"To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exltation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived...this is to have succeeded." _Ralph Waldo Emerson_

Friday, June 5, 2009

One of the Wildest Weeks of Our Life

I've been wanting to publish right along with the experience of meeting Hannah for the first time and what this past week has been like, but between the emotional highs/lows of our first 2 days with Hannah, Isaiah's 2nd birthday party, the 48 hour flu (more like 5 days for Isaiah), ER visit doctors visits, and my brother-in-laws energy level has hit a new low.
Thurs. - Meeting Hannah (we've added an 'h' to her name).
I thought I was prepared until the moment came. Then I was completely overwhelmed. The house was dark and cluttered and the t.v. was blaring, we were offered a seat on the couch while foster mom went to get her. Meanwhile we are sitting with our social worker and Hannah's social worker. Hannah walked into the room totally oblivious to us or anyone there, and it was clear that she saw this as her moment to explore a new unseen area of the house. Rob and I tried sitting on the floor and talking to her, but how much can you say to an 18 month old that doesn't talk yet? All the while, we were being watch (felt like scrutinized) by 2 social workers and a foster mom. No one else said anything, they just stared at us trying to interact with her in this crowed un-kid friendly environment. I pulled out some bubbles, and hit the jackpot. She loved them, but the crazy fans in the house made it near impossible for her to chase or follow them. This was so much more difficult than I had imagined, but for different reasons. Rob was much better at connecting with her, he was more physical with her and threw her around a bit (which she loved). I just couldn't love on this little girl the way I would have imagined I would have at the first meeting, when everyone was sitting there observing us and observing Hannah. I will never forget the intense awkwardness of that day, and was looking forward to the next day when Rob and I could take her to the park by ourselves.
Friday - Hannah to Ourselves
We picked up Hannah in the morning, and said we would only be a couple hours (to the disappointment of the foster mom)...we didn't know we could do longer than that or we certainly would have. But none the less, with lunches packed we headed for the nearest park. She didn't make a peep in the car, we talked and talked, but she just sat there and stared at us, then out the window and back and forth. She didn't seem scared, and she never shed a tear the entire day. In fact, I am certain she had lots of fun. She has some challenges walking in shoes (she doesn't need them, cause she mostly inside all day), and doesn't grasp the concept of going up stairs, I'm not even sure she's been on a swing before. But we all had a great time. Hannah is very loving and affectionate, right from the get go. She let me hold her and even put her arms up to me a couple times. We did more bubbles and had our lunch on a picnic blanket with some music, to which Hannah showed us how she can get her groove on. Bringing her back was tough, especially after foster mom just put her behind the fenced in play room and kept talking while she walked away leaving Hannah crying and reaching for someone to pick her back up again. As foster mom kept walking us outside and talking, I could hear Hannah continuing to cry softly. Then after a few minutes of treacherously listening to foster mom talk while Hannah cried, she stopped, to which foster mom said, 'see she stops after a little while.'

How are we going to do this? How, for the next couple weeks (YES YOU READ CORRECTLY), maybe MORE are we going to leave her back there every day?
9 of our oak trees were trimmed and pruned creating a brush pile at least 30 yards long, 5 feet wide, and 6 feet high. Imagine a large tube shape of brush that obstructed the view of our entire house and our neighbors from the street . And after all that was cleared, the chipper chipped that big pile in like 40minutes, it was amazing. Well, we spent the day getting our yard ready for Isaiah's birthday party and gawking at the amazing pile of tree cuttings out of our yard. You would have thought we owned a forest or something.
Sunday - Isaiah Turns 2!
What a fun day for Isaiah. He spotted his cupcakes on the counter in the morning, and from then on he refused to eat anything throughout the day cause he was just waiting to get his hands on that cupcake. He was so excited! He had been asking for several days when his friends were coming over. Then he would proceed to ask me about each one by name, including all 4 cousins, and all the moms names as well. I.e., his buddy Eli....."Is Eli coming over?" "Yes Eli's coming," "And Jamie coming too?" "Yes Jamie's coming too." And on it would go.......
I had vowed never to do "character" themed birthday parties for a variety of reasons. However, for reasons out of my control, over the past year my son has began an obsession of sorts with the cars from the cars movie. Now, I admit it started to become rather endearing the way he knows like all 30 character names and pretends with them and keeps occupied with them for dozens of minutes on end. So I caved and I gave him a "Cars" themed birthday, to which he was totally thrilled about.
It was a blast of a day, and he couldn't have been more excited about having his friends over, and all of the commotion.
Until that night when both Rob and I came down with the most awful flu bug.....
after a trip to the ER, my mom and dad picking up Isaiah for us,...
That took us out of the picture until Wednesday
Wednesday - Our first full day with Hannah
We all went early Wednesday to pick up Hannah. Isaiah was very excited in the car, and kept asking about her. This was going to be his first time meeting her and we were very excited about that. He took to her right away, and when we showed up, Hannah was a bit apprehensive at first but she quickly took to us again and to him and his energy. The 2 ran around the playroom a bit at the foster home, while we let them warm up to each other. But we didn't want to spend any more time in that house than we needed to, so we made our way out. Hannah does great in the car, she doesn't fuss or make a peep. It's a nice balance from Isaiah who talks nonstop, but which will also prove good for Hannah as she learns to talk.
We made our way to the zoo as a first outing as a family. This didn't turn out to be the best thing for us because for some reason all the children in town decided to show up at the zoo that day....what was it bring 5 kids for free day??? Anyway, the zoo and adjacent park were oozing kids everywhere and it turned out to be quite overwhelming (more so for mommy than for the kids...I'm not used to keeping tabs on 2!). After some lunch at the park we made our way home for our first attempt at nap time with the 2 of the same room....
It was a bit rough, but man, when I think of all the possible ways it could have been worse, in light of that, it went great! We read books, then mommy laid Hannah in her crib and Daddy took laid Isaiah down in his bed. She cried for a brief minute during which we overheard Isaiah say, "It's okay Hannah, it's okay." Talk about tugging on a mommy's heart. Wow!
They slept for 2 hours! Then we played the remainder of the day, had dinner together and made the long trek back to the foster home to bring Hannah back.
All in all Hannah's first day in our house went really well. She wandered around a lot checking everything out. She wasn't interested in the toys so much...but what I have since discovered is that no one has shown her how to play with toys. I talk more about that later.
Today we called Toddler Boot Camp!

More to come...with pics.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tomorrow we meet our Daughter!

Wow! It's been 12 days since the last post, and as much as I've wanted to write an update, I haven't been able to put all of it down on "paper" due to the unpredictable nature of this whole process. What am I trying to say????
Well, a week ago today (last Wednesday), we met with the social worker as I had said before to learn more about this little girl. The meeting was amazing. I went into the meeting with pages of questions, but only had to ask a few because the social worker was thorough and gave us such a clear picture of what's has been going on in the life of this precious baby girl. By the end of the meeting, although we were encouraged not to make a decision right there, we 'tentatively' set up a date to meet her. Before we even walked out the of the building, neither Rob nor I had to even speak to each other, we already knew our answer. Just brief moments of eye contact between the 2 of us was enough to know that this was not only what God wanted for our family, but what we wanted as well.

So, after the obligatory 24 hours to "think" about it was over, I called our social worker, and said YES!!!!!

Without further adue, let me tell you a little about her, our future daughter!!! Hanna is 18 months old. She is from Sacramento, and has been living with a foster mom/dad since she left the hospital. We have seen a picture, and think she is just beautiful. Her mom is African American and her dad is Caucasian, giving her a very pretty mocha skin color with big brown eyes (just like Isaiah's) and dark curly hair. She is incredibly tall for her age, in fact although she is 6 months younger than Isaiah, she might be taller than he is!!! (If the myth about doubling a 2 year olds height will give you their adult height holds true.....she might be over 6ft!!). None of the challenges she has faced and currently faces were things that we felt we couldn't deal with. She enjoys dolls and dancing (which scares this tom-boy mom a bit), making me excited to see the beautiful tenderness of a little girl grace this home.

Hanna is legally ready for adoption, which is really just an amazing hurdle that we don't have to first go through. Once she is in our home, we simply have to wait the 6 months waiting period before we can legalize it with the courts. Most of the time, families waiting to adopt children in the foster system, are also waiting for the courts to first terminate parental rights, meaning that the birth family will no longer have any legal rights with that child. This can be an excruciating process for all involved, because the court really does it's best to help 're-unify' the child with the birth parents, regardless sometimes of how interested the birth parents act. We don't have to go through any of that, Hanna is an orphan in the truest sense of the word and is ready and waiting for a family.

SOOOOOO.......the soonest time that we could arrange to meet her, after we gave our 'official' YES (a week ago), is tomorrow! We have had to wait an entire week from deciding yes, until the day we could meet her. And then it may be a couple weeks still before she can come home with us.
Are we nervous? I keep getting that question. Not really, not yet anyway. I think it feels a bit how it did just before our wedding. I wasn't nervous to marry Rob, I was most nervous about the event itself, the spiritual magnitude of it, the weight and importance of it, and even then not until the morning of. In that way, I'm not nervous about our decision or even about Hanna and meeting her. I am most nervous about the 'event' of it so to speak. To think that I will be meeting my daughter for the first time tomorrow, has such enormity to it, the spiritual magnitude of it, and importance of it. I don't' think my mind will even comprehend it fully until the moment (at which point all emotions are a go I am sure). It's strange to think that the enormity of the moment will be nothing more to her than just meeting some new people.

And beyond that, tomorrow begins the day that the coarse of one human life was changed.
God make us instruments of change for your glory, AMEN!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Baby on the Horizon??!??!

Almost too much to catch up on already! But that said, time seems to have slowed to an almost unbearable rate this week.

Reason being....we have been chosen as a potential family for a little girl. To be brief, I know that many of you are curious maybe confused about that small detail of a girl, as we've been talking about a boy for over a year. However, something very crucial occurred to me, when God asked me a few weeks ago if I was willing to just be 'available,' and stop trying to control my circumstances. Please ask me more in person, as this is a bit more personal than i want to be here, but we are incredibly ecstatic about the possibility of a girl. I will give more details as we get closer to making a final decision. But for now and until next week when we have our disclosure meeting (a disclosure meeting is one in which the little girl's social worker and us will meet and essentially interview each other, and we will find out all about her history), keep us in your prayers that we will make the right decision for our family and for this little girl also. This has turned into more of an excruciating process than I ever dared imagine, and we haven't even hit the hard stuff yet. Not to be a discouraging to those of you out there that are hopefully considering this as well, but it certainly is producing patience in me if nothing else at this point, well and a reliance on God to set my coarse.

Okay, some new order of business:

I long ago finished "Tears of the Giraffe," and enjoyed it as much as the first in the read. I moved along to "A Thousand Splendid Suns, " and almost cried numerous times and was incredibly moved by the historical fiction that followed 2 woman through the last 30-40years of Afghanistan's history. What an incredible writer. I was turned onto him from his first book "The Kite Runner, " which was amazing. But this one was about women in the region (the author is from Afghanistan). I am always so impressed when a man author is able to so aptly describe a woman's soul. I love books that develop characters well over time, and this book did so very well for these 2 women. I highly recommend. And now, a deep dark secret to reveal: I am hooked on the Twilight series....never thought it would happen...but I just can't put them down. I'm almost finished with the 2nd book and I stared them on Sunday that bad? She definitely has a way of hooking you with her anticipatory writing, (character development, not so much). I will be getting book 3 this afternoon, so that as soon as 2 is done I won't waste a minute moving right along. Such fun! I am appreciative of the distraction that this book is bringing me now as we wait anxiously to get more information about our possibly baby girl.

Happy Mother's Day! We had a lovely day. We picked up Isaiah from my mom and dad's on Sunday morning and went down to Nugget market for breakfast. It was something that Rob Isaiah and I would do every Saturday for quite some time. They have the BEST pastries...and coffee of coarse. Then we took a stroll along the water with our coffee and food, before packing back into the car and heading for the Crocker Art Museum. What a treat! Isaiah even fell asleep in the car so while Rob stayed with him, I got about 45 minutes of uninterrupted museum time! WEW HOOO! We even got a tour by the museum docent of the current exhibit of Maxfield Parrish. I know I'd heard his name, but was stunned to truly enjoy his work, although none of it was particularly familiar.
I would love to do a tribute to motherhood here, but feel like in my emotional exhausted state I would simply start crying over the weight of it, not do I feel like I have just the right words to give it justice. Being a mom is the single most amazing job in the world, hands down, no questions asked. It occurred to me even, while as a mom we got to be celebrated on this day, that I ought to be praising God instead of receiving any sort of praise. Praising Him for the gift of motherhood, for the opportunity afforded me to be a mom to the most incredible little boy, for allowing me the insight into the heart of God through the lessons I learn day to day alongside my baby, for the joy of watching him grow and learn and explore, for the simple and complex emotion that I feel when his little lips hit mine and the indescribable sweetness in the way he holds my hand. I feel at times I'm grasping at time as I watch him get ever bigger, BUT am thankful for every minute. Here is my precious the boy and I enjoying none other than the grass and a stick after our time at the museum.

And finally in my attempts to work backwards, here are a few pictures of our time at Prom on Saturday night. Yes your read correctly. We were chaperons for prom, and I had quite a bit of fun, from dressing up and buying new shoes (I was bummed when I realized that the bellow picture is the only one we took of us that night...and you can't see my cool shoes:() getting my hair done since I needed it cut anyway, and then enjoying watching the kids. It was so much fun seeing all the beautiful girls (and impossibly awkward boys) in their amazing dresses. Bohemian dresses, and large floral prints seem to be in style and they were just lovely.
Then afterwards I surprised Rob with a small date down memory lane. Even though it was already 11:30 when we left the Prom, at the car, I had packed some wine and wine glasses (and lemonade of coarse for Rob). The Prom was held at the college that we met at, so we took our wine and a blanket and headed out the grass lawn where we shared numerous college days laying around eating our lunch and planning the future. It was so much fun sitting out there late at night dreaming about the past talking about the future. The police slowly passed by us several times but never bother us. Our only concern was whether or not the sprinklers would turn on.

Rob, as the blackjack dealer.
Long time family friend and babysitter, Haley (her parents were the ones that ran in the race with us the previous weekend). Isn't she just beautiful?
Another great babysitter and fantastic girl Anna, crowned Junior princess! So cute huh?
Ahhh, and then there is Robbie, I met him when he was only 2....I was his babysitter, and his girlfriend Sara who is an incredible basketball player with offers just pouring in for her to play where ever her heart desires. Aren't they cute?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Monterey 2009

We spent an elongated weekend in Monterey last weekend. We try to go every year, and this year we added a big new element to our trip.

Day 1: We took Isaiah to see the tide pools. What an adventure, poor little sea anemones...getting squished but producing a zillion laughs.

(Can you see the seals on the rocks behind us? So Cool!)

Day 2: The Aquarium

We've been several times over the last couple years, but our favorite new discovery this time was this amazing sea horse! Yes, the next picture, although it appears to be fuzzy sea weed, is actually a sea horse. AMAZING. The variety of God's creatures is what keeps me coming back for more.

The children's play area was voted by far, the favorite place for Isaiah. What a kick. They really have an incredible place for toddlers and school age children to explore and let their imaginations take over. What a blast we all had. It was so fun to watch Isaiah learn, explore and just have fun with all the new things. It was much more fun coming with him than it would have been without him. You get to be excited all over again about the amazingness of our world.

Isaiah's "Baby Sea Water" that he got to pick out at the gift shop. He was hugging him and saying, "I wuv him." Ahhhhh, it made the outlandish amount of 6$ possibly worth it. Day 3: With Isaiah off with Mimi and Papa for the rest of the weekend, we got a little R&R to ourselves. This is the view just out from the place we stay at every year. This time of year was great for all the flowers, not so great for the weather. It was WAY to cold for me this weekend. I was a walking popsicle.

Our friends Steve and Darcy joined us for this portion of the weekend. We had a blast hanging out at Cannery Row, Carmel and just lounging around for the day.
Of coarse the big exciting news that prevailed the weekend for us, was the addition of Rob's new toy! The is such an amazing gaget, it was tough to put it away sometimes, especially when there were sports stats and scores to look up...even while on the pier overlooking the water, the boys were hooked.

Day 4: The culmination of the weekend, and the big new event - The BIG SUR MARATHON! We relayed it of coarse with Steve and Darcy. The run took place on Hwy 1, which they shut down once a year for this race. It was pretty unique, being able to run on one of the most beautiful highways. We had to be at the bus at 4:15am and ready to go. Steve was leg one, and here I am coming up to Rob on leg 2, then Rob passed off to Darcy at the end. Our time was about 3 hours, 20 min (approx...i don't know our official time). I was absolutely freezing. I never run in a sweatshirt, but as you can see from this pic, I am the only one wearing one...and I didn't care how un-runner like I looked, I was COLD.

Once I finally caught my breath, I turned around to grab a pic of Rob taking off on his leg of the race. Behind him you can see the buses that they used to get all the runners to their appointed spots. It was quite the ordeal, and quite amazing when it was all said and done.

Okay, one of the best parts for me was the unexpected surprise of my friend Eunice. 2 teams of girls from my old job were formed and were participating in this race too. But the best part was that Eunice and I got to run the same leg. Then when we were done, we decided to keep walking just for kicks the next leg (which was 7 miles up hill). It was quite the adventure because at the last minute we realized that all the buses were leaving and we were minutes from being stranded on hwy 1. But we were saved by a short bus on the side of the road that had some extra seats. What a stinking blast riding back in that thing with some random people, and all the while everyone yelling out the window encouragements to the remaining runners.

This one's just for you Eunice, you silly girl.

A few pics of the view along the next 7 miles that I walked (and Rob ran).

Our killer relay team post-race and post-Chipotle!