Monday, June 30, 2014

Ruby's Family Portraits (and why it's hard to be the mama)

What we have on our hands around here is a small pack of budding artists. All 3 of the littles draw their brains out on an almost-daily basis. I buy reams of copy paper from Kroger like it's my J.O.B.  (Except for the last time it wouldn't ring up right, so they just gave it to me. You have my heart, Kroger!)

Recently, unbeknownst to me, Ruby drew portraits of our family.

I took the liberty to caption the pictures, and I'm quite confident everyone will be pleased with my interpretations.

 "I'm Ruby! I have curly hair and a toothy grin. I'm obviously the kind of cute little girl you'd want to spend the day with."

"I'm Silas! I love stars and all kinds of sparkly things. I jump and dance around. My jazz hands are on autopilot. You just can't top the fun I am!"

"I'm Calvin! I'm friendly and sweet and I love to engineer and build. Look at what I just made with my Legos!"

"I'm Cory! I'm a fun, happy Dad. I specialize in tickling and general joy and happiness. I love to take pictures, and I really love wearing shirts featuring myself taking pictures."

"It's me! Howard! I'm the coolest cat around. Heck, I wear people clothes. Don't let my squinty cat eyes fool you, I'm a deep sea of serenity. Meowww."

 "I'm Mommy."

I have to say, the hair is a ringer.

Welp, I'm off to hide under the covers forever and pray for the sort of life circumstances that don't cause my sweet children to picture me as a psychotic, terrifying, cross-eyed maniac.

Goodbye Forever,

**Editorial note: Ruby claims I'm "looking at my fingernail polish" as opposed to getting ready to back-hand someone*. The problem is, she also claims I'm "smiling" and "cute" in her rendering. Also, I have painted my fingernails zero times in the past 4 years and I'm pretty sure that one time when she was 3 didn't make a huge impression.

*Which I have done never in ever and hopefully you know this, but I'm right about now, I'm questioning almost everything.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

In Which My Blog Stages A Revolt

Well, hello there.
Happy Saturday!

I'm here in my pajamas, savoring the first Saturday spent at home in weeks.

First of all - it seems FPFG is wallowing in her rebellious, sinful nature right now. And by "her", I mean the blog, not the lady writing the blog, though that could be a whole 'nother post, because FPFG The Writer has "enjoyed" a few quick benders into selfishness and unnecessary sarcasm of late. And salsa gluttony.

But anyway, my blog is broken-ish. Most or many of you are not finding me in your readers, though to complicate matters, some of you are having no trouble at all. I'm working hard to get this fixed, but in the meantime, several of you have mentioned that it fixed the problem when you deleted my feed and then re-added it.

You should know, when I hear about things like feeds and feedlies it just makes me hungry. I should never have been trusted with a blog.

So, give that a try and spread the word, if you know of others who read.

I have tens of twenties of things I want to tell you about, but I feel compelled to wait so I don't have to repeat myself. (Do you know about my legendary loathing of repeating myself? It's a thing.)

In the meantime, I'm reading 3 books and enjoying entire days where I don't fire up the laptop.

My kids are deep in the throes of "Playing Dentist". Yesterday it was Calvin and Ruby, "Every tooth has gunk on it. I'm afraid we'll have to operate." Today it's Silas and Ruby. Something about our new Ikea lamp inspired them, and it'll be weeks before we see the limits of this awakening.

My agenda today includes proper menu planning on yellow legal pads (swoon!). The end.
Tomorrow? I'll be junking.

The weekend is shaping up nicely!

I wanted to give you a peek at a cutie Fatherhood Project video of kids talking about their dads. (My littles make an appearance.)

My sister also sent me the link to this video, which was taken when Calvin was 26 months old, eons and many homes ago.

Let it be duly noted that it was an overzealous Auntie who titled the video, not this Mama. :) Regardless, THIS KID. I mean, really. He sang ALL the time when he was 2 and 3. His specialty was hymns. I can't even handle his perfectly round face right now. It's killing meh.

Goodbye forever.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Summer Vibe & Painting With Weeds

We are in the thick of summer.
How did this happen? And when? And how?

It's already late June.
As my mom would say, "Great Scotts!"

Our June was supposed to be frazzled and jam-packed and stressful. But a couple of things got scratched off the list, and what we've found is some wide open space. Turns out, it's exactly what we needed.

Somewhere in my heart, I knew I needed some legit down-time. Our summers usually involve lots of doctors appointments and often a physical move to a new house. But this one is rolled out before us so nicely. It's silk shantung. It's the cotton with just enough polyester to make it extra smooth. We're all breathing easy and the living is good.

But I mean, ask me in a couple more weeks.

Cory and I recently watched a documentary on solitary confinement in prisons. The typical, upbeat fluff we prefer. They interviewed one young man and he was all, "I love it! I don't get what the big deal is. I like the quiet." The problem was, it was only day 3. One week later, he was causing himself physical harm just so they'd have to let him out and take him to medical.

And no, I did not just refer to summer as solitary confinement in prison. I definitely did not just draw a correlation to incarceration or self-harm.

Thanks for asking.

I just feel strongly compelled to lean into the known. I want to experience the bliss of boredom. Not just my kids, but me, too. I'm experiencing an overwhelming urge to not be bound by expectations of any kind. We're doing what we want, when we want it. We're staying home for entire days and puttering around.

We have things going on, but only if we want them.

So far the rhythm we've found involves either a long walk or a bike ride. (Today's ride was conducted under a light rain shower. Hello, magical transport! We loved you!)

We're working together to keep the house intact, but I'm not stressing over it. (You're shocked. I know you are. Could you just pretend?)

We're just doing our thang, that's all.
So far, it's pretty wonderful. A little boring, too, but that's what we're going for.

Last week I took Silas and Ruby on a rogue adventure.
Naturally, Silas strapped on a hot pink fanny pack and Ruby wore a janky feather she had colored in rainbow stripes.

We rode along our ultra-rad bike path, and it's official, I'm never leaving this town. Not ever.
(Read this to determine just how seriously you should take my bold proclamations.)

We were on the hunt for rando bits of nature to use as paint brushes, because these are my two painting-fiends and, well, they both rock a rando vibe.

Alert: I didn't get any cute "action" shots, because remember what I said about no obligations or agendas?

  But this is what our "brushes" looked like when we were done.

 And this... just some...

 ...of our art.

Guys. This was so fun. And free. Start to finish, it helped us spend a solid 2 hours. That's not nothing, these days.

In the midst of all this humdrum splendor, I wondered if I might just temporarily abandon Ye Olde Blog, but it seems I just don't have that in me. I like coming here. I like writing it down.

It's freeing to share bits of our ordinary, simple life.
And all the while, my mind is working, working, never ever taking a break. So I'll have other things to say, too.

But the main thing is: No hurry. No worry.

It's summertime, baby. Join me.

ps - A few of you have mentioned that my posts aren't showing up in your feeds. Ack! I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on or how to fix it. But let me know in the comments if you're having trouble, too. I'm trying to track down a solution! In the meantime, you can always find me on facebook and that's also a great way to bring others into the FPFG party. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

38 Special

A few days ago I turned 38.
The day flew in and back out, but it left me feeling strangely wizened. I'm probably just grasping for straws again, but I'm inclined to believe nothing is wasted. There's value in everything, including the birthdays that seem like such a non-issue, you almost didn't even notice they happened.

To tell you the truth, it felt like a relief to have finally hit the age where I don't secretly hope for some fuss. I was left with two of my littles and a day with no agenda. It was up to the three of us to make the day a good one.

So that's what we did.

Here's some 38 Special wisdom for you: If you have 3 kids spaced pretty closely together and all you want in the world is for them to get along, but it seems like a total pipe dream, just send one of them away. It appears to not even matter which kid goes.

Remove the opportunity for covert triangulation. #winning

I took a muggy bike ride with the two littlests and Charles and ended up with the makings for a super fun craft. (I cant' talk about it right now because it's June and no one's reading blogs and I lose my will to write on a daily basis, so what I'm saying is, this is not the time for killing two birds with one stone. This is the time to milk the fodder.)

That sounded gross.

Our hands stained with rogue, city mulberries, we took a lap by the park then back home again for turkey-on-wheat.
The splash pad directly across the street from us languished woefully underused by the Martins last summer. There's no excuse. This summer, I'm determined to wear it straight out. It's nice to traipse over without the expectation of having to LOVE IT SO MUCH. We can go for an hour and walk back home if we want to. Plus, it's free. Plus, it's riddled with neighborhood kids.

Plus, there's a giant walnut tree for moi.

I brought a stack of books and loved every page.
I underlined with reckless abandon. I got goose-bumps in the early summer sun.
I took a birthday selfie and totally didn't plan the whole "I tip my hat to you", because who would do something like that? My claws have minds of their owns.

Here's where things get really good.

We came home, had popsicles, and settled in for some couch potato-ing. The sky was cloudy, but not even a little grim. I had wild plans to fold laundry then read for an hour...when, without warning, the atmosphere loomed navy blue with a greenish cast. There was much branch snapping and leaf whipping.


I can't make you understand my love for summer storms.
I can't possibly convey my fervor for power outages.
The three of us sat cuddled on the couch with Siley's fortuitous flashlight bounty spread around us like a promise.

It was the best gift EVAH.

Because I'm some kind of lucky, Cory's mom offered to keep the kids so we could have dinner out.

We picked our favorite place in town, the fancyish Venturi.
If I could eat there every week, I would.

I mean, they char the bread. Expertly.

I don't think of myself as someone who cares about this sort of thing, but the servers all have very enviable haircuts. It helps, somehow. It nudges the experience up a little.

It's settled: this is my favorite person on the planet, and I'm not just saying so because he agreed to split a pizza in order to lessen my unnecessary-splurge guilt.

After dinner we walked to the coffee shop and grabbed coffee (him) and a slice of chocolate tunnel cake (duh), my birthday luck spilling over the rim in the form of a rad concert at Ignition Garage that was loud enough for us to enjoy from the patio at The Brew. For free.

After all that, we hit up Kroger for tampons and Sensodyne toothpaste, because thirty-eight.

I won't say that I feel older, and I won't pretend to feel or be The Best I've Ever Been.

What I will say is, I'm learning every day. I'm circling in on what I need, the things that are most life-giving. I'm trying my best to walk in truth, to remain teachable, to hold opportunities for humility like gifts in my arms.

I'm less apologetic for the things I'm not.
I'm less prideful about the things I am.

I'm less inclined to project someone else's expectations onto myself.
I'm more inclined to give grace (even to me, on a good day.)

I believe long walks at comfortable speeds keep a world of late-night salsa-eating in check.
I believe another chapter is usually more valuable than a sparkling sink basin.

I look forward to spending the year with my fine, new mate.
This is 38.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Adoption Through the Eyes of Adoptive Dads - Part II

"As we walked up to the car in Haiti their little arms were stretched out the window yelling Poppa Betsy! Poppa Betsy! They jumped in my arms when we opened the door. At that very moment any doubt or fear was completely removed in my heart and mind and they were my children. Call it what you want but I believe that God has a plan in all our lives and he can and will work out all the concerns." - Heath
We're continuing our conversation with adoptive Dads.
(To catch up on Part I, click here.)


Caleb F: Emma (passed away at birth), Liam (11 - bio), Aidan (9 - bio), Lucy Kate (1 - domestic adoption)  

Barry: JK (16 - bio), RK (13 - bio), KK (3 - adopted from foster care)

Shawn: Brennan (15 - bio), Aidan (14 - bio), Evan (12 - bio), Chasity (12 - adopted domestically at age 7) 

Heath: Videline 12 (adopted from Haiti at 8), Barbara 11 (adopted from Haiti at 7), Daphka 10 (came from Haiti as a medical needs child at 5, adopted at 9), Drake 2 (born in Haiti and in their care at 2 days old, adopted at 18 months)

Cory: Calvin (9 - adopted from South Korea at 5 months), Ruby (7 - adopted domestically at birth), Silas (5 - adopted from South Korea at 18 months), Robert ("adopted" at 18)

Barrett: Howie (9 - adopted from Ethiopia), Lena (3 - adopted from Ethiopia), Marion (11 months, bio)

Caleb B: Brody (6 - bio), Foster (4 - bio), Story (2 - bio), Baby A (11 months, open domestic adoption - not quite finalized)
A lot of women share that their husbands struggle to believe they could love a child who isn’t biologically theirs. Do you have anything to add to this?
"No as soon as KK came into our home she had me." - Barry
"I actually had concerns with my biological children that I would love them the way that I should…And that sense of belonging was not changed in the least if the child was the result of conception or adoption. Lucy Kate was mine the instant the nurse placed her in my arms." - Caleb F
"For me, it is not an issue of loving, I believe love is a choice, but rather an issue of history and shared experience." - Shawn
"I would admit that this is something that I thought about when we decided to adopt the first time…from the moment I met them they were ours in my heart." - Heath
"We adopted Lena when she was 7 months old, and I actually attached more quickly to her than our biological child.  I was so much more involved, and experienced the 'she needs me' feelings that a biological mother experiences. I was feeding her all the time, waking up at night with her as often as my wife, and that experience caused a strong and quick bond.  With our biological daughter, I was less involved so the attachment was a bit slower.  I heard Pastor Tim Keller once remark that as you serve people, you love them…With that said, my experience was the same – my love for my children was more determined by how active I was in serving and caring for them than whether they were biological or adopted." - Barrett
“… once that baby or child is in your family, for me, there was no struggle whatsoever. Once we heard about our son, before we had even seen him, we already loved him like our own. - Caleb B

For those of you who have both biological and adopted kids, how is parenting your adopted child/children different?
"I have four kids, one is adopted but I forget which one." - Caleb B
"What I have been careful of is thinking through how could my adoptive daughters’ first part of life without parents affected their development.  Laying on a crib for 7 months and feeding yourself as soon as you could hold a bottle is a world away from a baby with two parents holding them and fawning over them every day.  I enjoyed working hard at this thought process, wanting to protect my daughters from any lack of my knowledge in adoptive parenting, as well as wanting to work to heal any past wounds." - Barrett
"One thing that we purposely did differently was to spend a significant amount of bonding with her when she was newly born. A lot of time was spent just holding her and loving on her." - Caleb F
"Just as each of our boys are different and need to be parented differently, so it was with Chasity.  Due to neglect, Chasity’s developmental age was far less than her physical age.  Though she was the same age as our youngest, her developmental age was dissimilar." - Shawn
"I have to treat KK differently not because she is adopted but because of her personality." - Barry

What aspects of adoption were you most unprepared for?

"The difficulty of a foreign adoption and the process. The difficulty of overcoming all the hurt and fear instilled in our children prior to coming to us, and gaining that love and trust, which I believe is a lifetime mission, not something that happens on a very short term. Things have and do get progressively better but the scars and damage physiologically are there and always will be. As a parent to children that have dealt with things in their life beyond their control it is our life mission to hold them up and help them overcome." - Heath
"I was most unprepared for the anger our youngest son felt toward us after we brought him home and how long it would take to built trust." - Cory
"Initially, I wasn't prepared or educated on open adoption. We were blessed to have learned so much through our case worker, friends who have adopted, and our agency that really educated us on open adoption before moving forward with our own adoption. In the two years that passed before we brought our son home, we really felt we learned so much and that the Lord prepared our hearts for openness in adoption." - Caleb B
"I think I was unprepared for the way that other people reacted to our decision to adopt. Some people thought that we were crazy, and way too many others called us “saints”. For us it was just a way to add to our family." - Caleb F
"I was not prepared for my eldest daughter immediately taking far more strongly to my wife than myself in the beginning." - Barrett
"I was unprepared for the transition that our bio-kids had to go through…By year #4 the boys had come around to the idea and began treating her like a sister, as best as they knew how." - Shawn
"The question the judged asked me at the hearing: Mr. K what do you think about this little girl? Wow I started to get teary eyed up and said she is my little girl." - Barry

What aspects of adoption surprised you most?

"I was arrogant in my thinking of adopting.  I believed that bringing a little person into our house, giving structure and love would show immediate progress and improvement of thinking, character and personality.  I was severely incorrect!  The surprise was for me." - Shawn
"The cost is surprising. The barriers to entry in the form of paperwork, costs, scheduling, etc. can be daunting." - Caleb F
"The hurt, fear, and difficulty trusting these children have at such a young age." - Heath
"You read about ways that adopted children deal with their adoptions and try to prepare yourself the best you can.  But there is so much more to their emotions than what you can comprehend before you experience it. The only way to prepare for it is to go through it." - Cory
"I was also surprised how adoption deepened my faith in God and added a perspective that was lacking prior to adoption. Adoptive parents have a unique advantage in understanding what it means to be adopted into the family of God." - Cory 
"I think what's surprising to me most about adoption is outsider's point of view on it. Their reaction to us wanting to add to our family through adoption, even though we could have biological children, was often times surprising to me." - Caleb B
"How ferociously I do love all three of my girls." - Barrett
What has adoption taught you/how have you grown as a human or as a Dad?

"That love is a supernatural gift.  People fall in and out of love all the time, but I don’t think that emotional interpretation of love was the original design.  I’ve learned about love being an action word… “laying down our lives…”, an emotion preceded by a commitment." - Barrett 
"Wow, I have never had to deal with a strong willed, full speed little girl. Learning how to deal with her as made me grow more and look for different ways to handle situations." - Barry
"I think one thing that this has taught me is how infinite love is. When we chose to adopt we already had two children that I loved fiercely. The first time I held Lucy Kate I felt the same way. My love for the boys did not diminish because of this new child; it grew one more multiple of infinity." - Caleb F
"I've grown as a Dad because I've had to make room for biological dads and foster dads in the lives of my kids. I've learned to embrace the other dad's who have made it possible for me to have my children even though I will never meet them. My love can't be threatened by my kid's love for their dad's they will never meet, nor does it diminish my love in their eyes." - Cory 
"The love I feel for my children isn't because they came from my wife and I. It's a choice to love them, just like I choose to love our adopted son. Our son's adoption has taught me more about love; Christ's love, and the love I have for my family, and others." - Caleb B
"It is a choice by those who adopt to love unconditionally and firmly, guide with wisdom and grace and parent as if they are their own flesh." - Shawn
"Adoption has taught me that this life is not about ME. There is so much more in this life that is much more important than self and our cushy lives." - Heath
 I want to thank all these awesome dads for sharing their hearts with us. I know each of their answers was meant for someone specific and it's an honor that they allowed me to share their stories.