Monday, April 29, 2013

"Stuck"...the Documentary, on Tour.

Karl and I went to see a documentary called "Stuck" last night. It's a great film, and I highly recommend it for anyone with heart for children...which I'll bet, is every single person I know. 
The film's producer, Craig Juntunen is visiting over 60 cities across the U.S... next month, he will finish the tour in Washington DC by delivering a petition to congress. He is doing whatever he can to make a difference. Please consider watching it here  

There are parts of the adoption process that I really can't bear to think about because they terrify me. Jamie, Henry and Rosie are so much a part of us, that the idea that we could have never met is unimaginable. I can't bear to think about those times when they were alone, scared, and sick...and most tragically, a time in their young lives when they didn't belong to anyone. 
Nothing frightens me more. 
But one thing that comes close is remembering those kids who are still stuck waiting in orphanages. 

When I was able to travel to Ethiopia to meet Rosie at her orphanage, a little girl about 5 years old politely introduced herself to me and asked if I could be her mama. This little girl knew exactly what she needed... parents, and she was doing whatever she could to find one. 
To her it was very simple. 
She needed a mother and I looked like one. 
And she was absolutely right. It really is simple...children need parents. 
For no good reason, international adoptions have declined drastically over the past five years. Thousands of children have been denied the love of a family for no good reason. Thousands of  parents have been told that they may not adopt an orphan for no good reason. Wonderful men and women who are anxious and willing to love any child who needs them are being told that this can't happen.
Our Rosie, waiting for us in Ethiopia.
Signing a petition to ask that the United States proactively work to remove the barriers of international adoption seems like a small thing to do, but it's a beginning. Adoption is a tremendous act of love. Love is something that starts quite small, but grows larger and stronger. This petition will also grow stronger with each signature. In honor of those children waiting for parents of their own, please sign and share.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Patience is Painful.

 Rosie is always very anxious to go, go go.
But sometimes she really must wait.
And be patient.
Which is downright painful for her...
I didn't realize just how it felt until the other day when, in anguish and despair, after being told once again to be patient, she expressed herself quite nicely from across a parking lot...

"Don't tell me to be PATIENT because I don't like PATIENT at all.
It makes my brain all ITCHY and my body think MEAN THINGS!"

I like that her body thinks about being mean, while her brain just gets itchy.

I know just how she feels.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mr. Imwalle, Baseball and a Best Buddy.

Mr. Imwalle, his dear fiancee Lauren, and two very happy boys.
As a generous means of raising money for the school, Jamie's cool math teacher offered himself and his very supportive fiancee up for auction. Mr. Imwalle willingly, and rather happily, agreed to take a 4th grade student and his pal to a Reds game.
(as long as he could bring his dear fiancee, Lauren along)
When Jamie heard of this offering, he was very much in it to win it. He asked me to "bid often and high" to ensure that he was the lucky auction winner.
(not sure where he got the hip auction lingo- but he loved throwing it around) 
I don't think there could be anything more glamorous and exciting then spending the afternoon at a Reds game with your best pal, your math teacher and his beautiful fiancee.
  Jamie and his buddy (and fellow math student) couldn't wait for the day to begin which put us at the ballpark early enough to take many cool photos pretending to get beaned by historic ball players. 
 I thought that spending three hours together at a Reds game would be a perfect chance to brush up on the math facts, but Mr. Imwalle proved his solid understanding of 10 year old boys,
and chose not to practice facts, and instead took some great photos.
 The best part of the day?
Extra innings!
While the Reds did indeed win, it took them 4 extra innings before they could blast the tall stacks. 
I really believe that the true hero of the afternoon is sweet Lauren who very much deserves a very nice dinner out. Multiple hours of boys, baseball and cheese coneys should be seen as a rigorous and extreme premarital test for any woman, no matter how strong and cheerful she might be.
Thank you Mr. Imwalle and Miss Lauren for a great day these guys will remember forever... you are both truly terrific!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Our Fireball turns Five!

After day of personal birthday fanfare, Rosie is now a girl of five.

She had a great day that began by having breakfast in a crown made of pink construction paper and ended with her in bed, but fighting like crazy to keep her eyes open.
"When I fall asleep, my birthday will be over."
(the birthday truth is painful sometimes)
We compromised by reading her new birthday books until her five year old eyes betrayed her and she couldn't keep them open for another second, not even for Llama, Llama Learns to Share.
(spoiler alert...Llama does indeed, learn to share)
The highlight of her day was being in charge of my birthday brownies at snack seems that
my girl appreciates the power of brownies.
And also planning a shopping trip with the birthday money from her Grandma...
"I want to buy cute shoes and chocolate ice cream."
(she is so much like you, Anna)
Happy Birthday to my dear Little Fireball- you are much loved!
birthday morning breakfast crown

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Alligator Snuggles!

During our Florida visit, the kids found a nice gentleman in a mall who would let them hug his 'gator for two dollars a person, if you could convince your mom that it was worth it. 
What a bargain!
How often do you come across an alligator at the mall? 
The gator man thoughtfully allowed each kid to first put a towel over their shoulders...not sure if this was so that the sweet gator would feel a bit more cozy and comfortable or to protect their clothes in case the 'gator pooped.
Either way it made them look as though they were being inducted into a
bizarre alligator hugging swamp-cult.
Swampcult 'gator hugger, Jamie.
Hugger Henry.
Who would have guessed that Lily would be the most comfortable snuggling her new pal?
Both girl and 'gator appear to be delighted with each other...Lily looks like she could move into the swamp tomorrow and be quite happy with her new digs.
Both the sweet alligator and I were a little concerned that Rosie would get nervous and let go, but she was just fine while her buddy squirmed a bit in reptilian anxiety.
I guess it will take more than a few wiggles to make this tough little girl nervous enough to drop her 'gator. 
The alligator's handler fellow/dad told Jamie that if he held him very close to the camera, he would look very big and freaky-cool.
He was absolutely correct and Jamie really benefited from his years of experience posing with alligators.
Thank you dear alligator for not biting or pooping on my are by far the fairest and loveliest creature in the swamp!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Meet Cute in the Friendly Skies.

Rosie and Handsome Stranger sharing earbuds and a film.
On the final leg home from our spring break trip to Florida, Rosie found herself sitting with her weary, but tolerant sister to her right, and a handsome stranger to her left. She was thrilled. I was sitting in front of her and enjoyed eavesdropping on the backseat conversation.
Handsome stranger broke the ice by asking her if she needed help with her seat belt. He offered assistance because she was pretend struggling with it- she is a Houdini with all things seat belty, but was faking extreme difficulty to alarm me.
I chose to ignore her, and he offered to help.
So she backtracked and then over explained to Handsome Stranger how she had no problem with the seat belt AT ALL, but just liked "flipping the clicky thing" on the belt which made him ask....
"weren't you the girl who really had to go to the bathroom on the other plane?"
(Rosie had a bathroom emergency during our descent and was very vocal about sharing her needs)
While you would think that being correctly identified as the loud girl who had to pee would be a little embarrassing, Rosie was flattered to be recognized.
"Oh yes, that was me... I had to tinkle so badly I almost wet my pants!"
   Handsome stranger then asked if she went to the bathroom before she got on this plane, which was a good and practical question from an airplane neighbor.
"Yes I did- and do you like doughnuts?"
(her thoughtful, though peculiar, reply)
And so began their entertaining two hour conversation...
Happily, Rosie's new friend was the chatty type and seemed very ok with having a younger lady hang on his every word. He even rewarded her with the ultimate compliment when he told her that he thought she was older because "you really do talk a lot."
To this, she told him she would soon be five and then introduced Lily, mentioning that she was 12 and proudly pointed out that she was "wearing lovely braces." 
Clearly she was doing whatever she could to come across as a mature and sophisticated lady and apparently it was working...when they seemed too quiet, I peeked back to check to see the two watching an iPad movie together.
Rosie had one earbud and Handsome Stranger the other.
Well played, Miss Rosie. 

Which reminded me of another sweet duo who met similarly and just celebrated their
first wedding anniversary together.
Happy Anniversary Carly and Marc,
a couple with the very best and by far most romantic meet cute ever.

Wishing you a lifetime of friendly skies together.

(footnote- while my pal Carly did indeed meet her future husband by sitting next to him on a flight,  she was far more demure with her bathroom habits than my Rosie...most folks are)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hard. But not impossible.

For lent, Henry decided to give up candy.
We aren't Catholic, and lenten sacrifices aren't something that our family participates in, so I asked him why he chose to give up something that he liked so much.
"That's the point," he said "it would be easy to give up something easy, you are supposed to give up something hard." 

And so he honored that promise and for 40 days he declined candy...I overheard him telling one of his buddies "no thanks, gave up candy for lent," when offered some Reece's Pieces and couldn't believe my ears. 
On Easter Sunday, as he was happily munching away on all of the candy that he had saved since early February, I asked him what the toughest part of sticking it out...
"It was really hard during the Easter egg hunt at school when I was hungry and I found some of those little Hershey eggs... I wanted them so badly, but didn't want to blow it, so I had to distract myself from the chocolate. 
It was hard but not impossible" 
The Easter morning payoff...
40 days worth of saved treats, including all of the sweet Valentine's chocolate saved for the happy day. 
Well earned, Hank. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Carry On Warrior, by Glennn Melton

A very young, very angry, Jamie.
I could have definitely used Glennon's a few more cherished moments of Kairos.

This is one of my favorite pieces ever written about being a mom. It was written by Glennon Melton,  early last year and shared by thousands. I sent it to some of my favorite mom pals and apparently many others did also.
One friend says that she keeps this post handy on her desktop reads it every few days. 
 It's good stuff.
Happily, Ms.Melton has collected her words of wisdom in her first book...
Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed.
It is being released today...I have it pre-ordered and am anxiously waiting to get my hands on it. 
  This Thursday April 4th, Glennon Melton will be in Cincinnati discussing and signing her new book. 
Catch her at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.
and here is her blog.
As I mentioned...Really Good Stuff.
 Don't Carpe Diem
Glennon Melton
January 14, 2012

Every time I'm out with my kids -- this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, "Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast."
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn't work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life - while I'm raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I'm not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: "Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast."

At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn't find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, "Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you."

That's not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, "No. but I love having written." What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, "Are you sure? Are you sure you don't mean you love having parented?"
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I'm being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times -- G, if you can't handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?

That one always stings, and I don't think it's quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it's hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she's not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn't add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it's so hard means she IS doing it her own way...and she happens to be honest.

Craig is a software salesman. It's a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don't ever feel the need to suggest that he's not doing it right, or that he's negative for noticing that it's hard, or that maybe he shouldn't even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he's ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: "This career goes by so fast...ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!"

My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn't enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn't in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn't MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I'd wake up and the kids would be gone, and I'd be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.

But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here's what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
"It's helluva hard, isn't it? You're a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She's my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime." And hopefully, every once in a while, I'll add -- "Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up -- I'll have them bring your groceries out."

Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn't work for me. I can't even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.

Here's what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It's regular time, it's one minute at a time, it's staring down the clock till bedtime time, it's ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it's four screaming minutes in time out time, it's two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there's Kairos time. Kairos is God's time. It's time outside of time. It's metaphysical time. It's those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I'm doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can't hear her because all I can think is -- This is the first time I've really seen Tish all day, and my God -- she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I'm stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I'm haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I'm transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I'll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world's mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don't remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.
Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.
Good enough for me.
Glennon Melton 
January 14, 2012