS and Bible Study, as usual.  Going out for ice cream (don't judge, but apparently we don't do that enough.  They thought it was the BEST THING EVER!)  Prairie Days at the Historical Society Museum.  My Grandma's 93rd birthday party.  The Pacific Science Museum.  Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  Dying Easter eggs with cousin L and Auntie J.  They're going Kayaking fishing this afternoon (which is when I'll finally have time to work on all the pictures I took this week!).  And then the best day of the year...Easter Sunday...because...

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!

We were talking to Sunflower about Easter and why we celebrate it, but she got very, very sad when we mentioned that Jesus died.

"But Jesus and God TAKES care of us?"

"Yes, and He died in order to take care of take care of our sin.  But then He rose again!  Now He lives!"

"Well, that is REALLY EXCITING!"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sunflower Games

I was going to post this sooner, but I was on the phone for 2 first internet friend play date.  Not quite the same as visiting Colorado, but nice, very nice.

Anyway, it is Spring break here, so Sunflower is very glad to have her two brothers home all day.  Right now they are outside playing in the sunshine.  

When Sunflower is not outside she has a few new games she likes to play.  One I love, but the boys don't.  It is called "Let's clean up!"

She comes into a room and says, "this room is a diiiiiisaaaaaaster!  Clean up!"  Then she cleans it up.  Yesterday she cleared off the table and set it for dinner before 4 p.m.  It was great!  The boys don't like it because I make them play it with her.

The other game is where she sings or dances for us.  I like the performance but when it is over she shouts "Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap!!!!!!"  Since her "l" sounds a lot more like an "r" I have to cringe at each word.  

A few weeks ago she got kicked out of Sunday school.  They thought she was shouting the word for a female dog and couldn't get her to stop.  It turns out she was trying to say "bench" and really wanted them to know it.  I told them I would not take responsibility for that word but I could not take the same moral high ground if she plays this new game at church.
Look at that face.  You wouldn't think she'd have such a foul mouth already.  I'd better go outside and enjoy the sun with my kids.  (We leave a month from today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)