Wednesday, August 29, 2012


"Everybody looks so happy!"

I'm told this a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. 

Yep, we're happy.  Yep, the kids are doing great.  They are doing amazingly well considering they've spent less than two months with us. 

On the flipside, we have some pretty tough moments. Some really bad days. Fine, let's be real, we've even had some all-around crappy weeks. 
Why am I awake?
But our kids, especially Joel because of his age, are dealing with some big, raw, nasty feelings from their past. Things that little people shouldn't have experienced. Abandonment, loss, distrust, neglect, more loss. 

And Joel? He's been in a funk. Acting out. Not eating. Clinging. Crying. Regressing. Behaviors we expected, behaviors we "understand", but behaviors that are definitely hard to work through. 

We finally broke down a wall yesterday and he told me he felt scared.  Scared that we were going to leave him.  (Thank you Lord for Google Translate) Then crumpled in my lap and let me rock him to sleep. 

And you know what sucks? I can't fix it. Not right away. I can do nothing more than assure him we'll always be a family, that we're going to be together, and prove that to him day after day after day. Has he heard that before? Maybe. And that sucks, too.  I know we'll earn his trust.  But I want to fix his hurt. Now. 

This week has required extreme patience. I have pulled every tip and advice from my bag of tricks. I was beginning to feel pretty pissed at how my sucky bag of tricks was not the least bit helpful. 

I needed out of the house. Out of Funkville.

So we went to the park.

And there it was.  A glimmer of hope.  A peek of sunshine through the clouds that he and I both needed (and apparently Jay, too).

He met a boy.

And made a friend.

(The boy's face was not disfigured, I just didn't feel it appropriate to put some stranger's kid on our blog)
They ran and jumped and chased each other.  They shared his cape and looked at the cars on his buddy's t-shirt. And an hour later when it was time to leave, I asked him if he made a friend.  My boy smiled from ear to ear and puffed out his chest.

"Dah, friend!" 

And I cried. I sent Jay the picture and he cried, too. (Sorry for ousting you, Jay.)

We needed a win this week. All of us. And it came in the unexpected package of a boy at the park.

So we're gonna take this friend thing and run with it. Maybe set up a playdate or two with a neighbor.  I can't fix his hurt, but I can help him find some new happiness.

We're gonna be okay, buddy.  We're gonna be okay. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


"You two look exactly alike!" a random stranger told Jay at the gas station.

How did you reply? I asked when he got back into the car and told me the story.

I told him "thanks," smiled, and we went on our way. 

You know, I think "thanks" is enough. 

The first day we met Joel.  His caretakers went on and on about how he looked like his "Papa" 
Trip #2 to visit Joel. Don't you just want to see a smile on that face?

Sure do love this boy.
This dude was definitely meant for our family. : )

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day in the Life of the Naked Lala

Little Miss Livvy has many dolls she cares for. She calls them La-las.  She is a very attentive mini-Mama to almost all of her babies.  But not to naked Lala. 

Naked Lala had a real rough day today. 

Here's naked Lala in all her nudity embarrassed on the garage floor.  

 Then she got run over by bikes in the driveway several times. Joel found it hilarious.

 She took a nap in the backyard after she was flung off the swings.

 Was almost eaten by the ferocious Dottie after a Fruit Loops activity. (Note: Those are Lala's clothes, she has not always been a naked baby)

 Here Olivia sings to Lala before chucking her down the stairs.

 Time to eat Lala. She later fell off the stool.

Finally, Lala ends her day under a wet washrag on a stepstool. 

The sun will come up tomorrow, Lala.  Maybe it will be a better day.

Monday, August 13, 2012

We Took a Little Trip...

The natives were restless.  I sensed it was a case of the Happy Birthday Hangovers.  You know the kind, when you eat a lot of cupcakes and drink one too many Koolaids? Yep, that's the one. So call me crazy, but I thought it was time for a road trip.

So we picked up the baby whisperer...

...and headed to the cabin for a day trip.  It was the perfect getaway full of many "firsts"...

First pedicures

First walk on the trails

First time fishing

First exaggerated fish tales. 

 First chip sandwich. (Honestly, who's parenting this child?)

First gator rides. 

First time swimming in a lake. 

And checking out girls with Uncle Joeker. (Kidding, kidding) 

And we ended the day with a first cuddly boat ride.  

I know we'll spend many wonderful days at the cabin, but watching these "firsts" will always be extra special to me.  It's like seeing the world with a fresh set of eyes. 

Thanks Mom and Dad for the invite, and to Uncle Joeker for riding in the back of the van with the turbulent trio. Turns out a little fun in the sun and some fresh air were all we needed to cure the birthday blues! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The little man in my life

So, I've got this little man in my life. He's five today.
I'd move mountains for this kid if he'd ask me.

A day with Joel is like taking boyhood and smashing it into one lovely little package with big brown eyes.  I savor his little boy-isms, because I know all too soon he's gonna get big on me.

Someday he won't want to wear a cape with every outfit. Or turn all household items into weapons to fight bad guys.  He won't run around my house making sound effects while shooting plastic missiles at the dog. 

One morning he'll wake up and he won't watch Scooby Doo cuddled on my lap in his jammies. And no longer will a bubble beard in the bathtub be totally hilarious.

I know there's plenty you'll outgrow, my Joel.  But please keep a few things just for me.

Keep your curiosity about the world and the way things work.  Your love for stories, your sense of humor, and your imagination, too.

Keep your adoration towards your Grandpa, Uncles, and Dad. They can teach you how to fill their shoes.  Their totally awesome shoes. 

Keep your love for learning new things. Your kindness towards your sisters, and your Mom, while you're at it.

Keep your resiliency under adversity, but your open heart in loving others.
And if you really want to, Joel, you can keep the capes. : )

Monday, August 6, 2012


Dear Stella,

Four years ago and unbeknownst to me, a woman that I will never meet gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.  She gave birth to you, my girl.

It's a little hard for me that I will never be able to tell you stories of that day, or the 1432 that followed for that matter.  And it also seems a little unfair that there were 1432 days that I wasn't there to love you.

But I will always tell you the story of how I saw your picture and I knew you were my daughter. How I would do anything and everything to get to you as fast as humanly possible.  How my heart broke into pieces and swelled with joy the moment I met you.  We will have so many stories of you. Including the story of today, your "first" birthday.

Since you've been home, I've had the honor of watching your soul come alive.  You sing, you dance, you act oh-so-dramatically about almost everything. You make us laugh, you test our patience.

And each day, you let love in.

I think for this occasion, Ben Folds might say it best.

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know

That I am
The luckiest

I love you Stella Grace. Happy Birthday, baby girl.