Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just in Case....

I'm taking a little break from the holiday giveaway links, because I just realized the date AND because I just realized I hadn't shared it here earlier.... Time's a tickin' for this one.

As many of you know, The Boss and I began another adoption journey last year about this time. It's been slow going, as our "must-do-now" bathroom project took over our little nest egg that we'd been planning for the first few steps of the journey. I've been selling tons of stuff, donations from friends and things we have purged and cleaned out from our own belongings for a while now and we're finally feeling like this process is going somewhere now. I've also been looking around for some creative and purposeful ways to raise money for our documentation fees and travel expenses.

Recently, I  got connected with a Pampered Chef consultant who was willing to work with me on a fundraiser sale. Basically, it's an on-line sale and a percentage of the sales will be translated into a monetary donation directly to our adoption agency in our family's name. Additionally, I'm hosting a party here in my home on Friday night, Dec. 2nd at 7 p.m. If you are local, I'd love for you to come out and join the fun. Free food, a chocolate fountain, and some great weeknight meal ideas will be on the agenda.

So, just in case you are interested in a little
Pampered Chef with a purpose, 
The show will close on Monday, December 5th.
(Really, I can't believe I waited this long to blog about it!)

If you have questions about the shows, please contact me via email (in my profile).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's A Tradition!

Okay, so I know I've not been around much lately. I've had lots to say and precious little time or energy  to say it all, thanks to a change-of-season cold that has been whipping my butt and the little hineys of The Gang plus 2 around here!  I'm woefully behind in reading some of my favorite blogs, participating in the holiday fun, and linking up to give-aways and such.  So, to ease myself back to the routine of blogging, I am sharing some fun holiday links this week. This first one is a tradition that many Mommy Bloggers anxiously wait for and I'm no different. I've won some pretty cool stuff over the years and I'm excited to share the 5 Minutes for Mom Christmas Giveaway 2011!  Head over there TODAY or TOMORROW cuz the fun wraps up on November 30th!!!!


Good luck - there's some mighty cool stuff over there to try for!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review of I Don't Have Your Eyes

Several weeks ago, I was presented an opportunity to review a book for EMK Press.  Since this particular book has been on my "wish list" for some time now, I jumped at the chance to receive it and check it out with Li'l Empress.

When my complimentary copy of I Don't Have Your Eyes arrived in my mailbox, I was DELIGHTED to see it in hardcover. I am a huge fan of beautiful children's books and collect them in hardcover whenever possible. So upon opening the much-anticipated story book, I was already very excited about the prospects this story would hold for us.

And the book did not disappoint.

I read through it first by myself, as Li'l Empress was napping when it arrived. Frankly, because I couldn't wait. I mean, it has been on my "wish list" for a while. Did I mention that?

I found my first read-through to be very touching. The illustrations, first of all, are just beautiful. Realistic, artistic, and very inviting. Each face seems so warm. The "child's eye-level" view of kneeling knees, the big shoes and little shoes, the daddy braiding hair... all of these illustrations complement the text just perfectly. If this book had been picked up by my Li'l Empress before we'd had a chance to read it to her, I've no doubt in my mind that there would have been some great connections made by how the differences between characters were presented visually.

As for the text of the story, I found its simplicity to be the most charming thing about the whole book. Again, on my own reading, I actually felt a little choked up at the tenderness of the observations of the differences between the child and the parent. They were such real things that kids point out to themselves and each other every day. I was quite anxious to read it to Li'l Empress and see where the story pointed her conversations.

At this point, I must add that I am a mom to five kids. My older four bio kids have some strong similarities among them and Li'l Empress is, so far, the only child in our home of a completely different ethnic background. And she has been noticing it a lot lately. Mostly in sweet, funny observations that give us plenty of time to think ahead about the more serious questions that we know will be coming. So, I was thrilled that the appearance of this new book (and truthfully, the pouring rain outside!) prompted Baby BlueEyes to sit with Li'l Empress and I for our first reading of the story. He is, in appearance and in temperament, the most different from Li'l Empress so I was interested to read the story with both of them.

And again, the book did not disappoint.

The three of us giggled and laughed our way through the story, pausing to talk about all the little and big differences the story sparked as Li'l Empress made connections between herself and the characters:

Li'l Empress's little ear and big ear
(Li'l Empress was born with right ear Microtia)
Li'l Empress's shiny black hair and LadyBug's long brown hair
Li'l E's soft dark hands and Momma's scratchy white hands
(yes, I know. I need some Swiss Formula!)
Dr. D's great big huge feet and Li'l E's tiny feet
Li'l E's big black-brown eyes and Baby BlueEye's sky-blue eyes

The book led to some of the sweetest and funniest talks we've had to date, about how we all look very different on the outside. It was precious, really. And very age appropriate for the stage that Li'l Empress is in, at four years old. Baby BlueEyes was making some deeper connections, about adoptions and mixed race families, but they were all on track and really interesting to discuss together.

I think the book does a great job using simple observations kids make about the differences between the people in their lives and catapulting it into points of connection about the really important things of life. Principles like "taking one step at a time" and "lifting spirits with a song" and "giving thanks" all build together to validate the old adage that "It's what's inside that counts," and "in our hearts we are the same."

As a mom of five incredibly unique and very different-from-each-other kids, that message is one that I embrace and can camp  upon while parenting them toward the path that the Lord has for their futures.

Thank you, to EMK Press,
for the complimentary copy 
of this book and the opportunity to review it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rock and a Hard Place

At dinner the other night, I served some Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, some fresh steamed broccoli, and some garden salad to go along with our grilled salmon and noodles. And I served them, knowing full well that the only veggie offered that all 5 kids can even half-heartedly agree upon as potentially edible would be the salad.

Now, I'm sure you've had similar conversations around your table, but this particular one just got me....

Setting the side dishes on the table, "Guys, tonight you need to choose two veggies. Period."

Upon spying the choices on the table, Dr. D groaned and hung his head. The other kids perked up and looked to see what got him so distraught.

They all looked at each other in dismay.  Truly. It was dismay, plain and simple.

The Boss and I couldn't help but grin at each other.  Heh. Sometimes I love being a mom.

Yes, I know. That's evil.
But please. Sometimes, the only fun we get
around here is torturing our kids.
With healthy food options, nonetheless.
I know. We are such cruel parents.
Go ahead. Call Children's Services.

We sat down, bowed our heads together while Li'l Empress prayed one of her "Grandpa Ed" prayers over the meal, and settled in for the meal.

I noticed that the kids weren't exactly looking around or making eye contact. With me. Or with the side dishes at the middle of the table.

So I reminded them, "Guys, tonight you need two veggies. Salad, broccoli or Brussels Sprouts."

Dr. D looked up at the offerings, looked at me, and hung his head again, "Man. Choosing from those options is like choosing how I want to die."


Dramatic much?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rearing Its Ugly Head

We are in a tough season with Li'l Empress. There's no other way of saying it - it just is what it is.

Separation anxiety is rearing its ugly head in her little heart and mind once again. Drop-offs at Sunday school have grown more painful, with feelings of increasing anxiety leading from the time she starts getting dressed all the way up to the actual dropping off and signing in at the door of the class.  Drop-offs at pre-school are increasing in difficulty also.

For two Sundays in a row now, I've had to stop at the doorway of the nursery (on the way back out to the sanctuary) to compose myself. Her tears and cries for Momma are heart-breaking to hear.

In my head, I know that this revisiting of the stage is developmentally normal. Age-appropriate, life-experience appropriate. Even "adjusted age" appropriate. It's normal... the other kids did it at 3 and 4, too. In my head I know that.

In my head, I know I've done all I can do to prepare her, assure her, and then prove to her that Daddy and I will be back to get her. In my head, I know she is safe and well-cared for. In my head, I know that SHE knows she is safe and well-cared for.

But it doesn't make her tears and cries for Momma any LESS heart-breaking.

Nor does it make this stage any less exhausting.

Which, ironically, I think might actually be making this stage last longer than it needs to last.

(It might also just feel like it's lasting longer than it needs to last. I know that too.)

Because I am finding myself much less patient with her constant need for reassurances as we're walking down the hall to Sunday School.

Because I'm finding myself snapping at her barrage of questions about who is in charge in her class room and who will pick her up when church is over.

Because I find myself bristling every time she asks me who will be the drop-off teacher at the pre-school line.

Because I find myself so.over.the.drama. that all of the reassurances and questions and crying are creating.

Like just now.

She just came to me, asking who was going to be putting her to bed tonight. She interrupted my train of thought, asked it in a whiny, nervous tone, and I didn't hear her at first. So she asked again. On the verge of tears at the thought that the answer might be Daddy instead of Mommy.

I heard it that time. And because I was being interrupted. Again. For the same basic reason as so many other interruptions in these last 5 weeks. I snapped at her. I told her to ask me again later. That I didn't want to talk about bedtime so far before bedtime.

The irony is that while I'm this tired and worn out from the constancy of this need, what she needs the most to move past this scary-to-her part of the need is my gentle, tender reassurances and patience. She needs me to be present and to validate her feelings while taking the time to allay her fears and insecurities. My impatience and snappish-ness is just making her more nervous and uncertain.

So, I stop what I'm doing. I stop thinking about what I know she needs, about what I know I've done to meet those needs, and I do it. I just do it.

I'm pretty sure that what I was doing (typing out a blog post) WAS going to translate to something brilliant here. But the brilliance is gone.

That's okay, it was fleeting and likely not as brilliant as I'd like to think it was, I'm sure. It rarely is.

Instead, there's soft hugs, back rubbing, and tender whispers of love and constancy.

Praying while I whisper of the constancy of our presence and our love.

Of The Father's Love.

Fighting back the ugly head of her anxieties. Slaying the dragon of insecurity once more, vanquishing its hold for another day.

And trusting that there is brilliance in that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's a New Era

A big, big change has happened in The Gang's House. And while I know the change is for the better, for a right start to a big future, it's NOT a change I have embraced easily.

Most of you know by now that Shaggy is a senior. That Shaggy is a licensed driver. And that Shaggy is a hard worker, with his sights set forward toward the plans that God has for him.  We are extraordinarily proud of the young man that Shaggy is. We are thrilled to dream with him for the destiny God has set out before him. Last week, he took another step in pursuing that future. He got his first "real" job, with a schedule, training hours, a paycheck. And yes, taxes, too.

Tonight is his first shift. He's joining the world of retail fast food.

Though I am usually not excited about these big changes that mean my gang members are growing up so quickly, I must admit a teensy little thrill of excitment over this part of the change.  I hear tell that Ch!k-F!l-@ has some mighty awesome milkshakes. I'm thinking Shaggy needs to let his Momma test that theory for herself one of these afternoons. His treat. I'll take it in payment for the taxi fare.

But I digress.....  Back to the change.....

Last night, he took the biggest step of all in toward in chasing this new era of his life.

He got a hair cut.


I say it all the time.
This boy has some great hair.
Good-bye lovely long shaggy locks.

Off the collar, layered.
Neat and tidy for the retail fast-food industry specs.
And just way too grown up looking for this momma.

Those had better be some darned good milkshakes.
I don't think the nuggets will be comfort enough.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Her Own Little Twist

Over the many years of parenting this Gang o' mine, we've had lots of fun little traditions and routines that all the kids count on, things that have become almost like muscle memory for us.

One of my favorites has been the After! Bath! Hooo-ha! that The Boss and I put on for the kids when they were little. The smelling of the hair. The snuggling in new clean jammies. The smelling of the lotion-scented baby skin. The smelling of the hair. The exclamations and appropriate outbursts of joy to accompany said smellings and snugglings. Ooooh, who doesn't love the smell of a freshly shampoo'd little one, all warm and snuggled in their arms?

Sadly, mostly all my gang members are far too grown up for this little ritual. When one of them comes down freshly showered now, I have to be content with pathetically leaning in just to catch a whiff of the freshness. I miss the over! the! top! excitement of Saturday bath night that much.

Well, okay. I just miss the snuggling and "Smew my haiw" clamors for attention. I don't miss the chaos of running four little ones through the bath routine before crashing on the couch in exhaustion.

Apparently, Li'l E loves the little ritual of smelling freshly shampoo'd hair and snuggling with soft, lotion'd skin more than I realized. She has taken the routine to a new level.

This morning, while I was showering, she came in to greet me.  It went a little bit like this:

Knock, knock, knock.

(Can I pause here and tell you what a MILESTONE it is that she can stop, knock, and be content to wait for bidding to enter?! You moms who have had little ones with separation anxiety will GET that. Can I get a WOOT?!)

"Come in."

Perky. Chipper. "Good! MORNING! Momma!"

From the steam and rush of the shower, "Good morning sweetie. Do you need to go potty?"

"Nope. I aweady wented."

"Did you just come in to say hello?"

"Yup. Are you takin a showah?"

She spent a few seconds watching herself in the mirror and then making faces at me through the glass shower doors, giggling at herself and chattering away.


"Yes, Li'l E?"

"When you are done yoh showah, can I smell you?"

"Ummm, sure? Really? You wanna smell Mommy?"

Several minutes later, I toweled dry and shook out my hair. I bent over and stuck my hair in her face, "There. Smell my hair. All clean."

"Yes, but can I smell dere?"

Ummm, not sure where this is going... "Uh, here? My shoulder?"

"Yes. Yoh showder. I want to smell your showder."

Long, exaggerated, sniff, followed by a deep, contented sigh (she is SUCH a drama queen!), "Mmmmmm, Mommy! YOU! SMELL! GWEAT! SO! CLEAN!"

With that, she spun around, left the bathroom and went off to find her brother.

I guess I passed the smell test.

I'm so relieved.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm a Contributor!

I'm pleased to announce that one of my recent posts has been selected for posting over at We Are Grafted In. I've recommended the site to many of you before and I'm so honored to now be counted as a contributor. I even got this handy-dandy little button to sport on my sidebar for my efforts.

I'd love for you to go over and check out the wonderful things written there about the journey of adoptive families. And if you have a minute, read my post too.

Oh, and I looooooove me some comments...
You know, once you are over there.
If you have the extra time.
And you don't mind sharing your thoughts.
Pretty please.