Monday, June 11, 2012

The Things We Learn

We learn a lot of things from being a parent, and it's not just the things we expect. Sure we learn how to feed our kids, we learn how to take care of them, we learn how to sacrifice and put someone else's needs before our own. But we also learn other things, things I certainly didn't realize the importance of before I had kids.

It's a little different for everyone, but my guess is every parent has a list of things they've unexpectedly gotten to learn. For me, it started with the names of all the Thomas trains.

Yes, I can probably name every train in that picture without having to look them up.  My younger two were that obsessed.  (Luckily, the makers of these trains provide parents a built-in cheat sheet by printing the names on the bottoms of the trains themselves.  Someone is brilliant!)

I've also learned the names of quite a few of the Transformers.

I already knew the names of quite a few Transformers, but I've learned quite a few more.  We're still in the Transformers phase.

I've probably learned the most about dinosaurs.  Do you know how many different types there are?  Hundreds.  I certainly can't name them all, but you'd be surprised at how many I can name and identify.  Probably more than you've ever heard the names of.  And do you know how much more they've learned about them since we were kids?  It turns out Triceratops likely had feathers.

The other thing I've learned a ton about recently that I never expected to is sea creatures.  I already knew there were tons and tons of different kinds (and that they're always discovering more), but I never expected to be able to tell you so much about them.  This happens when your child is obsessed.  This is one of Spencer's current favorite creatures:

Those are cookiecutter sharks.  They're only about 20 inches long, but they can take huge, round bites out of the sides of much bigger creatures, like whales or dolphins (thus the name).  Spencer thinks they're awesome.  He wants to see one.  I don't know of any aquarium that has one, but if one does we might end up traveling however far it takes to see one.  Even though I don't think they're that impressive in person.  That's what happens when your kids are obsessed.  But hey, he's learning, I'm learning, his dad and brothers are learning, we take field trips to educational places on a regular basis, and the kids like it.  You can't get much better than that, right?

So, share with me.  What unexpected things have you learned about since becoming a parent?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Few Favorites

So, I'm struggling to come up with much to talk about. Some days words flow, other days not so much. At least when we were actively working on adoption stuff I could update on progress (or lack of it) on the slow days.

So, since I don't have much to say today, I thought I'd link to a few of my favorite adoption blogs. All these blogs are written by friends of mine. I love their hearts, and I love reading their words. I'm blessed to "know" them, and their words have lifted me numerous times.

First off, Julia adopted a little boy named Aaron from a mental institute in Eastern Europe. It was a hard road for their whole family, especially for Aaron. But he's been home for a while now (a year and a half, maybe?), and he's made amazing progress! Julia now spends her time shouting for those still waiting, and helping raise funds for the kids and the families coming to get them. She's awesome.

Secondly, Renee recently went to Eastern Europe to adopt her cute 6yo Emma. They were told she was in an institute and went expecting the worst. What they found surprised them -- the children were wonderfully cared for and cared about by the staff there. Unfortunately, since they are all physically handicapped in some way, there is no life for them in their country once they age out of this institute at 16. There are no wheelchair ramps or elevators, and therefore no place for them to live or work. These children need to come to a place where they have a chance. The director and staff are very protective of the kids there, but Renee and her husband made friends with them, and told them there were families who would love and care for these children. They took new pictures of the kids, and then Renee started blogging. She started telling the world about these kids, their personalities, and their amazing potential. Many of these kids had been listed for a long time and no one had ever inquired about them, but once Renee started blogging, and everyone started praying, miracles happened. Ten of the fourteen kids listed from that orphanage now have families coming for them, and hopefully the others will soon!

Last is Catherine. She's adopted a few times, most recently two little cuties from Eastern Europe. One has Aperts and one has arthrogryposis, and both have needed multiple surgeries, lots of therapy, and mostly lots and lots of love. Their family is a bit crazy, but Catherine tells it like it is. It's awesome. I'm pretty sure if we lived near them our kids would have a total blast being completely crazy together.

There are lots of other blogs I like to read as well, but those should keep you busy for quite some time, and I need to save something for the next time I can't come up with anything to write!

Friday, June 8, 2012


2 days in and I already missed a day. Oops. But life happens, you know? Like yesterday, when my 5yo decided to use pretty much an entire roll of toilet paper after he used the potty. And then when it didn't go down after the first flush, my 4yo decided to flush it again, and again, and again. I don't know how many times exactly, but enough to have an inch of standing water covering the bathroom floor, the carpet in the entire hallway soaked, and water dripping down through the ceiling. And they were upstairs by themselves for all of about 10 minutes.

So anyway, days like this sometimes make me stop and wonder what the heck I'm thinking when I want to add another kid. Aren't the ones I have enough? The truth is, yes. They are. If we never had another child the three we've got would fill up our days completely. There would be more than enough blessings and triumphs, pain and frustration. Life would be great many days, aggravating many days (probably the same days, most of the time). But the truth is, I could have (and would have) said the same thing if we'd stopped at just one child. There would have been both wonder and aggravation in hefty doses, and we would not have been lacking in things we needed to get done that we never quite had time for. I could have said the same thing after number 2, as well. But that doesn't mean I regret for an instant adding number 2 or number 3. The good moments more than make up for the bad ones.

And do you know what? My kids feel the same way. I don't think they ever wish, even for an instant, that they were an only child (though I suspect as they get older there probably will be a few of those moments). Even when they fight (and boy do they fight some days) they adore each other. Brothers are awesome built-in playmates. My kids are best friends, and it's wonderful. And because they love each other so much they are incredibly enthusiastic about more siblings (one day when I asked my 5yo told me he thought we should add 17 kids -- 10 and 7, though I don't remember now which was brothers and which was sisters -- either way I thought he might be going a bit overboard). And whoever we add to our family will be loved (probably stiflingly so), and have the best built-in playmates and best friends.

Which brings me to the reason for wanting to do all of this. It's not about me, it's not about my family. It's not because I have things so together I feel like I should take on more (anyone who actually knows me would laugh in your face if you suggested such a thing). It's not because I'm such a great parent I feel like I should pass my wisdom on to more kids (again with the laughing). It's because, as much as my life could be complete how things stand, there are so many kids out there whose lives aren't complete, and won't ever be unless people are willing to step up, leave their comfort zones, and take a chance. Our family would be fine as it stands, but theirs would not be. Though I'm sure the blessings will be multiplied on all sides, for all of us, if we're blessed to bring another little one home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Name Game

I don't know how many of you played The Game of Life growing up, but my sisters and I did.

We quite enjoyed it, but our house rules were a little interesting. They were many and myriad, but they all centered on one thing: getting as many children as you could. Note that this was not because we wanted to have lots of kids when we grew up (though I think maybe my little sister did want that). No, we played to get lots of children because we'd play with the families after the game itself ended. They had little houses right on the board, and cars, and places they could visit, etc.

Of course, before we could play with our Life families we had to determine the names and ages of the parents and all the children (there were usually about 12 each). I think this was actually our favorite part of the game (including the real game and the after game activities). It's certainly the activity we spent the longest on. We all loved getting to come up with names for all those kids! (This was the biggest reason we all tried to gather a lot of kids during the regular game play -- more people to name at the end!)

So I've been loving that recently the awesome lady who adds kids' listings on one of my favorite websites ( has decided to play the Name Game. I think it started because she was bemoaning trying to come up with more unique names (that haven't already been used on the site) one day (though I could be mis-remembering that). Then someone suggested a particular name that she loved be used for the next girl to be listed. Sure enough, a newly-listed girl was shortly named that.

Then someone suggested that we all pay for the privilege of naming the new little cuties who were listed. Reece's Rainbow collects lots of grants for families who are adopting and for children who are waiting to be adopted, but they also have a specific fund for administration costs (called the Voice of Hope -- it's used for server fees, printing costs, and to cover paypal fees for the donations given to the adopting families, among other things). That fund gets overlooked a lot of the time, so someone suggested that whoever wanted to name a child listed on Reece's Rainbow donate $10 to the Voice of Hope fund for the privilege.

And thus the Name Game was born. Now when Michelle posts that she has new little ones to list people scramble over each other to make a donation so they can be the lucky one to pick their name! (Apparently my sisters and I are far from alone in our fascination with names.) I've been wanting to do it, but I always seem to miss the times when she posts. Until yesterday. Finally, finally, I got to name one of the cute kids listed on RR!

Meet Cecily:

Isn't she precious? I love her little pigtails. I think she's adorable. Of course, I might be a little biased because I got to name her! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Love Without Fear

I'm sorry I've been absent for so long, yet again. I'm finding it so much harder to blog regularly when we're not moving forward. We are still praying and trying to figure out what God wants us to do. But, in the meantime, I'm going to try to be a better blogger. I managed a post every day for a month before. I'm not going to commit to that right now, mostly because we're leaving on vacation in less than 2 weeks and my computer time will be severely limited for the few weeks that we're gone. But I'm going to commit to a post every day until then, so for the next 10 days, come back often!

Now, this is a post I've been thinking about for quite a while. For the last 2.5 months, really, since "Brigitte" became unadoptable. To begin with, I grieved. It hurt to lose her, this little girl I was sure was my daughter. It hurt even more knowing she would never be adoptable, that she would never have a mommy and daddy. I've seen others compare the feelings to those you have when you miscarry, and I think the situations are very similar. And this was a late-term miscarriage. We'd been falling in love and preparing for her arrival for 6 months (and I'd fallen in love a year before), and had just 2.5 months until we were going to meet her. We were already making the plans for her arrival. Losing her hurt.

And that's the thing with loss -- it hurts. And as a human, one of your initial reactions is to draw in and close up upon yourself. After all, opening up your heart hurt, and we naturally don't want to let ourselves be hurt. So sometimes we try to protect our hearts by not letting anyone in.

I didn't want to do that, but that didn't mean the temptation wasn't there. It would be so easy to stop looking at little faces, stop praying about them, stop falling in love. If I don't care about them then I can't be hurt by them. Sometimes when you're hurting anything you can do to protect yourself sounds like a very good idea.

But the truth is, as much as I was hurting, as much as I was grieving, I never once regretted falling in love with Brigitte. She's a very special little girl, and she deserves to be loved. She deserves to have someone think about her and pray over her. As hurt as I am, I am privileged to be one of those people. I am privileged to love this wonderful little girl, and I hope someday I'll be able to meet her and tell her how much I love her and how she has touched my life. Even if I never meet her, though, I won't stop praying for her. I continue to love her, even if I can't tell her that.

And the more I thought about things, the more I realized -- as much as it hurts when you lose someone you love, you never regret loving them. You might be hurt, but you'd never choose to have not known them simply to relieve yourself of the pain of losing them. The love is more powerful than the hurt.

All of this made me think a lot about some of the decisions I'd already made. When considering life in general, and adoption in particular, there were some options I'd already ruled out because they were just too hard. There was too much uncertainty, which meant there was too great a chance to get hurt. But if I could look at this one experience and be grateful for it in spite of the hurt, didn't that mean that these other experiences would also be worth it, even if they didn't end up how I'd like them to? I became more open, and started looking into all sorts of possibilities and praying God would lead me in the right direction.

I still don't know for sure where we're going or what we're doing. I have hopes, and I'm getting some small idea, but the truth is we might end up not adopting at all. That would be pretty devastating. But I still wouldn't regret what I've done in the last year. The possibility that things won't end up how I want is not going to keep me from looking at pictures and falling in love. Whoever I bring home (whether I even bring anyone home), these children are children of God, and showing them love, praying for them, is never going to be a bad decision. I hope that I continue to love these children, and have my heart break for them, however much it hurts. I imagine it's how Heavenly Father feels about me.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" 1 John 4:18