Friday, September 28, 2012

Blog Hop! {Still Open}

I have met some amazing families through the blog hop!

I was asked to open it back up again. So go ahead and grab the link and link up!

Happy hopping!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adoption Blog Hop! {Meet Some Inspiring Mama's}

Welcome to the Adoption Blog Hop.

I spend so much time searching for adoption blogs, I thought it would be fun to have a blog hop!  I love to follow adoption journeys. So grab a cup of coffee and meet some inspiring Mama's.

Please follow as many fellow bloggers as possible.When you stop by their blog, leave them a comment and show them some love! I would love it if you followed my blog, too.

Grab the button, spread the word, and have fun!

Can't wait to meet you!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Am A Soccer Mom {Why We Said Yes To Travel Teams}

"You're crazy!" my girlfriend exclaimed after I told her our weekend soccer schedule.

My 4th grader had four (yes four) soccer games and my little guy had one. And they were all at least 30 minutes away. They both play travel soccer. After years of saying no, we finally caved and let them tryout this year. And, while it has been a huge commitment, it was the best decision we ever made.

My girlfriend thought I was crazy with a Capital C, not only because we drive to games, but because my boys play soccer three times a week. So that means I am carting them from field to field throughout the week.

But what I think she's missing, and this is exactly why we do it, kids who play an intense sport have to be disciplined. In everything. The rule is if your homework is not done (or if you've done poorly at school that day) you don't play. If you don't play, you could lose that precious spot you've worked so hard for. So they are motivated to do well in school, come home, and get their homework done, so they can get to practice.

My little guy, who is only in first grade and is playing on the second grade team, can sit still now. His teacher told me that playing soccer is just as important as his homework. Because he needs to be physical. He needs to be in a constructive environment. He craves it.

And even though they spend so much time on the field, they are still able to play with their friends outside, attend all the regular church activities, and have family time. What they don't do now is watch TV or play video games. Ever.

We looked at several clubs before we allowed our boys to tryout. Some practiced five days a week, which I wasn't ready for. Others were horribly expensive (as in thousands of dollars), which I also wasn't willing to do. We finally settled on a club in our hometown that is sponsored by the park district. I loved the coaching philosophy--they want the kids to grow up loving soccer and to learn how to be team players. Plus the price was right.

But the real beauty of travel soccer it is sitting on the sidelines every weekend and watching your kid on the field playing a game he loves with teammates he's bonded with. The competition is getting tougher and tougher. But they have risen to the challenge.

And cheering on the sidelines is exactly where this soccer mom loves to be every weekend.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Passing the Umbrella: {Seeing the Invisible}

A few weeks ago, we went to an outside church service. Like every other Sunday, we were running late. We didn't even think about grabbing an umbrella. As soon as we sat down, the skies opened. Everyone around us had an umbrella--meanwhile my poor kids huddled under my arms, desperately trying to stay dry.

It didn't take long for someone to take pity on us. He passed us his umbrella.  He stood in the rain and got wet, so my kids could stay dry.

I can't remember what that service was about, but my kids still talk about passing the umbrella. The guy didn't say a word to us. He simply handed us something we  needed.

Last week, we saw a homeless man that we've seen on and off since we moved six years ago. My middle guy wanted to give him food, which we didn't have in the car.  So he settled for praying for him. We quickly prayed that we would have an opportunity to help him.

Honestly, I didn't give the guy much thought after that. I saw him a few times wandering up and down the major street in our town. But I figured there was no real way for me to help him. He was invisible to everyone who sped up and down the street--even to me.

Fast forward to Saturday night. While we were eating dinner at a pretty nice restaurant, and the homeless man walked in. He chose the seat next to mine.

My kids noticed right away. And so did the waitress. She quickly assured us that he came in a few nights a week for a Coke and to get out of the cold. Then she asked if we wanted to switch tables.

To be honest, he smelled. Talked to himself. Swayed back and forth. Wore multiple layers of tattered clothes. I was a little taken aback.

But my kids were watching.

So instead we stayed put. And bought him dinner.

My prayer for my kids is that they will not only see invisible people, but actually do something. That they are brave enough to stay put, stand in the rain, and pass the umbrella.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you Megan from {All Things New} for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! It's my first award I feel so honored.

1. Nominate up to 15 fellow bloggers.
2. Let the nominated bloggers know that they have been nominated for this award.
3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
4. Thank the blogger who has nominated you.
5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post.

My Nominees:

7 Random Facts about Me:
1. I don't like chocolate. M and M's gross me out!
2. My dog is 12 years old and part Lab and part handsome stranger. She is my first baby.
3. I drink only one cup of coffee a day. It is more cream than coffee.
4. I joined a gym 9 months ago. It has been the saving grace for my sanity.
5. I was a cheerleader in high school.
6. I was also the drum major in high school my marching band is in the movie The Fugitive.
7. I met my husband the first week in college. But I refused to go on a date with him for a year. Good thing he kept asking!

Stop by some of the blogs I listed and show 'em some love!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stepping Out in Faith

Every parent has heard these whiny words: But I don’t want to.

The phrase usually flies out of my kids’ mouths when I’m asking them to do things like eat their vegetables, take a bath, or brush their teeth. I don’t ask them to do these things because I take great pleasure is seeing them uncomfortable, but rather because I love them and want them to be healthy.

The last time my four year old whined how much he didn’t want to eat his green beans, he added that mommies never have to do anything they don’t want to do. I tried not to laugh and reminded him about all the loads of laundry I wash, the dishes I scrub, and the toilets I clean. But I also couldn’t help but wonder how many times I’ve told God I didn’t want to do something because it took me too far out of my comfort zone.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I like to be comfortable. I don’t really like unexpected changes or challenges. When we traveled to China to adopt our daughter in August of 2009, I knew I was taking the biggest leap of faith in my life. While I was prepared for our princess to have cleft lip and palate and a repaired congenital heart disease, I was not ready for my new two year old daughter to be so delayed that she was more like a three month old baby.

While I loved the Princess from the minute I saw her picture, and the love grew even more when I held her for the first time, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely devastated to learn that she didn’t know how to walk, how to play with toys, or even how to turn the page of a book. As I watched other parents receive their children, I couldn’t help but notice that their kids could all walk, would smile, and laugh. I found myself asking God why me? Why was my beautiful daughter completely shutdown? Why didn’t she look at us? Why couldn’t she walk? Why did she only weigh 15 pounds?

As I wallowed in my own self-pity, my husband told me something that I already knew: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Let him work. Give him control. Then he gently reminded me that we prayed for God to lead us to our daughter. It was no mistake that we were her parents. So we took our daughter home and settled into our new, sometimes uncomfortable, normal as a family of five.

Five years later, and many, many developmental therapy and speech seasons later, Princess is catching up to her peers. She is smart, spunky, and full of energy. It hasn’t always been easy, but stepping out of my comfort zone has allowed me to experience a new joy. I’m no longer going through the motions of my faith, but I get to experience and see God in a deep and profound way.

I don’t want to think about what I would have missed if I had simply said, “ I don’t want to do this. Adoption is too hard.”

Are you listening to God? Is he asking you to do something? What would happen if you simply trusted him and stepped out in faith?

{I wrote this post for And it appeared there first.}

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

60 Things I Wish Strangers Knew about Adoption

1. Yes, she is my daughter.
2. Luck had nothing to do with her adoption.
3. How much did she cost? Nothing. You can't buy a baby.
4. But if you want to know how much adoption costs--google it.
5. If you want to know how to finance an adoption, I'll talk to you.
6. No, I do not know her biological history.
7. Yes, we knew she had special needs when we chose her.
8. No, we were not paid to adopt her.
9. Yes, I do realize there are a ton of kids right here in the United States that need homes...there's also kids in Russia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and a host of other countries. When will you be adopting or becoming a foster parent?
10.  When she runs up and hugs you, she is not just a really cute, affectionate child. She has an attachment disorder, please don't hug her.
11. Your bio kid may be able to throw a world-class tantrum, but my daughter has one for totally different reasons--mostly because she is scared we will leave her--so please, please don't compare the two.
12. No, we are not infertile.
13. No, we did not adopt just to get that cute little girl we can dress in tutu's.
14. Yes, it is hard. Sometimes very, very hard. Especially the attachment stuff.
15. Yes, we have help. Professional help.
16. Yes, it costs a lot of money.
17. To see her grow and blossom makes it totally worth it.
18. She may want to go back to her birth country one day.
19. I want to go with her.
20. We will play for her college.
21. She is our daughter!
22. I know her nose is crooked.
23. That is part of her cleft.
24. And, yes, it will be repaired when she is done growing.
25. Of course, she knows she has cleft. We have mirrors.
26. She can hear you when you ask. And you're embarrassing yourself.
27. She is under our insurance--because she's our daughter!
28. No, I do not wish I'd given birth to her.
29. She is fearfully and wonderfully made.
30.  I wouldn't change a thing about her.
31. That goes for her cleft, too.
32. I'd agree that a lot of kids would thrive with their birth families even if that means being raised by grandma and grandpa or an aunt and uncle.
33. Unfortunately because of government policies and poverty, a lot of people don't have that choice. So they are forced to make choices most of us can't even imagine.
34. Even so, I believe this is Plan A for her life.
35. I also believe adoption is redemption in a fallen world.
36. Yes, she calls me Mommy.
37. No, it wasn't hard.
38. No, it wasn't love at first sight.
39. But I didn't fall madly in love with the two babies I birthed either.
40. Yes, it was scary to board a flight to China to meet my new daughter.
41. But so was going to the hospital to give birth.
42. Yes, I think about her birthmother.
43. I wish we knew who she was.
44. I wish we could tell her that the little girl she gave the gift of life to is loved, adored, and thriving.
45. She calls our parents grandma and grandpa--just like the other grandchildren. You know, because she's our daughter and part of the family.
46. No, she does not speak Chinese.
47. Maybe someday she will take a class and learn it. But language is not biologically ingrained.
48. I don't know if she has biological siblings.
49. You're right she doesn't look a thing like her two older brothers.
50. Just because we adopted does not make us saints.
51. I did not have to beg my husband to adopt. He was always on board.
52. From the first piece of paper to holding her in our arms, the entire process took 18 months.
53. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
54. For her.
55. Do my kids have different dads? Well, yes, as a matter of fact they do.
56. But they have the same daddy.
57. Yes, she does rule the roost.
58. Probably because she's the only girl.
59. Yes, she wears her tiara everywhere.
60. She is a real princess.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Parenting a Traumatized Child {Understanding Her Past}

My first baby was well planned.

I ate well.

Took vitamins.

Even got extra sleep.

And then when he was finally born, I spent hours holding him, singing to him, reading to him, just being with him. He attached within days, maybe even hours.

We'd page the doctor if he so much as sneezed. OK we were nervous, over-protective, slightly crazy, first-time parents.

But my daughter, on the other hand, spent her first two years in an orphanage.

In a crib. Alone.

She was born with Tetrology of Fallot and cleft lip and palate. And no one called the doctor when she was sick. Actually she was very near death. And, still, no doctor was paged. 

Her heart wasn't repaired until she was well over two years old.

Her cleft wasn't repaired until she was nearly three.

Simply unheard of for slightly crazed, overprotective parents.

But this is the reality of so many adopted kiddos.

So is it any wonder, that they crave attention. But they don't know how to get it? That they can't attach to their mother and father?

Last week at our Theraplay therapy session, my hubby had an Ah-ha moment. Our therapist said that many adopted kids rely on their cuteness to get attention--to become favorites. They smile and hug anyone. My hubby, remembered looking at files that said certain kids were "nanny favorites" in the orphanage.  And the nannies always loved to give them extra attention.

Our daughter was not one of those.

She was just another very sick, actually dying, kid locked away in an orphanage fighting for her life.

I've known all of this since we first got her referral. But there is a difference between knowing and understanding. Because understanding means that I don't get frustrated and stressed when she has her fifth tantrum of the day, for what seems like no reason.


When she clings to me in fear, from something I don't understand.


When she asks me a hundred times a day if I love her.


If she asks me again if I will leave her. 

Instead of frustration and stress, understanding means I have compassion because I know her brain has always been in flight or fight mode. She has fought for her very survival. And there are times, when she's still not sure if we will always be there, always feed her, always love her.

We know that we will never leave her. And that we will love her forever--no matter how she behaves, or what she does, or even how cute she is or tries to act. 

But we have to teach her.

And that takes time and work.

And we've only just begun.

But I have faith that she will be emotionally healed. And she will truly let herself experience the love of a family. And one day, she will realize her place here with us is permanent.

Come back again. I'd love to hear how you are dealing with the past trauma in your child's life. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oh Happy Workout Wednesday!

I dropped off Evie this afternoon, flew out the Kindergarten doors, clicking my heals because for the first time in a decade all of my kids are in one spot at the same time! I have exactly 3 hours and 8 kid-free minutes every single day.

Those sweet minutes fly by. When school started, I really thought I'd start training for my first half marathon (OK maybe not). I guess I was slightly delusional. But I really believed I'd be walking on a treadmill an hour a day. And for the first time since school started a week and a half ago, I did exactly 47 painful minutes on the treadmill.

I am so out of shape. The summer filled with vacations and desserts probably didn't help. So I feel like I'm starting at square one again. After sweating it out of the treadmill, walking up the steps actually makes me want to cry.

Even still, after joining the gym I've learned:
1. When people say you actually have more energy when you exercise, they aren't lying. I actually do! I don't want to collapse on the couch and take a nap anymore.

2. If you exercise your metabolism will go way up and you can eat just about anything you want. That is a vicious lie--even if I ran for 3 hours a day that bowl of icecream is still going to make me weigh 5 extra pounds in the morning.

3. If I just stopped eating my kids leftover macaroni and cheese, crackers, goldfish,chips, chicken nuggets and anything else they happen to leave on their plate, I might be able to enjoy that bowl of icecream without gaining 5 extra pounds. That is true. I've tested it.

I'll be back in the gym on Friday. This time with my girlfriends--which makes getting there even more worthwhile and fun.

Hope you can get out there and exercise!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Fundraiser

Adoption brings joy, anticipation, mountains of paperwork and gathering all the funds.

Oh, that can seem impossible. Especially if you are bringing home two.

The orphanage fee alone for two is $5600 X 2=$11,200! Add in the cost of travel and it can seem down right impossible.

Payne and Evie wait in China. And while they wait their Mama over at ajoyfulheart is busy raising funds to bring them home.

She is offering some amazing items like clothes, jewelry, and darling shoes!

One happens to be this book.

So hop on over to ajoyfulheart and bid on it. Help bring Evie and Payne home.

Happy bidding!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parenting a Traumatized Child {Why There is Hope}

{Definition of Trauma} a disorder psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury

Like head banging, lying, stealing, tantrums, guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, withdraw, hyper-activity.

Which have been brought about by abandonment, abuse, neglect, traumatic medical experience.

Many adopted children have experienced more trauma in their short little lives than most people ever do.

And as parents, we often feel lost and alone as our child, the one we prayed for and hoped for, bangs his head on the floor.

Or lies.

Or asks if we love them.

Or if we'll leave them, too.

But, but, but...

{Definition of Hope} to expect with confidence

It's not an easy road.

And it's work.

Dirty, in the trenches, cry yourself to sleep, wonder if it will ever get better work.

But our kids--the ones we love more than we could ever possibly image--are loved even more by their Heavenly Father. And his promise of hope is this:

{Jeremiah 29:11-13} For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Stick around, I'm doing a series on parenting a traumatized child. If you are deep in the trenches, I promise you there is hope.