Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making Plans for Tomorrow

While Micah plays, he also apparently is making plans for tomorrow.  I hope Grammy and Grandpa are available, because he plans on seeing them.

Micro What?

Before Samantha was born, we knew she had microcephaly.  I remember the word being thrown around, but I had no idea what it was or what it meant.  Basically, the only thing I heard was the teacher in Charlie Brown spewing out terms and a whole lotta nonsense.  Oh yeah, and my undying faith that everything would be ok and she wouldn't have this mico-whatever-it-is for long.

Fast forward 8 beautiful years.

I have a daughter who has microcephaly.  It didn't go away.  In fact, the severity of it increased.  There is still so much about microcephaly that we don't know, but there is a whole lotta stuff that I do know, that isn't nonsense to me anymore.  Stuff I know...that I have one awesome daughter.  And I'm not talking just cool...she is that...but I mean AWE.SOME.  And you know what?  I have come to realize that a lot of that awesomeness is wrapped up with this microcephaly business.  Don't get me wrong, she would be awesome without it too...but I can't deny that her diagnosis...her struggles...all her imperfections make her all the more perfect.  So much better of a person than I am.  She is who I want to be like.

Today, we wear yellow (Callie wears specks of it, but it counts) with others to remind ourselves that light shines from our children, no matter what size their 'ole head is.  That Sammy may have a small head, but I think it's the heart that matters to the Lord.  I mean, isn't it true?  Who has a greater impact on our lives, in a long run, someone who looks perfect, or someone whose heart is so large you just feel good around them?  I say it's about the size of the heart.

I love our Sammykins!  And today we celebrate Microcephaly Awareness Day!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dentist Fun

Sammy's had a tooth that has been rather bothersome...or so I thought.  The truth is, we don't know.  But all of a sudden she's been grinding her teeth and it is completely ooc (out of control)!!!  The adult tooth had already come in but the baby tooth was just still in there...it was getting to the point where it was twisted and pointed directly into her lip.  Do I know it bothers her?  No.  But she's been grinding her teeth and playing with it a whole lot.  So, why not try and see what's going on?

We go to a pediatric special needs dentist.  I knew that if she needed to have a procedure done, this dentist was equipped with everything for her and if needed, could be done at the hospital.  But to my utter delight, the dentist said this could be a quick procedure done right there in the office.  So, a few weeks later, we returned.

 Here she thinks she's just taking a day off school.  No.  We're headed to the dentist sweetheart.

 All ready to smile for the dentist!

 They strapped Sammy into a little papoose and then placed a weighted blanket over her.  She was so calm and compliant.  I sat on the chair with her, by her feet.  But she was so tough, I'm not sure she even needed me.

 She didn't complain, but she wanted to know what was going on...everywhere.
After she was all numb, they pulled the tooth.  It took all of about 5 seconds!

 Despite the hung over look, there were no tears, no screams.
She was great.  But I kept her home so I could make sure she didn't bite her numb lip off.

I don't know if the tooth needed to be pulled.  I don't know if it was bothering her.  I don't know if it was worth all the trouble.  There's so much about Samantha that I don't know.  Think about all the stuff about our children that they don't tell us, that they hold in.  This is Samantha times 1,000 because she doesn't have the ability to say one word to me.  She doesn't complain.  She doesn't point.  She doesn't have words.  And so, I get her tooth pulled because that's what I can do.  I use my best guess.  And sometimes, that's all I can do.  But luckily, it is something I can do.  So, this appointment was a success.  I got her tooth pulled, we spent the day together, and...my little girl is still grinding her teeth.  eeeeeee

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy

I recently joined a book club.  I love book clubs.  They make me happy.  There are two main reasons that I love book clubs:

1) I love all things BOOK.  I was an English teacher for a reason.  If we allow it, literature expands our minds and we are able to learn so much through others' written experiences.  In a book club, I'm exposed to books that I, perhaps, wouldn't normally pick up on my own.  I am able to share with others my thoughts, but more valuable to me is hearing what everyone else has to say.

2) As all the book clubs I've ever been a part of have been all women, it's some good Girl Time away from my daily stuff.  I love being a mom.  But let's get real.  A good discussion about books is not a part of my daily routine.  Book Club is great Me time that helps fill my vessel.

So, The Water is Wide was the first book I read for our new book club.  I liked it.  I really did.  Maybe, oh, 3 out of 4 stars.  I put it down thinking, "Oh, that was good."  But for some reason it's not among my list of books that I tell people, "You must read this!"  I'm not sure why it wasn't bumped up to that list for me, but it wasn't.  It was a great story, based on Pat Conroy's life experience, of a teacher (Conroy) who teaches on an island.  The children he teaches are impoverished African American children whose education has been pathetically neglected.  There is a school, yes.  But this school definitely does NOT meet the standards of any type of school we would now expect.  But back in 1969, Yamacraw Island and her struggling children were so easily overlooked.  Conroy comes to the island, ready to make a difference.  Time after time he is faced with challenges...that ultimately lead to his dismissal.  Yes.  The school board fires him.

We have the idealistic teacher.
We have the children who are neglected.
We have the children who don't care that their education has been neglected.
And the few children who do, and begin to absorb this new thing called learning.

And then there's the black teacher/principal, Mrs. Brown, who is too scared to make any white man with authority angry that she paralyzes herself.  There was a line at the end of the book when Conroy suggests that Mrs. Brown, is perhaps, the most tragic of the people involved in the story.  I agree.  She created her own prison built on insecurity and fear.  She knows better.  She sees the possibilities.  But she will not go against the Board because they hold the power.

She makes me think.

Because I was born in a middle class white home, and education was a priority, I'll never be like those kids on the island.  I have compassion for them, but I will never be like them.

I'm not like Dr. Piedmont, the all mighty man who sits on top and directs the board how he'd like.  I'm just not.  Our perspectives are too different.

Maybe I am a touch like Pat Conroy.  I have a desire to help others.  Sometimes, maybe, unrealistically.  After all, that is one reason we fundraise every year.  Yes, for Sammy, but we want to help make a difference in our community...if only bit by bit.

But Mrs. Brown.  She's scary because I wonder if there are times in my life when I'm like her...and I don't want to be like her.  Are there times when I build my own walls of insecurity...so I don't say anything, I don't stand up for something, I don't think outside the box...or, more likely, I DO but then don't act on it?  No matter what level it's on, I want to always have that confidence to do what needs to be done.  At times, it may mean following orders...but am I brave enough to know when to stand up when others are sitting?

Great book.  Made me think a lot about education, racism, poverty, and overall character.

Glad I read it.  Glad I'm in this book club.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Get Me to Gizdich!

I've had it with the weather.  Do you hear me weather gods?  No more will I be cold in the morning and hot by noon.  Darn it to heck and by willy wonkers...No more!  No more teasing me into awakedness with crisp air only to laugh in my face when I'm sweating hours later.  Oh jeans and sweatshirts, we will be together again soon.  No more, I say!  So last Friday I took matters into my own hands.  I'm a mom after all.  And moms possess a power unlike any other.  That's right.

I was going to officially declare it Autumn Weather Time.

Callie had a day off school. I decided to take advantage of that free time and off we went sans Sammy (a post of this is forthcoming because the thoughts of doing family activities without Sammy has been on my mind for years...and I think I've come to a conclusion) and headed to Watsonville!

"Callie.  Do you want to go apple picking?!"

She couldn't contain her excitement and handled the ridiculously long drive with ease.

I didn't realize how far we would actually be driving since for whatever reason I was thinking Gizdich was in Morgan Hill.  WRONG.  Watsonville.  It's over the mountains.  The weather got suddenly cooler as we approached.  We got there shortly after they opened.  There was sharp crispness to the air, but it wasn't too bad.  And we had the entire orchard to ourselves.  It. was. amazing.  Callie kept saying, "This is so fun!"  She asked if we could come back for her birthday, and I had to sadly inform her that apple picking season is usually over by January. But she came up with a new idea...we're taking Grandma and Grandpa when they come and visit in April...berry picking perhaps?

 Gizdich.  The Mecca of Pick Yourself fruits


 We parked the car at the main barn and walked the 1/4 mile to the orchard with a wheelbarrow and buckets.  Callie was pretty thrilled to be in charge of the small bucket.

 apples, apples, and more apples

 Micah did not appreciate being restrained to his stroller, but I'll be honest.  He's been a little rascal lately and I didn't trust him.  Even though we had the place to ourselves, I wasn't totally keen on the idea of chasing him around.

 But, I decided to let him out.  And he was happy for it.
I did chase him through the orchard.

 Callie guided Micah so lovingly.  I was so proud of her. She showed him how to pick apples without making them all fall to the ground. She tried anyway.  And showed him to how softly place the apples into the bucket. Some of the best parts of the day was just seeing them apple pick together.

We picked Galas and Pippins. I don't think I've ever had a Pippin, so we got a few just to try them out.

 Here we see a display of the classic game: Apple Throwing. The apples that were rotting on the ground I let them pick up and throw. I know. Maybe not totally classy, but we were the only ones there and it was fun to see how far they rolled down. It brought immeasurable joy.

 This could be my favorite picture of the day.
There's something to simple about it. The day was fun. Relaxed. Apple-icious. It was nearly perfect.


 Next game up is Apple Bowling.
Yes, with plentiful apples around that ants were crawling all over, I let them bowl. Unfortunately the orchard didn't have bowling pins available, so they just bowled between my feet.

 I was sad that we couldn't pick any Honey Crisp...my fave. But we brought home a TON of Galas!!!

 And we got a bit dusty...or dirty...however you want to look at it.

 We were on a Mommy's Day Out, so heck ye-ah we were going to slam down some homemade apple pie from the apple orchard. The 3 of us shared in this splendor. mmm

I'm not saying I did it all, but the weather has been more enjoyable since we went apple picking and declared it officially the end of summer...like, for real the end of summer. It even rained yesterday. Was it me? Was it these 2 cute kids and their smiling faces? You be the judge, but I don't believe in coincidences.

Seriously though, it was such a fun morning. By the time we left, people were just getting there. It was getting hot and we had out bucket full of beautiful apples. On the way home we drank homemade apple juice and ate delicious apples. I really think it was what we needed...just some time together.

I think we'll be singing "Get Me To Gizdich" again and again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birthday Celebration(s)

Since Micah is now 2, I suppose it's fitting that he had 2 celebrations.  On Thursday we made a family trip and drove over to Lindsey's house.  We wanted his birth family to be able to celebrate, and it seemed like it would be a whole lot easier for us to come to them this year than to ask them to drive down to see us.  Marcus was already going to take 1/2 day off work, so it just worked better all around.  And of course, we're so glad we did.  Every time we leave their house, we wish we'd come up more often.  They are so warm and friendly and we love being with them.

 Cake #1

Happy Birthday dear Micah...Happy Birthday to you! 

Lindsey and Sammy are buds.  They just are.  Sammy really loves Lindsey, and Lindsey...she seems drawn to Sammy.  I'm not exactly sure why.  Perhaps it's because Lindsey so easily sees people for who they are and not what they appear to be...what their outer shells are made of.  It seems that they have a very sweet bond.

When we began our road toward adoption many years ago, before Callie was born, we knew that there would be people who saw we had a special needs child and decide that we weren't the family for their child.  We knew that for some, that would be a turn off.  Callie came very quickly, and it didn't seem to bother her birthmother at all.  Latice knew about our family as much as she could and felt peaceful that Callie would have all she needed.  Samantha's disabilities didn't seem to bother her at all and we were grateful for that  

Years later, we met Lindsey.  One day I asked Lindsey about Samantha and how she felt about her.  Lindsey told me she didn't have a problem with us having a special needs child; in fact, she thought it was a good thing...that her son would grow up with a sister who would teach him compassion, patience, service and Christ-like love.  I don't remember the exact words she said, but it was something along those lines.  I'm not sure if she understands how much that meant, and still means, to us.  I think one reason we love Lindsey so much and it's been so easy to accept her and her entire family with open arms is because she has always accepted us as we are since day 1.  Now, from day 1 she didn't know we were her family, but from the first email, there was a tenderness and humility...she is so full of love and that shows in how she so easily and readily accepts all she meets.  

And Sammy loves her for it.

Two beautiful ladies 

 Micah wasn't as interested in being with everyone else.  He just wanted to do his own thing and tried to force others to do it with him.  Of course, it's pretty easy to be weak and go along with whatever it is he wants.  I think this is around the time he was forcing his birth uncle, Jake, to play with him.  And I think it worked.  Look at him...as if he owns the place!

Callie was happy to be there with Cindy.  We're working on that smile. 

 Half the group...

aaaaand the other half.

I was so happy that Micah's birth family could celebrate with us.  And I was so happy to meet Steve's family.  See that stellar man standing behind Lindsey?  That's Steve.  And Steve has been by Lindsey's side since during her pregnancy.  As a friend (who has also been adopted), he has been there for her to answer questions from the child's point of view.  He was there...as a friend...who just wanted to help her out however he could.  And when you go through something like that, you develop this beautiful relationship -- one with a foundation of trust, faith, and selflessness.  And now....they're getting married!!!!  And I'm sooo excited!  I was so happy to be able to meet the rest of Steve's family.  They are delightful and great and I'm so over-the-moon happy for these two and hope for all the happiness in the world.  Can't wait for the wedding!  (Micah will look so handsome.)
 We came home with a trunk full of gifts.  That night, we got home pretty late, but I let Micah open 1 present before bedtime (because Callie insisted).  Micah was pretty thrilled about his new golf set.  So cute.  One thing that's not so cute?  Him banging the golf club against our glass sliding door!  That was loud.  And worrisome.  But I think he's learned not to do that anymore.  

I think.

 Today was round 2 of Birthday Bash.  And, this is what he did when I told him to smile.
I mean really.  This kid kills me.

 I'm not really a cake person.  But when it comes to birthdays, I believe there should be cake...of some kind.  Callie decided Micah should have a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  And baddaboom baddabing.  Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting was had by all.

I know I've been trying to be "healthy" and all, but come on, this is birthday cake.  So you better believe this was packed with cocoa powder, chocolate chips, caramel filled chocolate chips, sour cream, whipped cream...a ton of fat and sugar.  Happy Birthday Micah!  We all willingly clog our arteries for you...because we love you that much.  (And tomorrow, I start healthy again...because I want to live to see your next birthday!!!)
 Micah having some pre-cake strawberries.

 (no, he's not trying to burn his hand.  I assure you though it may appear he is touching the flame, he is not.)
 Callie coaching the candle-blowing-out
 He took the coaching quite well and blew the candles out like a pro.
Sammy was clearly proud of her younger brother.  Or else she's just happy she can finally eat some of that cake.  And yes, those are pink candles.  Our son is wearing a football jersey and blowing our pink candles.  We want our kids to be well rounded.

 Oh I love this boy.

 Micah kept trying to grab the little chocolate chips off the cake.  Callie kept sliding it further and further away.  He wasn't too happy about that, but he was distracted when he got his gift from Grammy and Grandpa.

 Which was...a keyboard.  Let me tell you...Micah has Lindsey's musicality.  For sure.  He LOVES pianos.  He always wants me to sing to him.  And I've caught him singing along to songs and it melts me every time.  He's been playing with the keyboard non-stop since we've gotten home.  It's been about 2 hours!  Ok, so the "non-stop" part is an exaggeration...but seriously, it's been a whole lot.

 All the kids cuddled around Grandpa watching home videos on his phone.

Back in the day when I had to walk to school in 5 feet of snow, uphill both ways...way way back...when we wanted to watch home videos, my dad had to take the HUGE video camera, dig through a shoebox of cords, connect the video camera to the tv, and we'd watch it on the screen...none of this home videos on the phone business.  My kids have life so easy!


Two years have flown by, and yet, it feels like Micah's always been here.  Always.  I guess that's what happens when a missing part of the puzzle is found and placed next to the other pieces.  It fits.  Perfectly.  It's as it should be.  As if it's been there all along.  Micah, in a very real way, is one of those puzzle pieces.  He fits.  He belongs in our crazy family puzzle.

And a word on Lindsey: Lindsey has been such a great surprise.  She was like adding a puzzle piece that we didn't even know was missing!  We didn't know what an open adoption would really be like.  We knew we were open to it.  We wanted an open relationship with Latice, but quickly lost touch with her after a few weeks with Callie in our home.  Luckily we have pictures together, but we had certainly planned on more and we sad to lose that connection.

We had ideas for openness.  We felt comfortable communicating and sharing pictures, emails, staying in contact.  We felt comfortable with visiting, etc.  We were honest when we told Lindsey we wanted to keep in touch.  We wanted those things because we felt it was the best thing for our child.  We wanted anything that was best for him.  And that meant embracing Lindsey and having her be a part of his and our lives.  BUT.  BUT BUT BUT.  Who knew that it would also be the best thing for us and for all our kids?  We had no idea that we would fall in love with her.  I quickly felt connected to her.  It was odd.  We hoped that she was the one carrying "our" baby, but we had had 3 other adoptions that didn't work out.  Those were horribly painful.  We didn't want to go through that again and tried to express to her that she had NO obligation to choose us unless she knew for sure...not to rush into it...let's just get to know each other.  We wanted her to feel really good about her choice.  Quickly, I grew to love her and who she is.  When she told us that she felt we were her son's family, there was no way we could ever shut her out.  Not only because we felt that would be harmful to Micah's future, but also because I had grown to love her so deeply, I would feel a part of me missing if we were to just go separate ways.  Lindsey's become a friend and a sister in so many ways.  A piece of our family puzzle.  And our entire family is blessed because of our relationship with her.  Sammy, Callie, and Micah all have more people in their lives who adore them because Lindsey (and her family) remains in our life.  We are blessed.  I love her and on Micah's birthday, our hearts are so full of deep gratitude and honor for this amazing woman who is an incredible example to me of faith, love, hope, charity, patience, forgiveness, and humility.

On Micah's birthday, I sent her this message.  Though I told her this on September 11, we think it everyday of the year.

Lindsey the Great. Today, we celebrate Micah's birthday. But today we honor you. We will never ever be able to express our gratitude to you. Maybe one day in the eternities when we're hanging out and chatting, I'll have a language that will be able to better express the deepest feelings of my heart. Until then, know that you are our earthly angel. You were a humble instrument in the Lord's hand and delivered (quite literally) what Heavenly Father had for us. Your faith, love, and amazing sacrifice is never lost. You are an inspiration to me and who I hope to more like. I love you...my fellow mother and friend. Gosh we sure got lucky. Who knew I'd gain another incredible sister. I love you. I love you. I love you. Happy Birthday to little Micah. Can't wait to celebrate with you and the family tonight! Wow. We gained soooo much when Micah came into our lives. I love your family! I love you!


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