Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 2


We never saw Jan again.

We got a running start and together, we jumped right off the ledge of needles and procedures and uncertainty. Our legs stretched out just far enough to reach the other side and before we could blink, we were on a whole new kind of ride. This one felt less rickety. Less jarring. We no longer braced ourselves each month for that familiar free-fall that left our hope battered and achy. We had climbed off the roller coaster and on to the ferris wheel, where we would come nose-to-nose with ups and downs, but where we felt much safer. We held hands in that swinging seat and noticed right away the loveliness of the view.

Right from the start, the idea wormed its way into our brains that we would be adopting a little girl. You could not have convinced me otherwise. I had always wanted loads of girls. We already had our girl name chosen. So, while the idea of a new kind of family took root in our hearts, we talked about where our Ruby would come from, what she would look like.

That first, slow ascent to the top was filled with big ideas and very little information. We knew nothing about adoption. We requested packets from a couple of agencies in our area and before long, we were on our way to Indianapolis to attend an informational meeting at Bethany Christian Services.

I noticed right away that most of the other couples seemed infinitely more knowledgeable about adoption. They all looked like real adults - capable, earnest, not especially given to the whims of fashion or style. They were sensible and generous in the exact way that parents, in my mind, should be. I tugged at my cute cardigan, probably found in the Junior's department, and wished I hadn't even bothered with make-up. I did my very best to appear mature and motherly and all the while, I felt like an impostor. We nodded our way through muddy terminology - dossier, referral, home study. We sat up straight and drank Sprite from paper cups as we swatted imperceptibly at nagging thoughts - we are too young, we don't know how to be parents, who would ever give us a baby? The swinging seat lurched ever-so-slightly, for the very first time as we came to understand all that would be required of us, when all I wanted was to sign a paper and order up my baby.

At the close of the meeting, an employee at Bethany came to talk with us, asking first which country we would be most interested in.

Romania!

Romania has not allowed international adoption for several years....

OK...China!

Both parents have to be at least 30 years old to adopt from China. You are both too young.

Then the truth came out - We really did not care what country our child came from. We could never begin to choose. It didn't matter.

With kind eyes that brimmed confidence in us, she said, "Have you ever thought about South Korea?"

We slowed to a stop, and still holding hands, we looked out around us at so much potential and so much love. She had pointed us right in the direction of our child, still utterly unknown to us, still very, very far away. None of that mattered. We swelled with all the hope of a promise. We breathed deep and held tighter, ready for the next go-round.

______________________________________________

Join me here next Tuesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 3

Monday, August 30, 2010

For You, Me, and Everyone We Know (or at least, for me)

Combing through our bookshelves, I stumbled upon a throw-back devotional from 1991. My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers (Copyright 1935).

I reached for it and did what I always do - I looked at the top corner of the closed book. Sure enough, there were nearly 20 pages dog-eared - my indisputable mark that the book is good.

I remembered my very favorite passage from the book...something about an arrow and patience and romance. I knew its corner would be turned, its words underlined and marked. This was one that I had read and re-read. One morning just before my Junior year of college, I used it as the foundation for incoming Freshman devotions. (Guess who was sitting out in that crowd, unbeknownst to me?)

Sure enough - May 8. There it was, outlined in faded, yellow highlighter, tiny arrows inked black. The words that I clung to 15 years ago somehow mean even more to me now, as a real grown-up.

"Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says - 'I cannot stand anymore'. God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly...."


"Faith is the heroic effort of your life; you fling yourself in reckless confidence on God."

"The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvelous things all the time."

Enjoy this Monday, friends. Fling yourselves in reckless confidence.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer of the Peach

I do declayah, this is the Summah of the Peach!

I declared last Summer the Summer of Country, but Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban and all the Good Ol' Boys done ruirned that, this year. (If only every country song could be this good. This kind of country music makes me wish I could say "won't" instead of "want". But I cain't. I just cain't.)

The Summer of the Peach began with Glow Haven...

My friend Carla, whom I now call Saint Carla, showed me the ropes of canning peaches.

We thought it best for Canning Day photos to focus only on the hands, baby. Only on the hands.

(Have we ever talked about my double-jointed thumbs?)

We put us up some swell peaches, and we didn't even blow the place up.

Thank you, Saint Carla!

And I'll surely thank you again, come frost January when I find myself wrapped burrito-style in my ugly blue blanket with peach juice all a'dribble.

The Summer of the Peach, coupled with my recent, tragic bout of snuck-up-on-me lactose intolerance, found me many a'morning enjoying this.

Who am I kidding... I always had two.

I've also become a big believer in this. In fact, I started a fan page for "homemade" Jiffy waffles with a drizzle of syrup and a chopped up peach on Facebook. (Or was that just a dream?)

This dumb thing was a big flop. I like to call it the Woeful Peach Omelette.

Many apologies, friends with the beautiful, new baby whom I served this to. It sounded so good on paper...

Incidentally, the Summer of the Peach also included a trip down meatball lane.

But that is really neither here, nor there.

Because this post was supposed to be all about the peaches. And as Calvin would say, "Speaking of peaches...." He's a big fan of the "speaking of..." transition, you know. Last night I used the word "speak" in conversation and he interrupted to say, "Speaking of speaking, I need to speak to you." And then we both doubled over in laughter. He surprised even himself with his ridiculosity.

Where are the peaches, Lady? This was supposed to be about peaches!

Alright, alright.

I'll leave you with two final peach tales. One is happy. The other? So very sad.

First the good news: Peaches and Cream Shortcake. I invented this, ya'lls. Jiffy shortcakes, sliced up, sugared down peaches, with a dollop of cream cheese whipped with powdered sugar, vanilla and a splash of OJ. Mmm Hmmm.

And the bad news: Paula Deen's peach cobbler. I had such high hopes for this, and it went so terribly, terribly awry. I think my self-rising flour had up and kicked the bucket. All's I know is, wasn't nothing rising up in my kitchen. What I had on my hands was an open-faced peach pie with an exorbitantly thick, leaden crust. It was alright warm, and in a pinch. But once those peaches cooled off, it went downhill, but quick. Next time around, I'll be sure to bleach my teeth, pop in my electric blue contact lenses, and fluff my white wig first. Maybe that was the problem.

Many apologies, family members with the beautiful, new baby whom I served this to. It sounded so good on paper...

Since this Summer of the Peach has been so overwhelmingly good to me, I have made the executive decision to end on a high note. Fresh peach cupcakes with brown shuga frosting.

In a word? Salivicious.

Juicily yours,
Madam Peach

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where I'm At - In The Second Person

Isn't it strange when God tells you to sell your dream house and you wrestle over it until you're really, really sure, then you put the dang thing on the market and get all excited about it and....nothing happens?

And the days pile up, all sloggy-like; half-baked bricks tossed only in the general vicinity in such a way that they do not form straight lines and angles, but rather a haphazard pile-up. A muddy incline.

The days pile up and the sun finally begins to retreat just enough to allow for proper lung expansion and you know that the kids are starting school, which means that Summer must be dwindling, but you have opened the windows and the house smells alive again and the garden does not seem like such a far-away, remote jungle (even if it looks like one) and you remember all of the things you love about Summer and it feels like the very first day.

You remember that your house is for sale, but only because you see the digits at the end of the lane, Sharpied onto the sign with your very hand.

The phone does not ring.

Your celebrity crush says that now is the worst time to sell a house in a decade, but hey, at least you heard it from him.

Still, you can't help thinking that this is not the way that it was supposed to happen, back when you knew you were going to do this crazy thing. Crazy stories are supposed to be obvious, undeniable, crazy. They should be page-turners. And ain't no one turning this page.

12 cookies are passed around the table at the Chinese Buffet. Your slip of paper reads like the Holy Spirit - "Right now you need to be patient." It also tells you the Chinese word for "Eggplant", which doesn't seem quite as significant.

You pray for patience, but your words belie a thinly cloaked plea to be released from the necessity of patience.

You pray for truth to sustain you and the pages splay where they will and you are sure you will not find that shiny gemstone to drop into your pocket. And then you read, "Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense!" (Isaiah 54:2) and you remember that God is the King of Funny, so you laugh and you pen a smiley face in the margin and hope for a sapphire or an emerald on another day.

And you wait.

And you worry, truth be told, just a little.

And you wait, knowing that every single day is one day closer to that crazy page-turner where with the flip of a wrist, an old chapter becomes new.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 1


All day long, my big boy and I have taken turns busting out into, "Light-light-light up the sky, you light up the sky to show me you are with me..." (Listen here.)

What does that have to do with adoption? Nothing really, except for the fact that I would be singing alone were it not for one of the shiniest gifts of my life here on earth. Adoption is something I stumbled into. Somewhere in my late twenties, I bumped my shin on it and now, I wear it like a badge. It has shaped who I am, it has shaped my whole view on the world. It has even straightened up the edges of my thoughts on the world after this.

Profound, right? Well, I know it sounds exaggerated, but it's just the plain truth.

My husband and I have adopted thrice. We are Mommy and Daddy to Calvin (5 - "and a half!", born in South Korea), Ruby (newly 4, born in South Bend, IN) and Silas (2 in September, born in South Korea).

My hope for this series is that it will serve as a stand-alone series, linked up in its permanent home on the side-bar of my blog. I hope to give the ins and outs and ups and downs and zig-zags of adoption and becoming a family. I hope I will answer your questions, because the single most-asked question I receive from readers is not about paint colors, or cameras, or farmgirlishness, or salsa. It is adoption. And I can promise you this - there are few things in this life that cut straight to the heart of me quite like this story does. Should we ever become friends, and I hope we do, I will probably urge you, at the most remote opportunity, to adopt. I don't see a good reason why more people do not do it. It is biblical and necessary and it will knock your socks off, in the best possible way.

Before the Beginning

From time to time I hear of people who get married and just decide to adopt. They just know they want to. They know it's important. And they must have a hunch that it's part of God's plan for their family. I am inclined to envy these people, just for a moment. I feel like they must be a little wiser than I to understand that adoption, beyond necessity, is the gift of a lifetime.

For us, the decision was born from necessity. As such, the necessity aspect merits a paragraph or two. (Or ten.) Maybe it's the story behind the story, or at least one of them.

Growing up, I was never really a "baby person". I babysat for money, because that's just what girls my age, in my town, did. But I didn't love it. I wouldn't have done it for free, like some that I knew. Still, I never doubted in that young, hazy way, that one day I wanted to have children of my own. In fact, I had a strange feeling that I wanted several. Though it didn't entirely make sense to me at the time, I can look back now and see that I saw in my own Mama the truth that loving all different kinds of random babies was not a requirement for being a fun, loving, present mom. I saw in her that even though I didn't want to grow up to be an elementary school teacher, even though I would not be the church nursery chairperson, I still might have what it took to love being Mommy one day.

I boxed those thoughts up, folding them into the tidiest square, and shelved them in the way-back, where I knew I would be able to find them when the day came.

Then, I got married. I got a job. I got another job. I did what I did, which was to push myself toward success in each opportunity. Five years into our marriage, living in an over-priced, slightly ghetto apartment in Arlington, VA, after landing an exciting job that I was not qualified for, the day came. That hidden switch was flipped. Why? I really don't know. But almost overnight, I wanted to be a Mama.

The flipping of the switch launched the roller-coaster, that would become our lives for the next two years, into motion. I was not especially surprised that I did not get pregnant right away. I wasn't especially tortured over it. Yes, it was frustrating. It became redundant, quickly. I was the hamster on the wheel, running, running, but going no where.

Eight months later, we were back in Indiana and I scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist named Jan. He was a he. I fibbed and told him we had been trying for a year, which was what I had heard was the requirement. He, in return, told me that a healthy woman at my age (27) should seek help after six months.

We did the drills and jumped through hoops. Most of the time, I was not an emotional basket case. I was frustrated and tired of it all, but I was very hopeful. Month after month, I would sit in Jan's office and he would look at me all perplexed and say, "Why aren't you pregnant? I really thought you'd be pregnant by now." I would look back at him, even more perplexed, and not say a word.

I Googled message boards and home remedies. I chugged cough syrup on certain nights and thought fertile thoughts and flew through home ovulation predictor kits. Each month, I rode that rickety car up the hill of hope. I sat at the top, suspended, for days, then I plummeted, the metal bar pushing into me the whole way down.

Jan did procedures and surgeries and more blood work and every result came back normal. Before long, I was up on the drugs. Hiney shots, ya'll. Jan informed me that I could do a total of four rounds. My aunt (a nurse) would shoot me in the hiney and a predetermined number of days later I would go back in to the office for an ultrasound to ensure that I would not end up with six babies, a reality tv show, a busted-up marriage, bad hair extensions and a humiliating DWTS gig. I would get the green light, then a week or so later, I would go back for another procedure designed to put everything exactly where it should be under optimal conditions, thereby maximizing the potential for success.

As you can see, things had taken a turn for the...clinical.

Jan, whom I respected greatly for his conservative approach to infertility, had discussed with us the fact that most couples had success by the 4th round. If we continued to defy the odds, our only option would be In Vitro Fertilization. From the start, we felt strongly (for reasons mostly unknown) that this was not a road we wanted to travel. Never once did Jan push us in that direction. In fact, he warned us of the expense, the health implications for the baby born under these circumstances and the risk of going into debt only to remain baby-less.

After our second round of Clomid and the whole rigmarole, still lying in the office in my paper gown, my eyes welled up, and tears coursed down my cheeks, puddling in my ears. At that precise moment, I was done. I was not hopeful, that it would be successful. Cory and I decided right then and there that if it didn't work, we were calling an adoption agency.

It didn't work.

______________________________________________

Join me here next Tuesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 2

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How We Spent Our 11th Anniversary


Getting up early
Sleeping in
Fearless Flying
Stitches in the chin

Family visits
Looking nice
Annoying waiters
Mojito ice

Indecision
Jason Bateman
Grocery shopping
Milk and bacon

Pukey stomach
Sleepless night
Crazy kids
Feels just right



I never knew, 11 years ago, how much life would change. I never knew how good life could be. I never knew that sleeping in would be a better gift than a fancy bauble.

I never knew I'd have to go back two years to find a decent picture of the two of us.

Happy Anniversary, CMB. Thanks for being so cute and maintenancy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sundress Day

Sundresses are one of the happiest things about Summer.

I dare you to disagree.

And don't let her fool you - she agrees wholeheartedly.

I know the whole lot of you is clamoring for boots and chunky tights and cardis.

And I'm with you, I suppose.


But first, one last, sticky-air tribute to the dresses that fancy us Cape Codders, the frocks that make Winter feel miles away.

To the sundress!

{clink!}


For more everyday things to love, head over here.

*EDIT*
My dress was purchased 3 years ago from my beloved TJ Maxx. Ruby's was found 2 years ago at Old Navy. Score!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

His.

"We are God's idea.

We are His.

His eyes.

His face.

His hands.

Miscreduced
His touch.

We are Him.


Look deeply into the face of every human being on earth, and you will see His likeness. Though some appear to be distant relatives, they are not. God has no cousins, only children."

-Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder


Sixth photo via my sister-in-law's blog.
Last photo
via my sister's blog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Big, Brave Day

I know all the Mamas are doing it, but I can't help m'self.

Mr. Lee started school today. The miracle is that I got him out the door (willingly) in attire that was not made entirely of mesh. The secret? The undershirt. I bought him a bonus pack of white undershirts (just like Daddy wears) and he was good to go. He also wore his NBA sweatband all morning, but decided on just the orange wrist band when Daddy told him that the teacher may ask him to put the sweatband in his back pack when he got to school.

Baby steps.

I did not shed a tear. Is that ok? Of course I felt those pangs of nostalgia and the yearning to turn back the clock a few years. I longed for one more ruffle of his homegrown baby mohawk. I wished I could really remember his baby gibberish. I saw those years flash before me and yes, it was hard to comprehend that we went so quickly from all of that to this.

But it's time and that just can't be helped. I was excited for him.

One of my biggest jobs as a mommy is to teach my kids independence. I knew that this would be hard for him. He's a homebody. He's also double-dipped in honey and rolled in sugar. He is affectionate and loving and holds my hand everywhere we go. If left up to him, he would not have gone to pre-school (the precise reason he was enrolled) and he most certainly would opt out of Kindergarten.

Now, if we were kicking around sending him off to Junior High? Well, he'd be all over that. But little dude gets jittery and nervous in the wake of construction paper and crayons and all things kid-friendly.

The best news of all is that his best friend is in his class.

And in case you didn't know, this is what best friends do on that first Big, Brave Day.

His eyes took on a certain sheen at the very last minute, but my prayers for a courage fill-up were answered and he soldiered on.

For the next three hours, I stayed busy mashing potatoes and baking a cake that ended up tasting a little like a peach omelet. I watched those minutes tick. I willed more courage and maybe even some fun.

Waiting for that bus to come into view, I felt blind-date antsy. I can honestly say that I've never been happier to see a school bus.

He did it.

Tonight, heading out to meet his brand-new cousin, Baby Macy, he said, "OK, maybe I do like Kindergarten."

Can you hear it? That's music, baby.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cory's Project

Back when our world started to change, Cory and I decided that we were going to start looking harder for creative ways to reach out from our comfy cocoon to the world around us. What had once been a blurry notion that there were many suffering people out there somewhere started to come sharply into focus. Once that image was fixed in our hearts, the only thing left to do was something. Anything. Our understanding began to shift from knowing to acting. Gone were the days of chalking it all up to blessings undeserved. It wasn't good enough, and we knew it.

The thing about it is, once you hear God speak very specifically, you can't pretend that it didn't happen. And when He starts in with what seems a little like crazytalk, when things get so jumbled up and weird that you might be tempted to tell yourself that you're just not thinking clearly, that's when it really starts to get interesting. Especially if you happen to be Cory.

Because if you happen to be Cory, that's when you end up training for a half-marathon.

Homes has not run since High School, and I should know, because I'm the expert on Not Running.

{Gratuitous Runner's Calves Shot}

He's doing the work, putting in the time. He is running for World Vision, on behalf of Africans whose very lives hinge on clean water and basic nourishment.

In just a few weeks, he'll run the Chicago half-marathon, along with his brother and sister-in-law.

I'll be there, doing my thang, cheering them on and maybe eating some salsa.

I'm proud of my Honey for saying yes to something that seemed so impossible, so positively funny, all those months ago. I'm inspired by his willingness to sacrifice in such a personal way.


*For anyone itching to get involved, you can go here to donate to the cause.

Guest Post - SweatPant Couture

I am day-tripping again, this time over at SweatPant Couture. (Love that name!!)

Stacey hosts super fun Mama interviews, and today she asked me to join in!

Click here to hop over and say hello.


ps - Thank you all for your comments about Calvin Lee's decision. I can't stop thinking about it and it's so much fun to feel the excitement of my blog friends, too. Thanks for rejoicing with us!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Plans Change

I had big plans to write about the horrific state of my vegetable garden.

And I was brewing up one heck of an analogy between the meaning of life and rotten peaches.

I thought I might whine a little about the weekend coming to an end before I was ready.

I had my plans, but some plans were meant to be changed.

My boy asked Jesus into his heart tonight.

I was not expecting it. I fumbled around for the pause button, knowing all the while that there wasn't one. I had always pictured Cory by my side when "this" happened. And I surely never imagined it coming on the heels of a bedtime battle.

My guy has made leaps and bounds, but he's still prone to anxiety. He worries about bad dreams and he hasn't said so, but I know he's nervous about school starting on Tuesday.

Now, come Tuesday, I'll be sending him off with his new watch, his gigantic backpack and Jesus in his pocket.

I never imagined it this way, but I couldn't possibly have imagined it better.



*All photos courtesy of CMB. Holla.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Today I...

~ Woke up smack-dab in the middle of a sad dream that lingered through lunch.

~Took Calvin Lee to meet his new teacher and held his clammy hand, hoping to pulse courage through osmosis.

~ Brushed lion hair.

~ Ate poolside PB&Js with kiddos and cousins and sisters and friends.

~ Was sassed by a Little too big for her four-year old britches.

~ Waffled between the white shirt and the grey.

~ Went on a double-date to a restaurant that smelled of plumbing catastrophe.

~ Gave a shout-out to a stranger reading The Help. (Read the book, ya'lls.)

~ Saw a movie that was funny, but not phenomenal.

~ Contemplated owlishness.

~ Lamented Summer's end.

~ Rejected (again) the television preacher-man lie that favor with God requires $1,000 -payable to him.

~ Daydreamed peach cobbler.

~ Imagined the future.

~ Washed pans and pants.

~ Looked forward to tomorrow and the day after that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sweet Cheeks is 4

Birthdays around these parts are low-key. We will celebrate with cupcakes and extended family on Sunday, but today? Today our goal was just to make one little girl, freshly foured, feel like the Princess of the Palace.

I did not hang balloons or streamers or a hand-painted sign or even the Martha Steward pom poms. I did make Pillsbury Orange Rolls and stuck four candles in the tops. (Note to self: Piping hot cinnamon rolls will melt candles.) We also had watermelon (a Ruby favorite) and she was served on a special Birthday Princess plate (aka a piece of flowered, thrift-store china).

It was her idea to don the Purple Princess attire. It was perfect.

I smooched her 'til my lips hurt. And we took turns saying what we liked about Ruby the best. Calvin said "She plays with me!" Silas said "Abickabicka". I told her that she's very kind and a good helper with Siley and that I love it when she gives me hugs. Daddy likes her energetic and daring spirit.

Part of our celebration day included being lax with the PBS Kids shows. After Dinosaur Train, she opened her gift from us - a gymnastics leotard and lessons, courtesy of us and GG (Great Grandma). Her first class is next week.

She got dressed, I tamed her "Lion Hair", and she was all set for her Daddy Date to McDonalds and a matinee of Toy Story 3. Just the two of 'em.

Later this afternoon, we had another special present waiting for her, from her Birth Mama.

I read the poem and my voice cracked. Her gift was a pair of pink butterfly wings and a butterfly necklace. Her gift is a circle of family wider than most. Her gift is love from all directions that never stops circling back.

Our gift is Ruby River.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today Was Kindergarten Registration

(About to walk out the door...)
Me: Oh, I need to grab the checkbook.
Calvin: Why do you need the checkbook?
Me: So I can pay for your books.
Calvin: Oh, right! My chemistry books!
Me: ...No...You won't be learning chemistry in kindergarten.
Calvin: (pause) Oh. But the checkbook is for my math and science books, right?
Me: (I got nothing.)
Calvin: Do you know what my favorite thing is to learn?
Me: What?
Calvin: Math! And Chemistry! I just wish someone would teach me about chemistry...

Uh-oh.