Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finding Our Balance

Being thrust into a situation with no established social rules makes me feel as though I walk teeteringly along a narrow balance beam and only time and practice will make me feel more comfortable walking forward into this unusual relationship called open adoption.

Today we had our first visit with Baby Bear's birth mom (Miss A) since placement. We met at a neutral location for about an hour. I was actually kind of nervous because we had to drive two hours to get there and I didn't know how all the kids would do and if the baby would be fussy. Also there was a last-minute change in plans (we were supposed to meet tomorrow) and I was worried that things would be weird.

When we got there, Miss A and her dad were there waiting (we were late, no surprise) and there were smiles all around. I got the baby out of his car seat and handed him right over, just like to aunties and all the people at church who want a turn. She commented on how he'd grown and how his color is darkening. He woke up and was hungry so I made a bottle and handed it to her. Our older kids played there on the playland and we had a really nice chat. Miss A told us how she is working on getting her GED (yay!) and about the new puppy she got. Her Dad has begun a blog to keep their extended family informed on Baby Bear and other happenings. We all enjoyed Baby Bear's cute expressions and commented on how strong he is and how beautiful.

Near the end of the visit Baby Bear had a full diaper and Hubby took him to freshen him, so Miss A and her Dad left so she would not have to say goodbye to him and cry in front of us (her choice). Overall the whole visit seemed really positive and friendly. I loved it. She was totally respectful of us and we also were of her.

We came directly back home to give Little Mister his nap. I was so worried about the long drive but the kids did super. Miss A gave Baby Bear the Halloween costume she'd bought for him and a Pooh bear.

I know she misses him a lot and I grieve for her but she has said several times she feels like she has done the right thing. While I am sure we'll have our hiccups in establishing this unusual relationship, I think so far it is working out really well and I am so glad our baby will have even more people who love him from her family and that he'll know that Miss A loves him a lot. That means so much to me. It was also cool to ask her stuff like whether she sneezes five times or whether she can raise one eyebrow. I like being able to email her and send her pictures because she has said she really appreciates it.

During the conversation we both agreed this was an odd relationship to build; something that looks like family, yet not. We are joined by mutual love for a very special baby. After today, as I look into the foggy future I see a friendship built on respect, which ultimately makes it very comfortable indeed.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Something to Do

As the cold weather closes in around us, we begin hunting for creative things to get us out of the house but still keep our two cold-blooded family members toasty and snug. While we do a few outdoor activities, Hubby and Curly get miserable in short order if they get chilled, so we generally look for indoor recreation.

It seems that the kids, who have a never-ending supply of energy, can also use more exercise than we're getting so the other night we took our family out to the community recreation center.

While it is free for use, it's often full of college-aged guys playing basketball, something that never fails to stress me out due to the memories of getting hit in the face unexpectedly with flying basketballs numerous times as a kid. Still, we managed to spend an hour there playing ball with the kids before it was bedtime and we headed home.

While Hubby and the kids chased balls, I sat guarding Baby Bear in his bucket seat and played with a new camera, one that I was trying out. The DSLR was a lot of fun, but a couple of features I really disliked meant that it's going to be returned and I'll look for a different model. Still, it was fun for the evening, playing with the zoom lens, taking shots of my family as they ran and played.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Field Trip in the Rain

Last week a few other homeschool moms and I took our kids to an arboretum located on the university campus, right here in town. This forest/park features labeled trees from several continents, along with ponds and sundry small wildlife.

One of the other moms organized a tree-treasure hunt, complete with teams and prizes. The only trouble was that rain poured onto us and our paper until it was too soggy to write the answers!

Curly, old enough to join a team and look for trees, listened intently to the first two minutes of instruction. Then she got distracted and wandered off.

Little Mister spent his time whining about the rain and wanting to be carried. He didn't have any idea what was going on educationally, although halfway through the game he discovered that finding the signs next to the trees and pointing out letters on them brought praise from the adults. He eagerly ran through the wet grass, giggling as he found another sign.

Curly and her friend discovered that the neighboring wheat field still had stalks of wheat around the edges; instead of looking for trees, the girls began busily gleaning wheat for "survival rations" as if the weather was somehow going to prevent us eating for the next few days.

Our poor seven-year-old team leader, left on his own, abandoned by the girls and by Mister who was whining again, valiantly looked for trees on his own. He did so well we tied the other team with the number of correct answers. I hoped the kid got an extra prize for his effort.

There were trees shaped like gumdrops.

We found pines from North America, Mountain Ash from Europe, Maples from Asia and even a whole family of Mallard ducks.

With good raincoats everyone got only moderately damp, even the babies. I think overall we all had a good time in spite of the bad weather. I appreciated the group of moms and kids who were willing to turn out even though conditions weren't perfect. And though we may not have learned a whole lot about trees, we did learn about teamwork and doing your best even if it's raining.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Positively Medieval

This year GG, one of the grandmas, decided to give the kids their birthday and Christmas presents all combined into one big gift. I love it when they do that because it means rather than lots of small gifts we can get one giant cool toy or set. This time it was a Playmobil castle set and a dragon.

Hubby, of course, taught the kids right away the proper method for a dragon to attack a castle. They outfitted all the knights and began to mount a good defense. Since the castle came equipped with a catapult and big rocks, attack and defense became heated with rocks flying across the living room.

A breakaway wall created a hole in the castle when attacked, much to Little Mister's dismay. He decided the castle was broken and wailed and whined at us until we fixed it by reattaching the broken wall.

A favorite feature of the set was the red treasure chest, full of crowns and necklaces and gold cups. The lid even had a latch to keep it closed and it resided in state in the tower of the castle.

I have a feeling this toy is going to get a LOT of use over the next few years, as long as I can keep the tiny pieces out of reach of the baby once he starts crawling and eating such things. Maybe we'll set up a special place to play with the castle where it's out of his reach.

Kitten Problem

We have a problem. These have taken up residency in our garage, eating out of our compost bin and in general being a nuisance. They are wilder than coons, impossible to catch and when we stopped putting cat food outside, they rush the house door trying to get to the food. When I called the Humane Society I was told they don't take ferile cats and the police department only deals with dogs.

So it is up to us and possibly our next-door neighbors to borrow some live traps and figure out where to re-home these frustratingly unwanted creatures.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Birthday Party!

Saturday we drove down to L-town to my parents' house for the annual fall family birthday celebration. Mister and Hubby had birthdays last week, while Curly has one in two weeks, so we do the family get-together all at once with one big, happy Christmas-like bash.

My grandpa, who turns 89 this fall, and his brother came to enjoy the great-grandkids. They were enchanted with the new baby, although Grandpa had a little trouble getting the name since he can no longer hear much.

Delighted to celebrate her birthday two weeks early, Curly Miss chattered our ears off, as usual. Obviously she is not chattering in this photo, I just included it because it was too sweet to resist!

Baby Bear stayed awake most of the party, looking at everything. So of course everyone thought he was the cutest thing, which he is!

The older two kept themselves busy waiting for my aunt and uncle to arrive by chasing one another around the house, wrestling and jumping on my mom's couch. It does my mother-heart good to know I am raising such quiet, well-behaved children.

Hubby gets an ice-cream cake every year from my mom. He says it's one of his favorite parts of having a birthday as an adult!

Finally, someone else took the camera so I got to be in a picture! Unusual occurrence.

Hubby received a video game and gave me a really cheesy pose for the camera. Taking excellent, sophisticated portraits in this family is a snap.

Curly was thrilled to receive a craft project to paint in one of our future homeschool craft sessions that Hubby will probably oversee while I go hide from the mess.

Little Mister opened a box of M&M's and was set for the rest of the afternoon.

His favorite gift was a train with the alphabet on it. He'd seen one at the mall and was begging to get it for his birthday for weeks.

After the chaos died down, I put Mister down for his nap and Curly watched a movie. As the house got quieter, I took my sleep-deprived self downstairs for a nap too, but unfortunately I had consumed too much coffee earlier in the day and I couldn't get to sleep. Ah, well, so it goes.

A fun, crazy, family-filled day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Family Portrait, Finally

It's been a full year since I have taken a picture with all of us in it at the same time. My sister obligingly took this today at my parents' house where we were celebrating Mister and Hubby's birthdays. Now I am kind of glad I didn't get one earlier since we can have it with Baby Bear in it now. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Special Book

cover of baby book

Although I am not a scrapbooker, I do manage to print enough "real" photographs to put in a baby book for my kids. Growing up, I remember the fun of looking through my own baby book, seeing the soft little tuft of hair from my first hair cut and the dates of my first steps. Reading the little pink book always made me feel so loved as a child.

Page that says waiting

In preparing to bring Baby Bear home, I discovered that traditional baby books such as I had used with my other two kids were not set up for adoptive Mommies AT ALL. Pages such as hospital photos and bracelets, whose nose the baby inherited and pregnancy belly shots were not going to work.

page with picture of two women that says people who helped us find you

Still, imagining my adopted child growing up in our family where each kid had a carefully prepared baby book, I needed to do something so he would not feel left out. Although nothing in town fit the bill, fortunately the internet came to my rescue. On Amazon I found a darling baby book designed especially for adoptive moms and babies.

page says The Journey to You

Along with the usual baby shower pages, this book also had a place to put a picture of our fantastic social worker. It has a place to put our thoughts while we were waiting and a picture of the moments we first met.

page says your announcement

In my thinking, the coolest thing about it is that it is worded so carefully it could even be used with an older adopted child, not just a newborn.

page says your first year with us

Like I did when my other two were tiny, I have been sitting at my table going through pictures and journaling about them and recording their milestones. I suppose I find it soothing to do something so "normal" that I did with my other babies. Somehow it has been really important to me to make sure this baby has a baby book that is just right for him, something he can look at in the years to come.

page says month one

It's possible that since he is male this will mean about as much as used Kleenex to him, but for me it has been therapeutic, something mommy-ish to cling to through the uncertain ride to getting Baby Bear and now finding our balance in parenting and open adoption and fielding the questions and opinions and yes, even grief that is the ongoing journey of adoption. I grieve with his birth mother; I grieve for the lost days for myself; I grieve for children still out there who need homes. Adoption touches a deep place in my heart and somehow the tears I shed as I wrote in this simple book are healing to my heart.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cocoa Mugs

Several weeks ago, I reported a family outing to paint mugs at Wild at Art. A week later we picked up the finished mugs and have since each enjoyed using our unique creations. Although I'd promised pictures to several people, the excitement over the new baby drove it clean out of my head until today when I was going through some photos Curly had taken. Luckily for me, she had carefully documented our fine artistic endeavors and here they are:

Curly's mug is a riot of swirling color. The purple oblong shapes are "band-aids" and the bottom of the mug is stamped with a big star and her initials. If you look carefully, her name is written on the side.

Instead of a mug, Mister chose a cream pitcher. He painted it accidentally in patriotic colors and seems quite pleased with the result. Even though it has a pour spout, he insists on drinking from it, with comical results when he tips it too far toward the pouring end.

Hubby also chose a cream pitcher, intending to use it to steam half-and-half for his home barista efforts. Instead, it usually gets used to mix baby formula right now. He chose a star field and the inside of the cup has a whimsical starburst on the bottom.

My cup was intended to look like a sunset with the dark sky creeping downwards. The color blending didn't turn out quite as smooth as I'd hoped, but the colors look nice. With stars beginning to appear in the night sky, I thought it would be fun if they spelled something in Braille, since patterns of dots like stars always look like they ought to spell something to me.

I think we're all quite pleased with our mugs, as they turned out to be not only useful but a fun reminder of a pleasant evening spent together as a family.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Years

Happy Birthday, Little Mister!!!

Three Years Ago

Age One

Age Two

Today!!! Happy birthday to my cuddly, cute, gentle, loving, bright, cautious, thoughtful son. We love you, Little Mister!

Three Weeks

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Paternity Leave

When we started this whole crazy business of adoption, we thought we'd have to travel to points south to get our baby, which would involve waiting for a week or so until interstate papers could be signed to bring the baby to our home state. In anticipation of this week of travel, Hubby saved up as much leave time as he could scrape together over the course of the past year.

Then it turned out a baby from close by in our own state surprised us and here we had all this travel money and leave time saved up that we did not need. What a good problem to have!

Hubby decided to go ahead and take a week of paternity leave as planned, so he stayed home with us last week. I was a little concerned that his introverted personality would not be able to handle the preschool zoo for an entire week without escaping to his office-cave, but he did surprisingly well. We took turns with the night shifts and then sleeping during the day. He took the older kids on several fun outings.

Best of all he got to bond with Baby Bear in a way he did not do with Little Mister. He has fed, held and changed diapers with patient cheerfulness in a way few Daddies ever seem to manage. I am so impressed! He says that it's a mark of Father Initiation to get barfed on, and Baby Bear certainly has complied. Hubby is well-initiated.

Over and over, I think how blessed my kids are to have a Daddy who takes such an interest in them even from such a young age. It blesses me, too, to have the help and to be a team rather than trying to do all the baby stuff myself. What a great guy!