Friday, September 25, 2009

Favorite Picture Ever

I somehow managed to snap this amazing candid picture today of our pretty ballerinas. This is my current "favorite picture ever".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I'm Excited About Now

Big Bear has now discovered that she can actually still get out of her bed after she has been put to bed for the night. Tonight, after I put her to bed I heard the door to her room eek out its telltale creaking sound. I went down the hall and found her standing there in the dark looking up at me with a half-startled sheepish grin on her face. We discussed how there would be unpleasant consequences if she got out of bed again (note: this is not the first time she has exercised this new-found freedom). I put her back in bed and headed off to take a shower only to hear the now infamous creak a second time. After doling out the promised "unpleasant consequences", I sat her on my lap and asked her why she was getting out of bed. She said she was "looking for Mommy." It occurred to me at that moment that all she wanted to do was be with me. I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I usually do because of various things that went on today and it appears she must have missed me. This should have been obvious but it took me pausing long enough to realize that she wasn't necessarily trying to defy me. She just wanted time. I still find it a bit incredulous that this little girl really has accepted me as her mom and loves me and wants to be with me. That's a pretty neat miracle. After I showered, we sat together on the floor of my bathroom and painted her toenails for the first time. It was an absolutely precious Mom moment (one that made me glad I didn't hold out any longer for the non-toxic nail polish I read about but can't seem to find...I'm sure she'll live). It made me appreciate how valuable one-on-one experiences are with children. Junia was ECSTATIC about her new nails. When we finished, she looked at me with the widest eyes and said "Show Daddy!"

Junia is just one of the many precious children out there who needed nothing more than a home and a family to love her. That's why I am so excited about Orphan Sunday. This annual national (and now international) event seeks to raise awareness about the orphan crisis. I have been praying about how I can do more to be involved with the Bigger Picture as it relates to orphan relief. I decided to write a short email to my pastor encouraging him to consider highlighting Orphan Sunday on November 8th. Here is what I said:

Dear Pastor Mark,
We wanted to let you know about Orphan Sunday which is coming up on November 8th. This is a major annual event organized and endorsed by a variety of national Christian ministries. We are wondering if you might consider highlighting Orphan Sunday at CPC. The Orphan Sunday website offers a variety of suggestions for how churches can get involved (see links below to general website and also to link for church involvement). We would be open to helping organize anything you deemed appropriate that might help to raise awareness at CPC on November 8th regarding God's heart for orphan ministry. This also seems like a natural fit at CPC given that there are lots of adoptive families at CPC.

Feel free to contact me and we can discuss this if you feel it might be appropriate for CPC. (We really do promise to do all the work so as not to add anything extra to your already full plates!). Thanks for considering this!

Sarah and Davis (aka Junia and Eden's Mommy and Daddy)

If you attend a local church and care about the plight of orphans, consider asking the leaders of your congregation to join the chorus on November 8th as we stand together for the orphan. Feel free to use my email as a template! This is something easy that you can do to make a difference in the lives of orphans. It begins with raising awareness. Once people know how great the need is that exists today, they are often moved to respond and that is how children find forever families.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Things and Little Things

In the effort to reclaim some of my very limited free time here in Mamaland, I finally took the plunge and went over to the Dark Side. This was a huge change but now I will have more time and more money on my hands. At this point, it's the time I covet the most. Give me a few hours and the last thing I want to do is sit under a dryer at the salon. So, bye bye Blondie. A peripheral benefit is that now perhaps people will think the girls and I look more alike!

In addition to big things for me, we've been keeping up on the little things here on the home front. When we are home, we keep busy doing the laundry...

...eating yogurt....

...and occasionally resting in our hammock. Life is better with a little more Brown.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just for Fun - Chocolate Cherry Cake!

The Little Ladies LOVE to cook. Here are some fun "Photo Friday" pics from their latest culinary adventure - chocolate cherry cake. Yum. Yum.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rest in Peace, Dear Friend

Sunday morning we got a phone call telling us that a dear friend had passed away. She was only 31 but had struggled with numerous complications from diabetes her entire life. She left behind a five year old daughter. We grieve with and for her family. In doing so, I have been reflecting again about my own daughters and the circumstances that brought them to adoption. Adoption is necessarily a bittersweet reality. It is the joyful creation of a family but it is joy that is often birthed in sorrow as a mother must make the choice to give up her child. No child should have to grow up without a mother. And yet, my dear friend is gone and her little girl is now motherless. She is not alone. At least she has an adoring father and grandparents and friends and an entire support structure to make sure that she will have what she needs to navigate a life filled only with the fragrance of her mother's memory. In that regard, in a seemingly tragic situation, she is blessed.

In Africa, millions of children are motherless and have none of the benefits that my friend's little girl has. They are dependent on the kindness, the compassion, and the engagement of total strangers who are often on the other side of the world. They are looking for those who will embrace them and stand in the gap for the mothers who will not get the chance to raise them. Who will raise these children if we don't? So, as I now think about how I can do my part to stand in my friend's place and honor her memory by mothering her precious child as the need presents itself, I am reminded that I am doing that every day with the two little girls who share my life and whose birth mothers looked to strangers like me to do what they would never be able to do.

Rest in peace, sweet friend.

Do Something Now from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baby Mine

This is going to be a quick potluck post. A bit disjointed but still tasty I hope. Thanks to Zoe for giving me my first blogging award. I can't say I'm entirely sure what the award is about but I appreciate the vote of confidence! Zoe recently posted some interesting stuff about transracial families. It's worth a read. Check her out! Also, I continue to appreciate how CoffeeMom is sharing her struggles with adapting to the adoption of an older child (something we are seriously considering). It's nice to know we are not the only ones who have had some dark days when we find parenting very challenging!

Thankfully though, most days are pretty great. CoffeeMom talks about making a point to "mark the good". She reminds us that we need to make a point to record those precious moments we share together in our families. Tonight, we were able to mark the good after a long day for all of us. Davis and I came back from a much-needed date night of non-toddler-punctuated adult conversation and picked up the Little Ladies from our neighbor's house (Sidebar: If you aren't in a babysitting co-op, they rock!!!). We got them ready for bed and I did what I do every night. I sang them "The Baby Song". The Baby Song is actually the song that Dumbo's mom sings to him in the movie ("Baby mine, don't you cry. Rest your head close to my heart, never to part, baby of mine"). The girls LOVE this song. They even sing it to their dolls now and to each other - what of it they have picked up and can say. Tonight, I was sitting on the edge of Junia's bed wedged in the little space that was left near her pillow where the bedrail doesn't cover. As I was singing to her in the dark room, she sat up so she could get closer to me. First, it was her head on my lap. Then it was her arms around me and her head up on my shoulder. She kept moving around because she had to have been uncomfortable in so many strange positions as she tried to negotiate around the bedrail. It was almost as if she couldn't get close enough to me. As I sang into the darkness and listened to the girls breathe, I thought to myself, this is a sweet moment, one to remember and mark as good.

I will also mark this sweet moment today at the park as Little Bear climbed up the ladder and went down the slide over and over again to be "caught" each time by her big sister at the bottom who waited with delight to be knocked over each and every time she came down the slide. They were a pile of little girl giggles and it was good. I will mark this moment too.

Lastly, have you seen this promotional video? It's been on a lot of the blogs. I'm excited for this documentary. What an inspirational family!

Promo for "We Have Room" Documentary from David Watson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Tough Job

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this post on one of the darker days in Mamaland. I think it's important to share these moments too as being a mom - and an adoptive mom - is not all sweetness and light, as much as we all wish it were! And yet, even in the storm, God Is - watching over us, restoring us again.

I hate to keep coming back to the same point again lest I become an annoying, whiny blogger but being a mom is so hard! It's not like I hadn't heard this before we got the kids but it is a totally different thing to live your life with the additional identity of "parent" attached to yourself. On a particularly rough day last week, my Facebook update asked "How many times in the next 18 - or maybe 80 - years will I feel like a crappy mom?" It was amazing how many comments I got from other mama friends of mine who all cited their own experiences feeling like "crappy moms" with kids of various ages. If the comments of my friends are indicative of what the general mom-ulation experiences emotionally (I can really only comment on the mom-ulation as that's my crowd), many of us are having a hard time living up to our own expectations of what a "good mom" should be like. Add to that general societal pressures and expectations and you end up with enough guilt to go around for the whole lot of us. And then there's what we adoptive moms get to add to the growing pile...the fact that our children aren't biologically ours and, if your family looks like ours, everyone knows it. It's hard for me not to feel on "crappy mom days" like maybe I was never meant to be a mom. If your children are biologically yours, it is almost as if that serves to legitimize you as a mom on some level. Because you were capable of producing them, even if you may not be a great parent, you were still meant to have your children. With adoption, God makes the way for your adoption to come to fruition just like He does in creating a child in the womb but you have to take various purposed steps to make it happen. You have to choose to sign up to be a parent to someone else's biological kids thinking that on some planet somewhere you might - by God's grace - not be half-bad at the job (there are no rhythm-method oopsies in adoption). "Oops, honey. I guess we're adopting!" just does not happen in the adoption experience. So on the bad days, it's hard not to think to yourself "Maybe that social worker shouldn't have approved our homestudy." For me, I also wrestle with the fact that I am trying to raise another woman's birth child and honor her memory by doing my very best to stand in her place - doing what she will never have the opportunity to do as much as she would have coveted that chance. Sometimes I fall pretty short - at least in my own mind.

I was talking to a friend today who recently adopted Ethiopian twins about what it is like to be a transracial family out in public. I explained how I do not take my girls out in public without making sure that their hair is reshaped a bit (naps cause major "mushed 'fro") and that they at least have on something decent. I'm not fanatical about this, but it is certainly something I am aware of. I do this because I know that many people will be looking at us and at my girls in particular when we are out in public. In the African-American community, taking appropriate care of your children's hair is often taken as a sign of good parenting and love for one's children. The last thing I want to look like is some white mama who is clueless about how to care for her African-American children. I think this too, like my concerns about being a "crappy mom", comes down to additional issues of perceptions of legitimacy. Because everyone knows these children are not yours biologically, I think it's hard as a new adoptive mom not to feel like you have to make your case to outside world "See, I'm really a mom and I'm doing a good job." Hence, I probably spend a little more on their clothes than I need to (the fact that they are beyond cute doesn't help here either!) but in making sure they appear well-kept, I am able to demonstrate to a highly inquisitive and often judging public, at least on some level, that my children are loved. I guess in way that serves to help make me feel legit as a mom. I know I shouldn't care what others think but this is my life and it's the lives of my children and that is very personal. It's hard to blow off stuff that relates to whether or not others see you as a real family or not.

A friend reminded me on one of my low point days that Satan wants to attack the good work that God is doing in and through our family. I actually wrote about that in a blog post months ago but perhaps I need to be reminded of that now. By choosing to be a very public example of God's love, we as adoptive families are putting ourselves on the "front lines" in a spiritual battle against poverty, disease, injustice and apathy (among other things!). It gives me peace to know that when we feel tired and drained - whether it be from the day in-day out pragmatic struggles of parenting (i.e. did my eldest daughter really just have an accident on the floor and did my curious younger daughter really just run into the room to check out the action only to slip and fall, soaking herself in the yellow puddle?) or from the anxiety that comes with self-doubt about your role as mother, God is faithful. Last week, I came across this very familiar verse from Psalm 23 and was reminded again that God does restore our souls and give us the rejuvenation we need for this very unique journey.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul."

We continue to pray about whether or not to adopt again or have a birth child. I told Davis the other day that I really sense that there is going to be another child in our family. Davis asked me in response, "Well, what color is that child?" I told him that if you asked me today, the answer would be brown. So we continue to pray...

And speaking of sweetness and light...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Big Bear is a Preschooler!

Last night, we packed Junia's elephant backpack with a spare change of clothes, put out her new outfit (a cheap one that is cute but can get trashed) and got her all washed and moisturized for her big day today. The whole ritual made me feel so much like a mom because I so remember my own mom helping me pick out my outfit and hang it on the door the night before a school day. We didn't have to worry about setting an alarm since we have pretty much stopped using our alarm clock now that Big Bear is potty trained. It appears that her bladder is wired to go off at 6am - on the dot. This is quite the bummer given that in diaper days, she would sleep until at least 7, maybe 7:30 on a really delicious morning. Add to that the fact that she can now climb out of her bed herself and you have a recipe for one groggy Mommy and Daddy. Today was no exception.

Junia bounded into our room as she now does daily (at least this time she wasn't in full costume with pearls, a headband and a tutu on top of her pajamas like she was yesterday) ready to take on her first day as a preschooler. We managed to somehow cajole her into laying in between Mommy and Daddy so that we could eek out a few more cherished moments of "sleep". At some point, she decided to climb over me by delicately putting her knee on my throat (ouch). Once she got resettled on my side of the bed after a whole lot of squirming, I put my arms around her and was trying - in vain - to go back to sleep. The next thing I hear this quiet little voice says "I love you." I opened my eyes and looked into her big brown eyes looking right into mine. I said, "What?" thinking I might have misheard her. She just kept looking at me and said, "I love you". It was THE most precious thing ever - her first unsolicited, unprompted "I love you" and it was obvious she knew what it meant. I laughed and told her that I loved her too and that she had made my day.

We did somehow manage as a family to get everyone fed, scrubbed and dressed in time to be out the door by 8:45 for Junia's first big day at school. We were even able to snap some adorable pics of her with her cute little backpack (this is a miracle given our penchant for lateness these days). At one point while we were setting up to have a friend take a family picture, Eden went missing. I went back into the house only to find her coming down the hall barefoot with her giraffe backpack. I guess she didn't want to miss out on the fun.

When we got to school, Junia went right into her class and started checking out all of the stations loaded with interesting things for little people. She was carrying on a very involved conversation with someone on an official-looking red phone (Obama, maybe?) around the time we had to head off for work. People kept asking me if I was going to cry on her first day of preschool and I didn't really understand why they kept asking that. She was really happy to be there and if she's happy, then I'm happy. It seemed pretty simple to me, especially as the logical/rational type of person that I am. However, I must confess that I found myself strangely overwhelmed with emotion watching her pick up her backpack and hang it on the peg in her cubbie. I guess it just made it real that she is already moving toward a time when she will leave us and head out into the world on her own. Part of me wants to say "But wait! You just got here!" Davis and I hugged and kissed her goodbye in the midst of her call from the President and she waved goodbye to us with a beaming smile through the classroom window as we left her on her own for three long hours.

She came home chatting away all about a new friend she met - a boy that we aren't sure what his name is (I hope this won't become a trend!) and going on and on about how she didn't get to ride bikes today (the school has a bike track she was really looking forward to). So, it appears that our eldest child is going to survive the transition to preschool just fine. She appears to be thriving already. Little Bear seems to be having the hardest time of all because her best friend left her today and she isn't quite sure why. We continue to pray that God will bless the time they are apart as well as the time they are together.

On a final note: Here is one more reason I LOOOOOOVE preschool. The Little Ladies have been sleeping now for THREE AND A HALF hours with no sign of waking (hence this blog post!). I'm tempted to rouse them but what kind of crazy mama would do that when it is so QUIET around here?!

I love preschool.