Thursday, December 24, 2009

Festive Firsts

This season is full of festive firsts at our house! December 13 is always a big day for us since it's 12 days before Christmas, and the day we have always decorated our house, including getting our tree and putting up lights. This has been our special family tradition since Michael moved over here from Scotland 13 years ago, a few weeks before we got married. This year the day was even more special though because we included a trip to see Santa at a local general store. This was a different experience from the mall Santa in that it was much more relaxed and simple. We also took our own pictures, as opposed to paying lots of money for them to do it, which was important to me. Charlie was fairly neutral about the whole thing, not overly thrilled and not overwhelmed either.

As for me though, I was giddy just like a little girl. I can hardly believe this is all really happening! When I sat him down on Santa's lap for the first time...a little thrill went through me at the realization that this is our son. I used to dream about becoming a mom, and part of my vision was always the excitement and joy I would feel surrounding the holidays. All I can really say is that reality has been even better than my dreams. Sure it's different because there are obligations and finances with which I am concerned now that were never a part of what I imagined, but the magic is still here and it is very real. I know Charlie is too young to really get it this year, but he is still full of wonder at all the new experiences he's having. I love being the person who is providing those for him...I love being Mommy, soaking up the joy of my son's first Christmas!

Here we are, less than 24 hours away from the first Christmas morning when I will wake up, and for the first time in my life, be immersed in the experiences of the season through the wonderment of another person. Christmas has always been about sharing and family, but this year it's completely different for me to be "Mommy," in addition to wife, daughter, sister, and aunt.

I honestly can't wait...

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Hippie No More

The moment of 12:47 p.m. EST was quite momentous for my dear hubby today...I chopped off all his hair! Until a little over half an hour ago, the man hadn't had a haircut in 20 years. He used to joke around with our nephew every time we saw him about how his hair was older than Nick.

's about changing and today marked a big one for Michael. He always said that when we had a child he was going to get his hair cut to mark the momentous life-change of becoming a daddy. He picked today for the big event, as a way to commemorate the winter solstice, "for Charlie."

I'm still pretty shocked, and I think he is too, that hair has been with us through thick and thin! The length of the braid I cut off is 21!

Since I'm a far cry from a cosmetologist, our next item on today's agenda is to go to a salon where they can beautify my initial efforts.

And at the end of the day, our baby boy still knows Daddy, how divine!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

{a little} Conflicted About Chirstmas

With my entirely too busy semester finally winding down, Christmas is barreling straight towards us - I know it will be here in the blink of an eye. I've been feeling a little conflicted with what to say here on my blog regarding the topic of Christmas this year. Back then I wasn't even really talking about how sad I felt, but last Christmas was hard for me. I was reaching an all-time low, and was feeling more down than I could even admit. I can vividly remember holding my then tiny newborn niece during our family's Christmas celebration, and not being able to contain my tears, though I vehemently tried. Some tears of joy at her beautiful existence, certainly...but also deeply rooted tears of sorrow and anguish at what I didn't yet have at this time last year. I can remember that well-concealed pain, and it was intense.

Flash forward to now, and I'm less than three weeks shy of the best Christmas of my entire life! I am finally at that place where I will begin to be able to relive the magic of the holidays through the eyes of our son. At long last, we have the hoped for, dreamed of, and so very much loved answer to my (and so many of your) prayers.
Thankful, grateful, overjoyed, thrilled - none of those can even come close to what I really feel.
Hallelujah! I want to shout my joy from the mountaintops, I wan to dance and laugh. I want to sing.

But then I remember, and I stop in my tracks. I know some of you who read this are still where I was at this time last year. I know that pain with which so many of you are still struggling every single day, and I cry again. I know the impending holidays carve out the anguish and make your sadness that much more intense, that much more painful. I know like only someone who has been there can know.

And I struggle with how to articulate this. How - or even whether to tell you that I do remember. How to say to you (without saying any of the countless unhelpful things people say) that I haven't forgotten. That I know how it feels to be waiting, longing, hoping, praying, and hurting through yet another Christmas.

Then, I see the amazing reminder of our son when he smiles at me, and that John Mayer song, "Say" flashes into my mind. I realize that I do need to say what I need to say...that I need to rejoice and be happy as I enjoy the countless gifts I have been given this year, I realize that I can really only be where I am, as much as it pains me to realize and remember where some of you still are.

I've been sitting here for several minutes, staring at the screen. I've been trying to figure out how to end this post. I guess what I want all of you to know is that your pain and sorrow is not lost on me. Even when I (inevitably) get carried away with the joy this Christmas brings for my family, the sadness it brings for some of you is still tucked away in the back of my mind. Blogging, and this community of shared experiences is a gift for which I will always be incredibly thankful. The connections here are not something I will ever be able to fully understand, but I do know they are to be treasured.

So here's to you, blogland...and to all you've done and continue to do in my life. For the enrichment you've brought to my mind, my heart, and my spirit. May those of you who are rejoicing alongside me create memories this year that will last your entire life long...and may those of you who are still struggling know that you are not alone. May you be able to stand a little stronger against the storm with the knowledge that your sadness is not forgotten.

Saying what I need to say,

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Every so often....

...people come along in our lives with whom we have an unexpected and immediate connection. Surprisingly, I've learned that this can even happen in blogland where the connections are virtual but still so real. Kel is one such person for me. Ever since she and I found one another's blogs, we have been connected, inexplicably, in this way.

After a long wait, peppered with some pretty intense disappointments, Kel and Jer met their baby boy, J.C. today! This is one of those matches that makes me cry tears of joy, and makes me remember what this is all about. This little family is gorgeous in every way, and they deserve every ounce of happiness that comes their way!

When you have a chance, stop by Kel's Blog and congratulate her on the best blogosphere news I've heard in a while!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Raisinig Small Souls

I found a really cool parenting advice web site that I thought some of you might enjoy. Check out Raising Small Souls. Be sure to watch the video previews when you have a chance, they are worth the time!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sneaky Seventh Month

With so much going on around here lately, Charlie's seventh month sneaked right up on us!

Our boy is becoming quite a little communicator lately. He's definitely beginning to piece a few things together. He's clearly saying "Hi" when he sees us or other people he knows, and he also says "Da Da," although that one's not always in context. I can also tell he's working really hard to find the word for doggy, and to articulate both of their names. He stares at them intently a lot right now. I'm still waiting for the ubiquitous attempt at "Mama," but still nothing on that front. He also gets really mad now when he wants something he can't have. I wouldn't exactly say he's throwing temper tantrums, but he's not far off. We're going to have lots of fun as this little man becomes more and more autonomous. :)

We still have no teeth, which really surprises me. I've pretty much given up on saying he's teething because clearly I have no clue when those little buggers are going to make an appearance! The world of homemade baby food continues to be lots of fun for me. He likes almost everything we've tried so far, with the exception of green beans. I'm still offering him those off and on in hopes that he will acquire the taste, but we'll see. We tried turkey on Saturday, during my family's big Thanksgiving dinner.

He was pretty unsure about that, but the texture was pretty gritty so I don't blame him. I think next time we try turkey I'll mix it with something that has a better texture and see if that helps.

Our baby boy has quite a charming little personality emerging, which has been a lot of fun to watch. Every so often something will strike his funny bone and he will laugh so hard he almost sounds like he's crying. Last week it was my mom spinning the sun catcher on our deck for him, and the other day it was me pointing to the little red bird on his wall mural and saying, "Bird." I have no idea why those things were so funny, but I still delighted in hearing his laughter.

He's completely in love with bath time right now too, which is making me wish I gave him baths a little more often. I don't want to unnecessarily dry out his skin, but I do so love to see him splash and squeal the way he does. His daddy bought him a rubber duck that has a flashing light sequence and he loves that thing! He lunges for it in the bath without a care in the world.

The past month has been great, and extremely momentous! I'm very much looking forward to our first Christmas with this little man, and all the other great things his seventh month will bring!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day I'll Never Forget

Kisses for Charlie!

Our first official day as a family was everything I had imagined it would be and then some. Even though our precious boy has been every bit our son in our minds and our hearts since we first laid eyes on him this spring, it feels good to know he is officially ours in the eyes of the legal system now too. Our day in court yesterday was amazing!

We were lucky to be able to finalize Charlie's adoption on National Adoption Day, which meant we were part of the celebration the court house held in honor of the 14 adoptions that took place in our county yesterday. There were balloons, refreshments, adoption-related information and keepsakes, guest speakers, and news media there to commemorate the occasion. We were interviewed by the reporter who was there, and he took several photos of the three of us together. I wonder if we'll be in the paper? They had four court rooms open, and we were among the first group of families to be called.

We were also fortunate because the judge who presided over our case is also the adoptive mommy of a five-year-old African-American boy. She showed us pictures of her son, and she even asked me if I'd like to get our boys together sometime, which of course I would! During the hearing, she had some insightful and poignant things to say about both the rewards, and the hardships of adoptive parenting, and particularly about what it's like to be a transracial family in today's world. Listening to her, both during the hearing and afterwords, I felt wholly understood and celebrated. I feel excited about the prospect of getting to know her better, and having our sons meet one another.

Our hearing was extremely touching, and emotionally overwhelming. Listening to our case worker talk about our story, and how we waited such a long time for "the right baby" was quite a moment. When she said she would like to recommend us for permanent placement and care of Charlie she said, "They clearly love him to death!" The judge had also read through our entire (40+ page) home study, and she remembered several things that she mentioned during the hearing, including our love story, and our two dogs, which made everyone chuckle.

here we are, taking our solemn vow to accept both the blessing, as well as the burden of parenting.

finally, our long-awaited moment with the judge!

here we are with my mom and dad, Charlie's Ema and Epa...they look so proud!

Once we were done with the legal aspects of our day, we had family and friends back to our house for fun, games, and food! Here's our precious boy, enjoying the homemade letter C ginger bread cookie his daddy made for him.

Seriously...he is too cute for words!

We really had a fantastic day! All day long I felt really special, and really celebrated. We played games, chatted, and everyone seemed to have a genuinely good time. So many people stopped by, it was amazing. At one point there were four little ones under the age of four in our tiny little living room. It was so nice to know that our son was amongst the group of babies. I felt so proud as I watched them play...their laughter was music to my ears! Towards the end of the evening, we commemorated our first-ever Gotcha Day by taking a mold of baby boy's hand and foot.

Once they dry completely, we'll display them in a frame, along with a photo from today, and the signatures of all the guests who stopped by. I'm so happy to have this keepsake, as well as so many great memories from our special family day with our son. It's challenging to get my words to do justice to the overflowing joy, love, and pride I felt yesterday, and still feel today when I think about our beautiful family. We are truly blessed beyond measure, and I am left with an overwhelming feeling of happiness and gratitude when I think about our story and how far we've come in {really} such a short time!

I'd do it all again in an instant!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Two Days to Go

Charlie's adoption day is coming up on Tuesday! We have been shopping, cleaning and cooking like crazy today! The court house is having an "adoption appreciation" celebration on Tuesday to go along with all the adoptions that will be finalized in our county that day. Press will be there, and it will be a big shindig. I am jittery, but in a good way.

Honestly I can't believe we are here already! I can't believe we've come from where we were this time last year to where we are's amazing! Every day I seem to fall more and more in love with our son. I keep thinking that at some point my love for him will reach capacity, but maybe it just keeps on growing, who knows?

There has been a lot of negativity going around here lately, and to be honest it's been getting me down (see previous post.) But there has also been some good news over which I've been doing a little happy dance! :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Whole Privacy Thing...

Recently a lot of the bloggers on my blogroll have decided to go private. While I completely understand and respect that decision, it is kind of leaving me with an unsettled feeling.

I don't really feel the urge to go private, don't really want to go private, but maybe I should want to? Maybe I'm weird because I don't really hold back much? The pictures are probably the only thing I really worry about. Mostly since that ridiculous news story a while back about the picture that was stolen from a family blog...

But - especially now that we have Charlie, the whole point of this blog is for me to share. Share our experiences, share our lives, and share the joy we have in our son. I feel like going private would somehow change blogging for me in a bad way.

Then there is the anti-adoption hate garbage that's been happening around here lately. Honestly, this just makes me sick! I do not, and will never understand how there are people out there who feel vindicated by attacking others. Especially others like some of you. Sweet and caring people who are trying to do their best given the circumstances they face. I just don't get it, and this whole thing makes me really, really mad. I want to fight back, but instead I am watching as one by one, many of my favorite blogs are forced to go underground. It's ridiculous, and I wish they--those anonymous idiots--didn't have that much power over us.

Whatever. It is what it is. I can completely understand why those of you who are now private have done what you've done. You have made me think about it myself, and to be honest...I'm still thinking on this one. I guess the bottom line is that I just wish I...we...could feel safe. Safe to be ourselves and share our experiences without all the worry and fear.

Monday, November 9, 2009


This morning we were all in the bathroom getting ready for the day. Little Charlie was sitting on the floor. The following is the beautiful conversation we had that made me remember how awed I am by the blessing of our son:

Me: While looking at the November, 2007 copy of "Adoption Today" sitting on the counter. "Oh cool, this talks about November being Adoption Awareness Month, and it's November now.

Michael: "Wow, that was a long time ago."

Me: "Yep, that's when we started our adoption process, the spring of 2007. So it took us almost exactly two years to go from paperwork to person."

Michael: "Yep, but I'm glad it took as long as it did, because if we had been quicker, we wouldn't have Charlie."

Charlie: Looks up at us with a delightful grin as we both gaze at him in wonder.

Me: "Yep, I'm even thankful for all the other stuff too, the infertility. Because if we had been able to conceive biologically, we also wouldn't have Charlie. I can't even imagine that."

Neither of us can even begin to fathom any baby other than Charlie at the center of our lives. He is so completely our baby that thinking of any baby other than him just seems all wrong. To consider how different our paths could have been, and to even think about our lives not having been touched by Charlie's...I honestly can't even go there. What a blessing and true miracle this little boy is for us!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Or maybe this post should be titled "Absence of Anonymity." Of course I knew, when we welcomed Charlie into our lives, that from that point forward we would be a family who doesn't look like all the others, and who consequently gets noticed more in public. I knew it intellectually, but not realistically if that makes any sense.

The other night we were at dinner, and as we were leaving the restaurant, a woman held the door for us. When I told her thank you she said,

"Oh you're welcome. I've seen you guys around. Yeah, I think over at that other place as she pointed to another diner across the parking lot. The baby's getting big."

I made some common response about how fast they grow, but as I did so, I was actually thinking that it is really strange to be known by people who I had never even noticed before. And I think I'm generally fairly observant when we're out and about.

Then not too long ago, we had a woman at the store tell us she remembered us, and that it didn't look like the baby had grown at all since the last time she saw us. Now call me crazy, but even if that thought crossed my mind, I would never speak it out loud to a baby's mother! Not that I care, because my main thought after this comment was that she must be clueless to not have noticed how big Charlie had gotten...but whatever.

Another instance happened at Applebees when a waitress I could have sworn we've never seen before said she remembered us from the last time we were there. I realize this post makes it sound as though we go out to eat every night, but actually these encounters are generally months apart. Apparently we make a lasting impression on people no matter where we go, which I guess can be both good and bad.

Being known in the places we frequent is interesting. To be honest, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this new aspect of our lives. Right now I'm not bothered by it as much as I think I will be when I have to try to find a way to explain to little Charlie why people notice us the way they do. It's not as though this is a small town. We live in a good size community where it's generally pretty easy to remain unknown if that's your desire.

After we left the other night, I jokingly said to Michael, "Now what are we going to do when our son's all grown up and is no longer around all the time to make us famous?" I'll be honest in saying there is a part of me that enjoys the attention of being noticed. Primarily because I'm so very proud of our family, and I love to talk about adoption any time I have a chance...but also because there is something nice about not being just another face amongst a sea of faces.

I know this post is slightly jumbled, and not entirely making sense, but these experiences have been happening more and more often. I want to capture all the nuances of my feelings before too much time goes by...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Baby's First Halloween

Halloween has been one of my favorite parts of the holiday/fall season for a long time, but this year was even better with the little one here for the festivities. We went the inexpensive homemade route for his costume, what do you think:

Can you guess what he's dressed up as?




Give up yet?

It's called, "Daddy Dressed Me!"

Well we thought it was funny! As it turned out, Charlie only made it to about three houses before he fell fast asleep on Daddy's shoulder.

That's just as well since we certainly didn't need the extra candy sitting around the house! All in all, the boy's first Halloween was lots of fun. We had my parents, as well as my younger sister and her husband over for chili while we passed out candy to the smattering of neighborhood kids who came down our street. The night was low key, but enjoyable. Hope all of you had a Happy Halloween too!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Inches...

My 17-year-old nephew was in a car accident this morning, and the paramedics told him that if he had been two inches taller, he probably wouldn't have survived. He crashed into a semi-truck and the entire roof caved. Apparently he hit the central wheel base of the truck, and if the impact would have been to the right or left even slightly, the top of the car would have been completely cut off. I saw the pictures of the car and it made me feel sick. Apparently the driver of the truck didn't even approach Nick's car because he assumed the worst. Over the years my nephew has struggled with being the kid who's shorter than all his peers. All I can say is that I am thankful beyond words for the two inches that have turned out to be vital to Nick's life.

He is okay. Bruised, scraped, and scared...but thankfully okay. After seeing those photos, I'm honestly not sure how he walked away from a crash like that with only a band-aid and a headache. I know that if I would have seen something like this on the road, I would have assumed the driver of the car probably hadn't survived. I could cry. Thankful does not even come close to my thoughts tonight. Thoughts of how much worse this day could have been send shudders down my spine.

They took him to the hospital, and have done every kind of scan you can imagine to make sure there are no internal injuries. My family is in the process of piling in the car and driving down to Indiana to visit. It's probably not essential that we go there, but we all just want to give Nick a hug and tell him we love him. I am feeling pretty shaken right now, and still pretty upset, but also tremendously thankful that he wasn't seriously hurt.

This was written earlier today. We are back home in MI now, and all seems to be as well as could be expected with Nick. Tonight I am really wishing that he wasn't quite so far away, but it is what it is. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Half a Year Ago...

Half a year. When you say it like that, the time seems so much longer, and so much more momentous, which is exactly how it feels to me. I honestly cannot believe Charlie is six months old today. He is the greatest blessing I could ever have asked for, and I am awed by his existence. Six months ago today, our lives were on the cusp of great change, though we didn't know it at the time. On that fateful late April day, a tiny star was born. I am immensely grateful for the life of our son, and for the tremendous sacrifices made by his first mother so that he could be.

My sincere thanks go to Tracey for the adorable sweater Charlie is wearing here!

Charlie is an amazing little boy. He delights me every single day with his sweet personality, and with all the new things he learns. He is joyful, and his happiness is catching. He has recently started babbling in his sleep, and even laughing sometimes too. It is the most darling thing I've ever seen or heard. When I look at him, it is crystal clear to me: we needed this little boy! People tell us all the time that he's so lucky to have us, but I know we're the ones who are lucky! There is nothing sweeter to me than when I look into his soulful, brown eyes and see so much love reflected there. The way he watches me, and the way he smiles when we find each other, it is purely golden. Though I feel buoyed by his love for me, his need of me, I also feel that I'm not worthy of such adoration from this little person. I guess all mothers feel that to an extent?

There are a lot of changes forthcoming with the physical age of six months. He gets new pacifier nipples, new bottle nipples, and he can begin eating a much greater variety of solid foods now, all of which is very exciting.

I spent a good portion of this past weekend making baby food for him, and I had so much fun! I made butternut squash, carrots, green beans, and apples, which I hope he will like. I'm excited for this new phase of babyhood and all the new experiences!

He started with green beans today... far he's not too thrilled about them!

I'm not sure why exactly, but I've gotten a lot of satisfaction out of making Charlie's food. I think it must be similar (though very different, of course!) to that feeling a mother gets when she's breast feeding her baby. The knowledge that I'm giving my baby the best there is, and saving money at the same time is empowering!

In other developments, Charlie has recently become very good with his hands, which is pretty amazing to watch. He grabs at almost everything he sees now (including our glasses at the dinner table, and the glasses off my face!) and he will practice moving objects from one hand to the other. I love watching him do this over and over as he experiments with different items.

Today we went out in the back yard and played in the leaves. Of course, he kept wanting to put the them in his mouth, but he quickly figured out they're not the best tasting things in the world.

I guess Mommy knows a thing or two when she says the leaves taste yucky!

He's also sitting up on his own now, though he will still topple occasionally if he's not 100 % balanced. We are still waiting on the teeth, but I keep thinking they will make a grand entrance any day now! He seems to really enjoy touching things. Often when I'm holding him he will rub my face with his hands, and grab my mouth while I'm talking. It is both funny and sweet when he does this.

He won't go to the doctor until next week, but he currently weighs almost exactly 16 pounds, and I would guess he's about 26 inches long. He's loving bath time these days, which I think is due at least in part to the fact that he can sit up in his tub now. His nails certainly do grow quickly though! Do any of the rest of you have trouble keeping up with your little one's nails? This is something that's been a lot harder for me than I ever expected. I have to cut them almost every three or four days, and with all the face touching and grabbing lately it's problematic if I forget.

Though they have been a complete whirlwind, these past six months have been some of the best of my entire life. I mentioned in this post that I had a good feeling about my 33rd year, and it turns out my predictions were correct, our baby was already on the way a few days after I wrote that post. My truest self is the part of me that is "mother." I am loving being able to finally walk in those shoes. I am so glad, and so relieved that I no longer have to daydream about being a mother, and that I can now finally get down to the business of being one!

I hope and pray that those of you who are still waiting have your heart's desire fulfilled soon too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Boy + One Box = A Blast!

It really is the little things in life that matter, which I was reminded of tonight after school. When I got home, there was an unexpected package waiting. The surprise turned out to be an adorable pair of overalls for Charlie, from his Auntie Nani. After all the years of loving on, and (I admit) spoiling my nephew and nieces, it is so sweet to realize that I have a little boy who other people now want to spoil! Anyway, though I am so thankful, that's not really what this post is about.

It's more about the fact that I am so in love with the way Charlie is overjoyed by even the simplest things in life. This is what I absolutely love about babies, they are the only humans I know who are literally thrilled by simplicities such as cardboard boxes. Pure joy!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tasty Toes!

There is something so very special about the baby stage Charlie is in right now. To say that this is the golden age of babyhood is a grand understatement. I am enjoying him so very much these days! I love that Charlie has found his toes, and...while I obviously want our son to grow...there is some part of me that wishes this delicious baby could stay around forever!