Tuesday, March 31, 2009

That Thing You Do

Right now is one of those incredibly stressful times for me for multiple reasons, including, but in no means limited to the following: TOO MUCH WORK, transitioning the nonprofit, no idea where we are moving to and when exactly, school work and not making the progress I want on the research component, homework for my classes in school that never seems to end, lack of exercise, and on and on. Pleasant, huh?! I honestly try not to be a negative nelly, so I am sitting here trying to decompress and I am thinking of a humorous aspect of each of my family members that makes me smile.

Shenzy: She gives ear massages. Ever heard of this speciality? Neither had we, but she is a riot and it is not uncommon for her to be giving D an ear massage as she stands on her bed during prayer time, totally focused on her task at hand and oblivious to the oddity of this behavior. She looks like a professional and takes her task very seriously. She invented this, but it cracks me up every time I picture her doing this to him. She is the most passionate child when it comes to her love and she freely shares it with D and I and we are very blessed to be the recipients of it. She is a pint-sized package of power and while she is definitely overwhelming at times, it is amazing how well she has bonded with us and loves us. She has phrases of an adult (clean ones...come on now) and is truly a riot to converse with, she is 4 going on 24!

Meesta: He is a neat pack rat. I can't even be frustrated with it because it is honestly funny. If you were to enter his room, it is often picture perfect - but that is the surface level picture. He has always been a bit of a pack-rat, but has so many clean aspects like the perfect bed he makes every day, his deal not necessarily ours. However, knowing we are moving soon, I have been trying to pitch and sort as I have some time and last Saturday was such a day and his room was the destination. I threw away almost 2 BAGS (large trash bags, mind you) of just junk that was below the surface...broken toys stuffed here and there, papers, and on and on. Just thinking of it makes me smile for some reason, the kid is a riot. When asked why he didn't just throw stuff away, he said he didn't know, he was usually just in a hurry - for that I blame MYSELF as I pretty much rush them to hurry up at least once a day. When he holds my hand, in public, I melt inside that my little man is still not embarrassed to do this, that makes my mouth and heart smile.

Doodle: Every time I think of her laugh I smile, the girl has an infectious laugh. She is starting to show her spunk and as much as I am disapproving of the homework tossing situation, it makes me smile that she is spunky enough and has the gumption to outright toss her homework, IN HER CLASSROOM. She is much more complex than she seems. One memory of her that always makes me smile is when we were walking into the airport after landing in Cambodia last summer, right after she has had one of her worst grand mal seizures as we were landing...during which Meesta also had an accident, she was more worried about him and was comforting him instead of having any concern for her own self and what she had just endured. Her heart is huge and she is just beautiful to look at, enough to make anyone smile:)

D: Just knowing he is by my side makes me smile. He makes everything right and is always trying to lighten my mood and knows how to make me smile. He gets me...and loves me anyway...and is my safe place always. I love to see him interacting with our kids, which is something I never had growing up, and it heals that spot in my heart just a bit each time. He is the best person I know and I am so blessed to have him, and for that, I smile!

There, therapy for free after 11 at night. Can't beat that, and I feel better and am just about ready to go to bed. I do ask for your prayers as our family waits for our placement with the church. Our move has hit me harder since I now know who will be moving into our house, kind of like an eviction notice and the panic of where we are going is rising in me like a flood. I know that I need to have faith and realize that we will get where we are supposed to go and that we will be blessed to meet all new people with unique personalities and interests that will enrich our lives, but now that it is here, it is a bit overwhelming. This is where my driven, type A personality is a handicap!

Life is this good and I need to remember it!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Trying Not to Judge

I found myself in a position where I was uncomfortable with my own thoughts. I was very judgmental.

Following the dental appointments of last week with Dr. G, she recommended that I get the kids a specific electric toothbrush. Well, I try to be compliant, so before dance class, we popped into our local CVS to get said toothbrushes. After weaving through the maze of about 12 bazillion choices (seriously, I know competition is good and all but way too many choices and options), I take my 3 cherubs and procured toothbrushes to the counter to pay. In line in front of me was a rail thin lady who had a little baby, probably 9 months old or so in her cart, sleep outfit on, no coat, but hat (v. chilly out that day). She was checking out her goods...a 24-case of Old Milwaukee beer and a 2-pack of pregnancy tests.

Here is where I began my judgemental process....uggghhh!!! Now, it could be that neither or only one of those purchases were intended for her consumption/use. Who knows? But me, I found myself judging her including where she lived, who the father was, how cared for this child was, what social services she was getting money from, and on and on... Shocking how quickly and how in depth I took my little mental judgemental tirade in the span of a minute or two, but I did.

By admitting this, I am hopeful that I will try to stop myself the next time I head down this path. Hopefully, this lady was not both pregnant and intent on downing the case of beer. Hopefully the child she had already is well cared for and the lack of a coat on a chilly day was an oversight. Hopefully she is capable of supporting herself or her partner is supporting his family. Hopefully there is love and stability and the snapshot of the purchases actually speaks nothing of the situation.

Working on myself all the time, I am not to judge as I do not wish for others to judge me!!

I am a work in progress...


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy 8th Doodle and Meesta!!

I would never have believed anyone who told me just how in love I would be when I held our children for the first time. It is an experience and emotion that is beyond words. We met and bonded for 3 weeks with our Doodle and Meesta during this time 7 years ago. This note is my reminiscing about that time...7 years ago right now.

Our story had begun to unfold a year before this when we had had enough of negative pregnancy tests (should have bought stock) and decided to proceed with our intentions to adopt internationally whether we had a bio child or not. We sent off an application, filled out immense and intruding volumes of paperwork and sent more money than we had off to various agencies and offices, and prayed that God would give us the child meant for our family. Fast forward several months and on October 20, 2001, we were given the referral of the most amazing and awesome baby girl living in an orphanage in Cambodia. We accepted her sight unseen and could not have been happier. Eleven days later, I received a phone call on October 31, 2001 from our adoption agency and she asked if I was sitting down. I immediately panicked and was worried something was wrong half way around the world. I was reassured that Doodle was fine, but they had news to share...the paperwork had been mixed up (and from everything we learned later, this is no surprise) and our daughter had a twin brother. She wanted to know whether we would want to accept his referral as well because if not, then they wanted to try to find a family that would take them both so they could stay together. Well, fortunately, we had applied to adopt 2 children anyway (God is in control...), and without any consultation with my darling husband, I start crying and tell her OF COURSE!!!! She said she would send over Meesta's picture and information...the torture was waiting to contact D and for him to get to a computer so we could both open the picture at the same time. We did and fell instantly in love with a rather unhappy and somewhat unhealthy looking baby boy who became our Meesta.

Two short months later, our dream of becoming their parents was slowed by the US government and their issuance of a moratorium on all adoptions from Cambodia due to the very greedy, sneaky and unethical actions by several. They essentially told all parents waiting to adopt from there to try another country...bu bye... Well, we did not go away quite so easily and I think they were shocked by the outrage and persistance of this group of amazing and unique families as we used the internet as a tool to bond, lobby, and eventually secure the finalization of most of our adoptions through simple persistance, annoyance, hard work, and I know prayer. We even marched in Washington D.C.!

During this waiting time, we were seeing movement and were even told that we were in "Group 2" so our adoption was going to be investigated (serious allegations of child trafficking in what was the Wild West of Adoptions in Cambodia so we were to understand). We made the decision to take leaves of absences from our jobs if needed, paid our bills for 3 months, and to take off to spend our children's first birthday with them, March 18, 2002. It was to change our lives forever. Seeing the poverty of Cambodia was humbling and in many ways made me ashamed of my life back in the States, we had so much and these people had so very little, at least materially and often times basic needs-wise as well. So unfair when the only difference happened to be where we were born. I am happy to report though that after traveling back to Cambodia now for almost 7 years now, things are improving! But, I digress...Our 3 weeks in Cambodia with our children were overwhelming as we tried to acclimate to becoming parents to these almost year-old babies who did not understand us, know our smell, and we did not know their ways - what they liked, didn't like, how to comfort them, make them laugh... All of this while in an unknown culture halfway from our comfort zone. To say it was a growing experience is an understatement. It was also a strengthening time for D and I as we tacked situations over this entire process that could have left "us" in ruins if we didn't have such a good friendship in addition to the love. In just 3 short weeks, we moved a couple of times, from the nice nice Micasa - to a guest house where we were staying next door to a mercinary (not kidding) who was tracking down Khmer Rouge fighters in the jungles and laying on a mattress on the floor with an AC unit that literally was blowing ants on us if we turned it on. The kitchen in this guest house...let's just say we never ate anything coming out of there...and the cats outside that called lustfully all night...it was more than I could handle. We moved then into the Golden Gate and all was well.

We celebrated the twins' birthday back at the Micasa in the room of another adoptive family and the room was full of other adoptive parents we had met online with their kiddos. It was one of those moments I will never in my entire life forget. Our family couldn't be with us to celebrate this, but this new group had become a family and were there to help us celebrate. What fun and sadness all at the same time. As by this point, we knew our case was not going to be reviewed within the next 3 months and therefore we knew we were going to have to go back home to Indiana, without our children. I will never regret going and bonding with our kids during this time. It was hell taking them back to the orphanage to leave them (we had returned a few times to keep the kids acclamated just in case this happened). I can't recall another situation in my life where my heart literally hurt like this and hope I never do again. The pond that was about 20 feet from where our children were in the open-air orphanage with stairs down to it was a constant nightmare for me over the next 6 months while we waited for the call to come back. When we left they were getting pretty mobile and I had horrible images of them being curious and crawling away and drowning. We left on an airplane with a few other families whose adoptions had been completed and they were going home WITH their children, not easy for us. The hug I received from Rachel, one of the moms flying home that I had come to know over the internet was truly one of the best and most sincere hugs I had ever felt, I will remember it always.

But after being there with them, there was no government in the world that could have kept us from our children. We would have moved to Cambodia if that is what it required, but fortunately it did not come to that. I definitely left my heart in Cambodia in April 2002...came home and proceeded to gain about 50 pounds...but was able to return to finally bring home Meesta and Doodle forever. They were indeed worth the fight and I adore them and who they are and who they are becoming. It is an honor to be their mom and as we mark their 8th birthday, I stand in awe of how far we have come as a family. It has been an honor and 97% joy with 3% challenges raising them over the last almost 7 years (or more like 80/s0...). I am grateful for the gift God has given us in these amazing little people. They are beautiful little people and we love love LOVE being their forever mom and dad. Happy 8th Birthday Babes!!!

Love, Mom

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Remember That Time in Second Grade...

Prepare yourself for the understatement of the century, PARENTING. IS. HARD.

Okay, so my last post told you all of our struggles with Doodle and math, yadda yadda. Well, I went back, reread it and still agree with most of it. Here's how the last few days have played out...

Doodle had her math test last Friday, and guess what, she got 100%!!!!! We worked so hard and she tried so hard and it paid off, awesome! We even went out to Thai to celebrate, but were v. disappointed to find out that our favorite local Thai restaurant had gone out of business, big bummer. Oops, I digress.... so, worked hard = success, although she was taken aside by the teacher and while Doodle did all of the work herself, I believe there were mild prompts by the teacher. Nice weekend is had by all.

Monday afternoon, pre-scheduled meeting with the teacher to determine how she is falling so behind in math. The long and the short of it all is that Doodle is a bit more, um, shall we say, astute, in playing us all than I would have EVER guessed. Without going into the gory details, the bottom line is that we had no idea what she was working on in math because she was LYING about what homework she had to do on her assignment sheet that we sign EVERY NIGHT and was saying she only had to do math facts. AND, as if that little fact was not enough, the homework that she was supposed to be doing every other night, she was THROWING IT AWAY..IN THE TRASH..IN HER CLASSROOM. You could have blown me away with a feather I was so surprised. This is why she was so lost in math and why we were so lost as to what was going on in her class for math.

When brought into the room with mom, dad and the teacher, the kid had to fess up. You could tell she was rather terrified, but she did not break down. We got into the details, at least to the greatest extent that we are likely going to get, as to why later. I made her apologize to the teacher for being dishonest and we are dealing with the rest at home. I asked her why and she said she just had too much homework. I think that translates into two things, the homework is hard and I don't want to do it and I just want to play.

Now, the other aspect of this is that I think our girl has a learning challenge, likely dyslexia, but that is not confirmed. The new Indiana law is that they must undergo a variety of interventions first and then, the school will test them. I informed the teacher last night that it was time for testing, we have played along, but she gets quite a bit of individual attention in this classroom and so her other grades are decent, but without that individual attention, I don't think they would be as good. She just learns differently and requires more 1X1 time. I told the teacher we would pay and have the testing done and get this....the school will NOT ACCEPT IT. I have a master's degree in clinical psychology, I used to be a neuropsychometrist...I know that a licensed psychologist - in coordination with a neuropsychometrist would conduct the appropriate, and perhaps even more detailed assessment of our child and that the school should be grateful that we are concerned, we care, are willing to pay, etc. I could go on and on!

Anyway, we are trying to get everything in place so we don't have to start from square one with her in a new school system this fall, as we are very likely moving in June...!

All of this to state, our Doodle is much more creative and daring than we have given her credit for in the past. The child strapped them on and did as she pleased. She figured out the teacher was not really seeing what she wrote down nor was she checking, nothing was being said by the teacher about her not turning in math homework, and so this was working out for her, sort of.

Our trust has indeed been shattered for a good while and she will have to regain that over time. But, I am hoping that we can laugh about this in the future and joke about that time in second grade when Doodle threw her homework away...

Life is still THIS GOOD,

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Computer Time and Family Happenings

I wish I could be grounded from the computer. I calculated that yesterday, Wednesday, I was literally on the computer approximately 12 hours. That is just too much, and I don't think that more than 30 minutes were from fun. Ugghhh. It is no wonder that I struggle to get enough (okay, who am I kidding...ANY) exercise lately!

Work is very intense right now, lots of projects and lots of responsibility - but I am not complaining, I have a great job and I like it. Nuff said.

Eating has been wretched since everyone here was sick as could be. I have such a trend of doing well, getting on a roll and then when something happens to throw me off the path, it takes me far too long to get back on that roll. Lesson to self - every bite is an opportunity to do things the right and healthy way!

School is back, Quarter 6 has begun and it will be a busy one. One class involves nonprofit finance and budgeting - not my forte'.

Doodle is struggling mightily with school, specifically math. The reasons are numerous and I am very frustrated about it all. The thing is, I am falling even more madly in love of this kid and I am respecting her determination. We are working very closely together for HOURS every evening and she is just hanging in there and truly trying. I would have long before given up and cried out of frustration and while we have both been close to this once, she has so earned my admiration and respect for her efforts. It is so easy to forget the challenges she has faced in her little life because she is such a joy all of the time, but at times like this I have to remind myself to step back and see how far she has come in her almost 8 years of life (not that her math struggles make her less of a joy). She was born into an orphan life in a third world country, survived that with the most pleasant of personalities, and then had the next kick with having epilepsy. Seriously, she could use a break. But, D and I will not give up, she is a smart kiddo and has the biggest heart and best personality and is such a great little person. We will make it work, one way or another. I need to pray about this more...

OHHHH, how could I forget, this week D passed a HUGE hurdle within his path to becoming a Navy chaplain!!!!!! I am so incredibly proud of him and am glad that others are seeing just how attune to God's will he seems to be and how meant for this journey he truly is. What this means for us as a family is that we very likely will be moving somewhere (who knows where) within our state likely in June... Now, while this causes me some angst, it is still a very good thing!

I think that I am doing better at praying for God's will...and not my wants, but man is that a struggle. Does this mean that I am SLOWLY growing spiritually? I hope so as I have felt very stagnant while D has been in seminary.

Wishing all the best as the weather finally starts to warm up around here - so refreshing!