Making Fwowers

My son and I planted about 20 lily bulbs the first summer we lived here in Iowa. The little guy was almost 2 years old when we saw the boxed bulbs at Sam’s Club and on a whim, I bought a few of them. We took our treasure trove home, and began to bury it. As I dug the holes, my boy was much more interested in making sure each bulb had a kiss and hug than joining me in the dirt with the little navy blue trowel that was just his size.

“We’re making fwowers!” he would exclaim every time I buried another bulb in the dusty summer soil.

He had no idea how long the wait would be for the reward of “our” hard work.  The first year we were eager as we waited for what would only be a few inches of plant growth to surface. There would be no blossoms to admire, but my boy didn’t appear to care. He praised the urchin like beginnings of green and burgundy foliage that peeked through the ground and looked for them when ever we were in the yard.

Fwowers, Mommy!” he would say with excitement and wonder as he pointed out the little plants with pride.  With grin on his face and a drool and dirt line on his tee shirt, he toddled about the grass from bulb to bulb discovering new growth in the fwower beds.

After 2 years of anticipation, our reward came when the bulbs finally burst forth with stunning blossoms in July. I think my son was more fascinated with his Stargazers and Casablancas than the fireworks display!

I love seeing the lilies grow each year. They get taller, thicker stocks and heartier, larger blossoms.  In some ways it’s like my almost-first-grader son who despite loosing his front teeth, can now say flowers perfectly, is beginning to read, and can now ride a two wheel bike. The flower stems have reached a higher height than the little guy this year, but I know it’s only temporary. The little guy is growing up.

Every year the flowers eventually fade, but the vibrant memories never will.

Rylon's Flowers

“40”

We’ve all heard them. We’ve all laughed at them. We’ve all cringed at them…

“The best years of a woman’s life- the 10 years between 39 and 40.”

“The ‘I just woke up’ face of your 30’s is the ‘all day long’ face of your 40’s.” -Libby Reid

And the one that was on the t-shirt my mom gave my dad for his 40th birthday, “40 isn’t old if you’re a TREE.”

When I turned 30 it didn’t really faze me. It feels like it was just a few months ago, but I know that isn’t true because last week I turned 39. Steve Miller was right, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’… Into the future.” Getting older doesn’t really bother me any more now than it did at 30. Getting older is a gift, something I feel even stronger about since my mother’s death when she was just 52. So, I celebrate the completion of my 39th year… up next:  the big 4-0! It seems fitting that I do something to solemnize the completion of another decade in some way, so I spent this week thinking about what that should be.

I thought about making a bucket list. I have one and I could publish it for the whole world to see. A few of my friends have marked such an occasions with ‘40 things to do before I’m 40’ check lists. Those lists make me nervous. What if I don’t do them all? Sometimes I have a hard time quieting my inner perfectionist.

I thought about making a goal. A friend of mine marked the occasion of her 40th by taking up running and completed a marathon that year. I admire her accomplishment and at one time I seriously considered the challenge, but over the last year I’ve been nursing a foot injury that has been stubbornly slow in healing. I think that one is still a few years out for me.

I thought about going back to school, but I don’t have that I absolutely must or I won’t be complete drive inside me about it. School is a huge commitment that would require finances, time and sacrifices that I am not sure are really worth it for the things I hope to accomplish in my life, and besides, I have a degree, so there’s a little of the “been there, done that” element to that option as well.

So what I have decided to do is write a collection of 40 letters to my kids. When I began this blog I thought I would do more of that here on this site, and as it turns out that isn’t really where things went. Yes, I have written a lot about things that I want them to know, but I haven’t really made Hannah, Rachel and Rylon prominent as my audience. So over the next year, along with the usual style of writing I have done, I will be writing a collection letters specifically written for the 3 precious gifts that are my children. Their questions, their innocence, and their love inspire me and have shaped so much of who I am today. I am humbled and privileged to be their mom.

My Muses

I also hope you will enjoy the ‘40’ journey with me. Thank you so much for being my audience. Your encouragement and enthusiasm have brought so much meaning to this journey. I am overwhelmed by your support! It humbles me to think that I might have the words that speak into your own stories. To God be the glory.

I couldn’t end without a few more quotes for the road…

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” -John Burroughs

“At 40, every time you suck in your gut, your ankles swell.”

With Love,

Vicki

Wolves and Sharks

Ever heard the expression, “I told you so?”   Daddy’s feeling a little smug around our house this summer.  Let’s take a trip down our family’s memory lane to a few summers ago and discover why…

“Can you tell me again, Mom?  What exactly again are we doing at this camp?”  Our daughter’s question was filled with tense apprehension.  We were just 2 miles from the camp turn off and I could tell she was having second thoughts.  I reached for the cream colored brochure with a cheerful picture of a sun emblazoned on the front.  Turning to the page of camp descriptions, I read allowed all of the details about what she would experience during her week at camp.  Our younger daughter seemed satisfied with the description and relaxed in her seat.

“Do you need for me to read yours too?”  I asked our older daughter.

“Please!” she requested with eager excitement.  She had wanted to go to camp at Camp Shalom since she first heard about it, along with all the adventures her friends experienced there, when she was in the 4th grade.  Now here we were, only a mile or so from the winding dirt road leading to the camp grounds and she was bubbling with excitement!

“Villager Camp,” I began, “For campers entering grades 7 to 9.”

As if by canine instinct, my husband’s ears were suddenly trained on every word I spoke.  He couldn’t keep from interrupting me.  Before I could finish the description, he was barking questions.

“Have you talked to her yet?” he asked.

“Talked to her about what?” I answered.

“Well, there are going to be boys at this camp!  Boys who are in High School! Have you talked to her about this?  Does she know what…” his voice trailed off in frustration.   “Have you talked to her about this?”  As he spoke in his panicked ‘Dad’ voice I could see he was even having a difficult time driving.  The gentle curves of the country road were met with stiff handling behind the wheel of our mini van and I could tell I needed to say something soothing before all of us landed in a ditch!

“Honey,” I said to my daughter in a voice that attempted to both sooth my husband and not freak out my daughter, “You’re heading into Junior High now and at this camp the Junior High kids are in the same group as the first year High School kids.  Some of those kids are going to have more independence and experience than you.”  Clearly I wasn’t getting to the point quickly enough for my husband’s taste.  We turned onto the narrow, forest lined, dirt road leading to the camp and looking at me and my husband implored me, “Get to the point, Mommy.”

I gently began again, “Sometimes when kids your age get alone without the supervision of their parents they try to take advantage of the situation.”

For Daddy, this clearly was not direct enough.  We were taking the hills and curves of the little gravel road with a quickened pace.  “Easy there Daddy, we’re not driving the ‘General Lee’.”  I whispered just loud enough for him to hear me.  He was not amused.  The indent between his eyebrows grew deeper.

In the rear view mirror he looked back to our oldest daughter and began speaking in an urgent ‘Dad’ voice, “What Mommy is not saying is that there are going to be boys at this camp.  High School boys, who have one thing on their mind!” and then he turned to look back at her as she shrunk back in her seat and in a full ‘Dad’ voice, he blurted out, “They are wolves and sharks, and you are what’s on the menu!”

We continued the rest of the drive down the gravel road with those pulverizing words grounding into our ears.

The dust began to settle both inside and outside our mini van as we slowed to a stop in our parking spot.  I glanced back at our daughters, who sat with uncomfortable looking faces, and I couldn’t help but think how mortifying that experience must have been.  Sensing I need to do some damage control before we got out of the car, I turned toward my blossoming daughters and their wilting faces.  In that moment I wanted them to know I believed in their abilities to make good choices, and that I wanted them to have fun.  I wanted them to leave me feeling confident and not crushed.

I stroked my husband’s hand, and looked at the faces of our stunned girls, “You know, Daddy is just feeling protective of you.  I hope you aren’t upset that he made a big deal of there being boys at camp.  I hope you can understand why he’d be kind of over the top about this kind of thing. This is all new to him too.”

Without a moment of hesitation our oldest looked at her Dad with her innocent blue eyes and said, “ It’s OK, Daddy.  At least I know you care enough about me to say something about it.”  With a disarming smile she said, “I know you love me.”

“They are wolves and sharks, and you are what’s on the menu,” 12 words that have lived on notoriously in our family lore.   Thankfully they live on in giggles and teasing as well.  I am grateful our girls know that their Daddy is looking out for them.   And believe me, nothing gets by Daddy…  Let’s fast-forward a few summers to 2010.

This summer we attended our nephew’s wedding in Maryland.  It was a beautiful wedding, featuring the cutest Ring Bearer I have ever seen!

Here is a picture of my little man getting prepared for his close-up!

But I digress…

Through out the wedding and reception festivities my husband kept a keen eye trained on his beautiful teenage daughters.  What protective Daddy would not?  It was at the wedding rehearsal that Daddy’s keen eye trained in on one young man.  Here he is pictured with my nephew (the handsome one on the right) and 2 other groomsmen.

**Que Villan Music**  Dun! Dun! DUUUNN!

Your looking at the guy on the left:

Just in case you were looking at the other left, you were supposed to look at this guy:

He was a groomsman and long time school friend of my nephew, and I can honestly say I did not see him do anything inappropriate.  He was perfectly gentlemanly and nice.  And pretty cute in his tuxedo, don’t you think?  Ok- enough commenting from the old lady here… But, he was the nemesis of my husband for the entire weekend.  Why?  Well, because he was male, and he was being nice to Daddy’s daughter.

Of course the wedding was beautiful and we are all thrilled with our nephew Daniel’s choice.  His new wife is awesome!  Welcome to the family Jillan!  Here is a picture of the big moment!  I love this picture of them!  She is radiating JOY!

The wedding reception was beautiful and was complete with a sit down meal and dancing.  I had a lot of fun clinking my glass to prompt watching kisses of the Bride and Groom and spent most of the other time wrangling a sugar fueled Ring Bearer out on the dance floor.  When the slow dance songs came on I was just thankful my son decided it was time for a smoothie break at the table!  It was all I could manage just keeping up with him!

However, my husband and his protective eye never rested.  Apparently the eyes of a man with teenaged daughters never do!  I was just settling in to my seat at our table when he swooped in to sit beside me.  I wondered if he was going to ask me for a dance.  No such luck!

“Do you see that?!” he said.  I could tell he was having a hard time containing the volume of his voice.

“See what?” I asked.  I honestly had no idea what he was referring to.

“That!”  He said, pointing to our oldest daughter out on the dance floor.

There she was.  Our girl was out on the dance floor, looking beautiful in her blue and green floral dress, the color a near perfect match to her eyes.  Her cheeks were a rosy flush, probably from the heat of the room, but maybe it was also because she was enjoying her first slow dance with one very cute groomsman.

I sighed.  It was so sweet, as her mom, to get to witness such an event.  She is growing up, and making her own way, and they just looked so adorable out there on that dance floor.  I knew nothing about this young man who was enjoying her delicate arms circling his neck, other than that he was a good enough friend of my nephew to be invited to stand up with him on his wedding day, but I was smitten by how cute my daughter was with him out on the dance floor.  Besides, the pair lived 1,000 miles apart and she was well protected by her loyal Daddy.  With him there ready to pounce, I had nothing to worry about.

My husband did not share my sentimental view of the moment.  “What do we do?” he whispered.  He was beside himself!

“Nothing.” I whispered back.  My annoyed husband sat close to me at the table, sitting with crossed arms and looking forlorn and with out a doubt wishing desperately he could change the unfolding situation.  The dance ended and our girl floated back to her seat.  These are the moments that make for good old-fashioned crushes and it was pretty obvious our girl had one.  My girl sat down next to me and began perusing the wedding program.  She tried to look casual, but I knew she was most likely examining with a careful eye.  Part way down the page her finger stopped and she could hardly contain her giggles.  She leaned over to show me what she found.

“Don’t tell Daddy he’s right!” she said through her giggles and pointed to what the program read.  I followed her finger to the list of groomsmen and there it was in black and white.  It said his name was Grason.  Grason Wolfe.

Daddy will not soon let her forget that he is always right.

A New Chapter

About a year ago I wrote this: https://withlovemom.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/my-son-nemo-and-growing-up/ .  Boy I’m feeling those words today!

This is what I did this morning:

I took these pictures

Of my baby boy

Heading down the path

Toward a new adventure.

Did I really write all of that last year?  I hope Marlin swam away and cried…

Because, that’s exactly what I am going to go do.

Family Tradition

I grew up in a family full of tradition, rich tradition that had been passed from generation to generation.  Some of those traditions I still carry on with my own children, but there are some traditions that we have stumbled on all by ourselves.  One of my favorite traditions happened by accident, and at the time, not even by ‘happy accident’!  It all started on an important evening when I reeeeeeeally needed a babysitter…

When my husband married me 7 years ago he also gained what he affectionately refers to as his “Sparkle Girls”.  There’s a whole ‘nuther story to go along with the name, and I will tell it sometime for sure, but the point is, he was pretty in love with all three of us on the day he and I got married.  That husband of mine is a true gem, and without a doubt the man of my dreams!  My husband’s Sparkle Girls were 6 and 7 on the day he became their Daddy.   During our wedding ceremony, the four of us lit a common unity candle, symbolizing that we were all becoming one family.  Since the day they met, both of the Sparkle Girls and Daddy have foreged their own unique and significant relationship with one another.  It has been really beautiful to watch tenderness, respect, and love blossom between father and daughter over the last 7 years.

So, back on that important evening when the babysitter bailed and I longed to go out to a fancy, romantic, child free restaurant with my wonderful husband and celebrate our first anniversary, I was not very happy that our Sparkle Girls would be tagging along.  I wanted it to be just the two of us, but instead a family tradition was born.

This year we celebrated our 7th anniversary, commemorating it as we have for every anniversary meal since that first one, out together, celebrating the anniversary of our family’s birth.  Since that first anniversary we have added a son to our family and as we gathered around the steak house dining table, I delighted in the presence of my husband and our 3 children as we shared celebratory meal honoring not only our marriage, but the bond of family it represents as well.  Not to worry, we have had and continue to have our time for celebrating our marriage all alone as a couple!  This year we will celebrate by taking a trip to Italy and Switzerland this summer, all alone, but for now, this is one family tradition we cherish.

What are some of the family traditions that you share with your family?  I would love to hear about them!  Please come out of the internet shadows and share them in the comment section!  Just click on the word “comment” below and follow the prompts.  Thanks!

Our Family in 2003

Our Family in 2010

Great (with child) Expectations

Today was Mother’s Day!  I had a great day with my family and was treated like a princess.  We spent a pretty perfect day shopping at an art fair and completed the afternoon with waffle cones before dinner (because hey, I’m not cooking!).  I got to snuggle up on the couch with my 4 favorite people and watch a movie before we went out for dinner.  When we got home my little boy, who is quickly outgrowing my lap, melted me by asking me to rock him before bed, something I have always LOVED, and I capped off the evening looking at scrapbooks of my perfect little newborns. Tonight I especially loved looking at the pictures of pregnant me becoming a mother, because after all, when a child is born, so is a new mother.

These are some of my favorite pictures….

This one was taken at my first ever baby shower.  I was expecting my first born, I had learned the day before would be a daughter.  I had no idea how much her little tiny presence was going to change my life.  Nothing could prepare me for  how a 6 lb. 8 oz. itty-bitty person would consume me, and I would allow it willingly!  Upon my first gaze of her, I would feel like I had just laid my eyes on the most beautiful creation ever made, and this most exquisite creation was entrusted to my care.  I guess I love the innocence in this picture.

My first born was also the first of her generation to be born in our family.  The first grandchild, the first niece.  Our family was giddy with excitement for her arrival.  My body was no longer my own.  Something I was a little bashful about.  I was shy about my pregnant form, but I began to see that when people reached toward my growing abdomen, they were reaching out to my child.  They were already loving her.  I think this picture really captured those sentiments in me and in my sweet sister in law who was so very excited to become an aunt.

The second time around I was more comfortable in my own pregnant skin and very excited to be adding another daughter to my family.  I so much more confident in my abilities as a mother, but inside I wondered in secret, “Will I love another one as much I love the first one?  How can my heart possibly grow big enough to love another child with the depth that I have loved my first born?”  It took less than a milli-second and all of those fears faded away.  This little bundle of baby girl, all wrinkled, and rolley, with a layer of dark downey hair, looked up at me and drew me in with her slate colored eyes and quivering lips.  How could it be possible that there was yet another delicious little baby creature lying in my arms?  I had won the baby lottery.  Twice!

Maybe I should have been more worried about having enough energy!  Maybe I should have been more worried about the fact that they would only be 17 months apart and I would have 2 in diapers!  It’s hard to remember that there was a day when I was worried about not having enough love, and not worried about being exhausted!  I remember that when I look at these pictures and inside I laugh at myself.

Being pregnant with my son was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I had been ‘on the pink aisle’ for 9 years!  I didn’t even know where the ‘blue aisle’ was!  It was a whole new world for me.  Again, silly me, I wondered, “Will I love a boy like I love my girls?”  and yet I was again struck with awe in the miracle of it all.  I was carrying the child I never thought I would have!   Pregnancy was harder this time, but I knew the sacrifices would be worth it.  I wore my ever expanding waist-line with pride and joyful anticipation!

And boy did my waist line expand!!!  This picture was taken the night before my son arrived and one month before my due date!  I love the way my husband is adoring my belly, his unborn son.  And for the third time, I was blessed with the most perfect of all babies.  How could it be?  3 perfect babies?   It’s not because the babies were perfect, although I have to gush, they absolutely were, it’s because it’s true, as my mom used to tell me, a mother’s heart knows no end. I love this picture because I am full of life and of love that has no end.  ….and because that belly is enormous!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Best Part of My Birthday

I added another year to my age this week!  I don’t mind birthdays.  They are a sign of life and a marker that reminds me that the good Lord has blessed me with another years worth of days.  I also like the way my little family celebrates birthdays.  I thought I’d share with you about my favorite part.

The written words…

Somewhere along the line we decided that everyone gets to choose, for the birthday honoree, their own individual card.  This is the selection for me from my dream man and the kids for this year.  I especially love how each of my children take such care to write in the cards to add their own personal touch.  They even write messages on the envelopes!

This one is from my little guy…

I melt when I see the little pre school handwritings of my little ones.  You know, when you’re in the middle of those years when they are little and need you so much for every little thing… “Can you tie my shoes?”  “I want a snaaaaack!”  “There’s thunder, can I sleep in your room?”  and no trip to Target ever goes with out the inevitable question, “Can we visit the Toys Section?”  Wow, those years are challenging!  Not enough sleep, not enough time for yourself, everything you wear has the fingerings of slobbery graham crackers before you ever leave the house, and you’ve seen your precious little boy use your skirt as a napkin!   It feels like a time in your life when it will never be over and they will never grow up.  It feels like you will never again see the words, “Dry Clean Only” in the tag of a sweater and consider it a viable wardrobe choice.  It feels like you will never again be able to have an adult conversation with your husband where you don’t end up squaking, “What!?” like a jungle bird, at your sweet little blue eyed girl who has just interrupted for the 342 bajillionth time!  It feels like you will never be able to walk through a parking lot without experiencing the feeling of your arm being nearly ripped from the socket as your wiggly boy hop, skips, and jumps along, all while you grip his gooey little hand.  And every day you wonder, “Will the Family Room rug always be covered by all these toys?”

An then one day, they give you a give you a card, and the preschool writing has been replaced.  That little blue eyed interrupter has done it again! Interrupted the fantasy you have in your mind that she’s a little girl and she will never grow up and she will never not be your little baby girl.

Oh, she’ll tell you she’s your ‘Baby girl,” but that’s just to be cute and endearing.  She know’s all your soft spots.  And you melt.

And then she tells you how ‘prodigous’ you are …  And you can’t help but smile because she’s so stinkin’ cute.  And she’s becoming so stunningly beautiful that you know if you dare leave the table, the busy-boy at the restaurant is going to try and get her number…

And your other little blue eyed girl tells you she is finally beginning to understand who you are…

And that someday she wants to be the best mom in the world, too…  And you can’t help but see how wise she’s becoming.  She’s actually noticing all the effort you’ve put into raising her and she appreciates it!  And you can see that the next 4 years are going to go by so fast… and your little chrysalis is, very soon, going to open up.  And you imagine the amazing butterfly she will be.   What amazing butterflies that they all will be!

And you melt.

The written words are the best part.

And in case you were wondering, yes, my husband gave me one too.  He really is the man of my dreams!

Where the Time Went!

Hello!  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything of significance around here.  Sorry I’ve been away so long!  I’ve been thinking about that word ‘Busy’ and how so often I use it as a blanket excuse for not keeping up with the people who are important to me.  How many times I’ve answered the inquiry of a friend with the words, “I’ve been so busy!”  only to not really be able to come up with a single real ‘thing’ that has truly occupied my time!  So this morning I took a minute to refresh my memory and put together a little (ok, so it’s not that little…) scrapbook of where the time went.  Take a trip back to mid February with me!  We’ll pick up with just after my middle girl’s 13th birthday and Valentine’s Day and end with last night.

Swim meet season in February…

Our middle child is a swimmer.

Choir Concert!  This is our oldest.  Isn’t she cute?!

Our middle child is in this choir…

Chamber Choir.  The oldest is in this one.  Did I mention that between all 3 kids they are in 5 choirs?

Sole…  Yeah, I’m workin’ on it!

I repainted the Family Room and hung new shelves with some of my favorite candid pictures… This is the green wall…  the rest of the walls in the family room and kitchen were also repainted as well.  They are boring beige…  and I added a new valance in the kitchen.  In February.  That my dear husband just noticed.  On Friday.  3 days ago.

First Day of Spring in Iowa…  Snow!  I wanted to cry…  Instead my son and I started some seedlings of SUNflowers and Basil…

Have I mentioned that my kids get a lot of homework?  They are great students *thankfully* so I don’t have to nag them to do it, but it never seems to end!  This is Randy with our younger girl.  She loves school!  Her friends are there…

Anxiously awaiting the sprout of a seedling.  He loves, I mean LOVES, ‘making flowers’ and anything involving a garden!

The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa came for a Spring visit.  I haven’t seen him in a beard like this since around 1981!  I told our little guy that Grandpa is really Santa Claus and for just a minute I saw “the look”.  You know the one, when you know they believe you, and then the moment was gone.  That’s ok.  I know he believed me for a second and I got “the look” of pure,  innocent, suspension of all reality.

The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa and I re-stained the deck.  Mission Brown from Cabot, for inquiring minds who want to know.

We took a day trip to Springfield, Illinois while The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa was in town, because that just the kind of thing we do.   We’re road trippers.  It’s a big world out there, get out there and see some of it!  Anyway, Springfield, Illinois is where President Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Museum and Library, and Residence while he was a Lawyer and Senator are located.  It was a beautiful day!

Father and son.  I’m a blessed lady!

Our awesome teenage girls!

Our crew + The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa!  We’re standing in front of the house where Lincoln lived.

A boy, a stick and a fence.  Isn’t that what you’d want to do?

And now, let’s check in with the spouts…

Looking Great!

Track Season Begins!  First up:  100 meeter dash!

My AWESOME and HANDSOME Husband’s Birthday!  Lame-O me 😦 … This is the only picture from the party!

Oooops!  Almost forgot Easter Sunday!  This was our crew all dressed up!

Who are these young women and why do they keep calling me mommy?  I can’t believe how fast my little girls are becoming young women!  They are beautiful inside and out!

Shaggy Boy is shaggy because he had a run in with the stairway hand rail and has a nice gash under that mop of hair and we have now taken our first trip (with him) to the Emergency Room.

Preschooler Picking Pinecones at the Park…  Precious.

Time to give these plants a new pot!   By the way, what is wrong with my hand?  Frightening!  I’ll try not to scare you like that again!

This kid LOVES planting!  And playin’ outside!  We’ve had a BEAUTIFUL Spring, minus that one unruly day, and can’t get enough of the back yard!

I love how much this girl loves her baby brother… makes my heart melt!

More track meets!

Discus…

Friends…

and Shot!

Our oldest was in the Junior High Talent Show!  She sang, The Bare Necessities,” as Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book. She did a fantastic job!

My boys in a big box… er… spaceship…

Does it get anymore fun that this?

Hmmm… a leftie?  Maybe.

Or maybe not.  I wish he’d decide!

I just love that smile!

and finally… we went to a birthday party yesterday and this is what the boy came home with!

Well, the balloon helmet and a boat load of candy!

Still with me?  Thanks!  I hope you enjoyed catching up with me!  I hope you’ll catch me up too!  And I promise, I won’t leave you hanging so long next time!

She’ll Wear Blue

Entering the auditorium for freshman orientation, the screen at the front of the room reads, “Welcome Class of 2014!”   The year is a little piece of trivia that I had stuffed away in the back of my mind years ago when I finally decided what year she was going to start Kindergarten and haven’t thought a lot of it since.  My first born has an autumn birthday so it was up for debate, but in the end I decided to keep her home for a bonus year and it has proven to be an excellent decision.  Making that decision seems like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at the same time.  How is that possible?  I feel the knot of emotion tighten in my throat and steady myself.  I don’t want to be ‘that mom’ and it would be so easy to ‘get all emotional’ right now.

As we find our seats in the auditorium of the high school, I have that surreal feeling like I am living someone else’s life, because this one, I am certain, could not be mine, given my daughter is still, after all, just a little girl.  Isn’t she?  Yeah, I know…  not really.

Truthfully, over the years I have not given a lot of thought about the day she will graduate from high school.  She has always been fairly ‘easy’.  Nothing has ever really thrown me for a loop with her.  It’s just been an assumption that some day these high school days too would come.  Now, as I listen to the guidance counselor begin his ‘This is how much high school has changed since you were in it you old parents’ spiel, those thoughts of the next four years, those mysterious school years that, like ‘Kindergarten’, are given special names and not just a number, have my heart beating just a little bit faster!  Not because I don’t think she is prepared or capable, on the contrary, I’m proud to say she is a far better student than I was in every way!  No, it is because this man giving his shtick keeps talking about how fast it will go.

I find myself thinking back to when I graduated from high school.  One of my favorite photos of that night is of my father and me.  We are standing together in the stadium, he in his navy blue sport coat and tie, a proud smile and misty eyes, and me, wearing my emerald green graduation robe and mortar board hat, my entire face beaming and in my hands a bag of confetti.  The moment seems like yesterday and then I am pulled back to reality.  The guidance counselor scrolls through his Power Point presentation and the photo in my mind transforms.  This time the picture is still of me, but now I’m the one grinning with pride and misty eyed, and the beaming graduate is now my lovely girl… and thanks to the image on the screen a new piece to the unknown puzzle comes in to view.  She’ll wear blue.

Class of 1990, my how time flies!

Excuse Me While I Rant! My Perspective on Haitian Adoption

A friend of mine posed the question; “I’m thinking… why are people so anxious to “help” the children of Haiti by adopting them, removing them from their culture, their country, their language and their homes? Wouldn’t it be better to help rebuild and invest in the children there, so they can develop into the country’s future leaders?”

The comment got me to thinking about the current crisis in Haiti.  While I’m sure that my friend has the best of intentions when asking this question, I found myself having a pretty strong reaction to it.  It’s a busy morning for me here, so pardon my unedited and hardly proof-read response.  I just couldn’t not write anything about it!

Perhaps it was a slight leaning toward the vilification of adoptive parents.  Or maybe because it conjured in me the idea that Haiti, even before this crisis, was a delightful place to raise a child.  I am going to attempt give words to these strong feelings, for my self, but so that I can be a voice in some very small way for the orphans of Haiti (and all over the world for that matter.)

By now it should be obvious to all of us that Haiti is in a crisis beyond any of our imaginations.  Before the earthquake, Haiti was already the #1 most impoverished country in the western hemisphere.  Number 1.  So lets not kid our selves here, with an 80% poverty rate, and an abject poverty rate at over 50% (pre-quake) there are a lot of very practical needs of Haitian children that are not being met.

People all over the world have opened their wallets and given money to the people of Haiti.  That is a wonderful gesture of good will and very generous, but in the end some problems need more than our collective paycheck, and they need it now.  While my children all went to sleep in their own beds last night with full tummies and a hug from their parents, it is heartbreaking to me to think that there are children in Haiti, and around the world, that don’t have that.  I think prospective adoptive parents are looking at the situation in Haiti and from a really practical, tangible standpoint have stepped up.  Not only have they opened their wallets, they have opened their homes and hearts.  That takes guts.

It will be years before any of the money being funneled to Haiti becomes anything tangible for these kids, and while it’s a great story, “Earthquake Victim Child Rises From Rubble Of Haiti To Become New Charismatic Leader!” it is not going to be the case for most of those children.  Sadly, the odds are not in their favor.   It is likely that without parental support from people who are emotionally and financially dedicated to them, they will become the next even more impoverished generation, and on top of that they will be parentless.  I find that extremely sad.

Most people willing to raise an orphan are not able to uproot and move to the child’s home country in order to provide them a home.  And to back up a little bit, we are talking about adoptive parents who are not looking for healthy, white, newborn, “perfect in every way” babies, and we are talking about kids who have been through horrific trauma, are sick (HIV is rampant in Haiti), and poverty stricken.  I’m wondering which is worse, living in abject poverty without parents, or learning a new culture and language?  I know many adoptive parents, in fact, embrace their child’s native culture and earnestly try to teach them about it.  I think about how I have grown to love my husband’s family and traditions because they are a part of him, whom I love and adore, and can’t imagine an adoptive parent not embracing the culture of a child they love and adore as well.   Adoption isn’t a neat and tidy solution.  These parents have signed up to get down and dirty and they have their work cut out for them.   They certainly are doing more than many of us rubberneckers!  Many of us gawk at our televisions and send $10 text donations, while they have signed on to a lifetime of support for one person, possibly even a group of siblings, and have agreed to be forever changed by the events in Haiti.  I hate to say it, but it is likely that I will be as changed by the events in Haiti as I was by the events in Indonesia in 2005…

In the 10-20 years that Haiti is rebuilding the buildings, those adoptive parents will be building people, and hopefully they will be instilling in them a pride of where they have come from.  Hopefully because theses Haitian children raised with the love and support of parents, raised with stability and security that comes from parents committed to them, hopefully they will naturally have a compassion and heart for their native country and people, and they will become citizens of either country that are positive influences for us all.

Around the time my first daughter was born I heard a quote from a man named Ed Cogar that has stuck with me and I have thought a lot about it in regard to the orphans in Haiti, “It is easier to raise a child than to repair an adult.”   I applaud the parents who are stepping up in the most tangible way for the orphans of Haiti and around the world.  I believe they are most heroic.