Friday, May 24, 2013

"I'm like a real artist."

If you need an easy little craft to do with your kiddo this weekend.....and something that you could probably end up hanging in their playroom, bathroom, bedroom, or anywhere really to make them feel super's what you need:

A cheap little canvas; Michael's always has them on sale and I got this one for $3.
Tape; masking or washi.

Tape a pattern onto the canvas.  Georgia's four year old hands were a little too frustrated to master this on her own so I helped her out in creating a pattern.  Make sure you press the tape down firmly so paint doesn't leak into the various areas.

Let them go to town.

Let the masterpiece dry over night and then peel the tape off.

And then hang it up somewhere prominent so your four year old can say, "I'm LIKE a real artist."

"You certainly are Georgia."

And apparently I'm "like a real writer" today or something too. I had a piece published in Adoptive Families magazine this month and I am so honored to have been picked by this amazing publication and resource for adoptive families of all kinds to contribute to their "Celebrate Adoption Collectors Issue."

Happy Weekend!  Ribs and good friends were on the menu over here tonight!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fear and First-Borns.

There's this story about me that my mom can clearly remember when I was about ten years old......I wanted some more ketchup to go with my french fries at McDonald's and she was busy with my sister......the place was she just casually mentioned to me, "Just go up to the counter and ask for a few more packets."

I was paralyzed with fear over that.  I went without ketchup.

Another time we were vacationing with my parents friends up north at a lake and I was about eight or nine.  My moms friend was floating in an inner tube at the end of the dock.  I don't know what she asked me to do, what I was contemplating doing, or what the context of the conversation was but I remember so clearly that she laughed at me and in an annoyed voice said, "Seriously, Maggie--don't be such a worry-wart."

I hear her voice over and over on a regular basis whenever I'm afraid to do something new.

Back in kindergarten we had a guest speaker one day.  I remember exactly where I was sitting, what it smelled like in the room, and that everyone else in the class thought the guest speaker was awesome.  My teacher announced that we were going to take a trip to Japan!  We were going to learn about what Japanese people ate, wore, did for fun, and what their houses looked like.  It was going to be a great trip.  The guest speaker started clicking through slides of Japan.  I sat in my seat crying silently.  I was sweating, my heart was pounding, and I wanted to raise my hand to call home but I was too scared.  I literally thought we were going to go to Japan.  My mom and dad didn't know. Who would tell them?  I didn't want to go.  And I can honestly conjure up some of the anxiety that I felt right now as I type this.

Note to kindergarten teachers everywhere--some kids take you seriously....very seriously. Be careful.

My freshman year of high school everyone had to take a semester of swimming.  Nothing a fourteen year old girl likes better than being initiated into high school with a fourth hour co-ed swimming class in which you get to listen to the boys make comments under their breath about which girls had the best butts and which ones didn't.  Awesome.  But, I could swim pretty good, so I held my own.  And then they sprung the backward dive on us.  I wasn't about that.  I remember standing on the end of the diving board in front of thirty of my class-mates refusing to dive backwards into the pool off the high dive.  I was terrified.  And I couldn't force myself to do it despite the fact that I had to take a shameful walk back off the diving board and down the ladder as everyone moved out of the way for me.

I still won't do a backwards dive and I've been pretty successful despite it.

As a thirty five year old there isn't much, in general, I'm too scared of anymore.  Sure, there might be internal battles involving trepidation and self-doubt, and risk, but I don't frequently let them show and I don't stand at the end of high dives crying or shake in fear at the mention of an analogous trip across the Pacific.  And it's easy to forget that I once was.......that scared girl......who was afraid to take risks and who could work herself into a ball of nerves over condiments for french fries, but that is buried deep inside me and I've had to get to know that girl again lately.

For my daughter.

Because my daughter is that girl.

Slides.  She's terrified of them--even after a year of pre-school and watching other kids do it every day.  Today at the McDonald's play-land (clearly, McDonald's and terrifying situations run deep for us) she sat trapped in a tube crying as other kids pushed around her to laugh and shriek as they went down the slide.  Kids younger than her and her good friend tried to coax her down the slide.  She physically and mentally couldn't get herself to do it.  I waited for her at the bottom, telling her she could do it and wishing I could wedge myself up into that purple plastic petri dish to help her down.  But she wouldn't do it.

She won't run through sprinklers.  She can watch kid after kid run screaming through streams of water and she'll stand back and watch.  I'll run through it; in my clothes.  She's not convinced.  There is nothing I can do to make her think that sprinklers are fun.  To her, they are an instrument of torture and an unnecessary summer pastime.

When she was three we went to gymnastics class--for toddlers.  She clung to my leg like a vice while everyone else climbed over mats, did somersaults, and swung on rope swings that were an inch off the floor.

And I've spent a lot of time being really frustrated about this fear of hers.  I didn't get it.  These things weren't scary.  Nothing traumatic has happened to her in the midst of any of these things to make them taboo.  I never have just thrown her into anything without warning.

She's just fearful.
She's just careful.
She's just easily prone to anxiety.

She's just like me.  Just like me.

And I need to learn to be okay with it. Because people were okay with it for me.
It's interesting.....the longer I parent the more I realize how much of 'us' our kids glean even if we don't think we're overtly displaying certain character traits; even if they've been latent in us for a long time.....they inherit them because they probably seep through our cracks more than we realize.

I certainly don't believe that I should never push Georgia out of her comfort zone.  I must, as her parent. But it means that when she has real fear of slides, or sprinklers, or gymnastics class,  I need to ask myself how I can help her through this or just let it go, let her be who she is and be okay with the fact that she might not ever slide down a potato sack slide at a carnival, do a round-off, or spend hours in a sprinkler on hot summer days.....and really, it's no big deal.  Just like me not doing a backwards dive--who cares?

She's tried.  A lot.  It's not for her.  At least not right now.
She does a lot of stuff that is hard for other four year olds--and she does it well.

It's so easy to get frustrated when our kids are afraid to do something.  And it's so common for kids to be afraid to do something.  But one thing I've learned is that they'll never do it faster or better or quicker or......ever,  if I get frustrated with the fact that it's not happening on my time-line.....or when other kids do it.

Some things......can just wait.  Some things......don't need to get done.

Because some things......just don't matter.
There's plenty that do.  And that's what I'm concentrating on.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

For the mama's.

We all know a lot of incredible women.  Astounding in fact.  A few that have made an impact on my life this year.....and a list that is by no means exhaustive.........

My mom....

For showing me what intentional, selfless, creative, and unconditional mothering looks like.  From the projects she made up to do with us to the lunches she packed for us everyday through high school to the thoughtful family vacations she planned to the way she showed me how to be a mom.  She is my most revered role-model.


Because I see her almost everyday, I use her as my benchmark. She's done more parenting than me and she helps me feel sane....and like I'm actually a normal, just like everybody else parent. If she's not getting ruffled by something kid related, I should probably relax too.  If she's taking time to get to the bottom of a behavior, I should too.  She tempers me.......and that's so good for me.


Maybe one of the most atypical first time moms I've ever known (even though she has two kids now). Liz is logical and calm, and things that first time moms (like me) get upset about she just lets roll off her shoulders.  I can ask her anything and I know I'll get a thoughtful, clear, and applicable answer.  I can't imagine 'momming' without her.

Georgia and Liz's daughter Emma last summer.


My friend Mandie is probably the most patient, calm mom I've ever known.  When I watch her with her kids I learn how to be a better mom, even if it's just a five minute interaction.  The peace that she instills in her home because of her demeanor is a gift to her family.  No matter how many things she has going on--and with four kids--it's always a lot, she is calm.  Way calmer than I could ever imagine being.  She is one of the most genuine, authentic, kind, and inspirational people I know.


Adoptive moms know, even though we won't readily admit it, that our kids are not our own until a judge says so.  But as every mama knows, when you bring that baby home from the hospital and spend sleepless nights with her, when he's crying and only stops when you pick him up, when her first smile is directed at you, when you spend hours trying to figure out his sleeping pattern, when you realize instantly that you'd throw yourself in front of a bus for a little life that you just met...........they are yours--no matter how many people tell you to hold loosely.  Adoptive mamas throw all caution to the wind and love those babies unconditionally even though we know the risk of getting our hearts ripped out is looming.  It's what moms do.  And this year, my friend Karen learned how to hold loosely and tightly all at the same time.  Her stamina, grace, faith, tenderness, and love for a child were tested and refined through a contested adoption.  She asked herself hard questions and prepared for heart-break.  She taught me how to be strong and confirmed for me how powerful the prayers of many can be for our children.  Her adoption was finalized in March and she deserves this Mother's Day one hundred times over.


Lyndsey's older sister passed away in 2008, leaving two amazing little girls behind.  Lyndsey is an aunt to them like none other as well as being a fantastic mom to her own two kiddos.  She goes out of her way to do special things with her nieces, spend any free time she can with them, make countless trips across the state to be with them--if even just for an afternoon--, and she regularly asks herself what more she could be doing for them.  Her example of sacrifice and love to those little girls is inspiring to me as a mom.  


If you've been here long, you know that Tarah is Georgia's birth-mom.  When I look at pictures of the two of them I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love and am so honored to know this amazing woman.  I am thankful every day that she picked us and sacrificed so much to allow me the opportunity to be Georgia's mom.  I am thrilled that Georgia gets to have such an incredible role-model in her life.  

And I could go on and on......

Heather, for being such a hard-working mom, listening to my four-year old issues and providing me affirmation that I'm not doing it wrong--and for being a great boss too.

Jaren, for living in the moment with her kiddos and soaking in every detail of them.

Marci, for being so flexible.  You don't get worked up about kid stuff--you just let it happen and adapt to it.  I need more of that.

Cathy, you're such an intentional grandma to Georgia and you go out of your way on a regular basis to make things so fun for your grand work tirelessly at it.

Lianne, you think hard about what is best for your kids and want to do what you know is right even when people around you might question a decision or two........oh.......your kids will thank you for it one day.

Julie, your road to motherhood is so inspiring.  It's not the path you might have imagined it would take--but it's so incredible.....and to hear how you pour into your kids lives and soak up every moment that you are given with them is amazing.  You are absolutely the step-mother every Disney princess really wanted.

Danielle, a mom for one week so far and the newest member I know in one of the best clubs around--the adoptive mama club--your story and your patience and your determination are the makings of many proud parenting moments to come!

And if you know someone who wants a Mother's Day to be for them one day soon and it's just taking a long time to arrive-- give them an extra hug tomorrow, some extra grace, and some extra space if they need it.

Happy Mother's Day.  Happy Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Isabella Rossellini. She's pretty smart.

"Adoption has the dimension of connection--not only to your own tribe, but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties, and family. It is a larger embrace. By adopting, we stretch past our immediate circles and, by reaching out, find an unexpected sense of belonging with others." -- Isabella Rossellini

Oh, how true that is.  If Isabella was a preacher and I was sitting in her congregation I would shout a confident "Amen."  I might even throw in a "preach it sister." When I consider all the AMAZING women I have 'met' as a result of adoption--women that are far beyond my immediate circle--I stand in awe, again, of adoption.  Some of these women I would consider close friends....and I hope that one day.....I can actually hug them so hard (and I'm not a hugger) and kiss their kiddos and tell them thank-you for their friendship.  Friendship that stretched over hundreds of miles, different family backgrounds, different kinds of adoption, different results, different.............but the same.  Because the experience of adoption unites us.  With a deep, thick cord that can never be cut.  With people we never would have known otherwise. 
I think about my friend Amber.  Her son is the same age as Georgia.  And they are spit-fires like none other.  I think if we ever did meet we'd need to make sure there was a track available so our kids could just run laps together.  We've talked about adoption, stubborn four year olds, blogging, and more.  I never would have met her had it not been for adoption.

I met someone named Beth this year.  She's incredible.  So strong.  It was such an emotional year for her and now.....she has this amazing little girl that is perfect and......hers.  She lives far away from me and I've never heard her voice.  But her little girls birth announcement hangs on my fridge and I look at it every day and I'm so thankful for adoption and that she e-mailed me back in October with a question about domestic adoption that we were able to turn into so many e-mails back and forth sharing struggles and victories.   

Karen.  I grew up with her and knew her through church but I was older than her and while we were friendly with each other.....we just had different groups of friends and went to different schools. But after high school I really didn't see her.  She moved to Georgia and that was that.  And then, she started the adoption process and to be honest.....she takes my breath away now and her friendship is one of the greatest treasures God has ever given me.  I hold it so dear.  Her world was rocked this winter, thinking her adoption was falling apart, and I spent so many sleepless hours between two and four in the morning crying for her and praying for her and wanting to hug her.  I'm so glad adoption brought us back together.  And we have some line-dancing (or something else truly Texan) in our near future.  

And it seems like every few weeks, I'm meeting someone else who shares their adoption story with me.   And I love to hear these stories.  They teach me more about adoption and what it means for everyone. They encourage me and inspire me and challenge me and restore a lot of faith in humanity that is so easy to lose sight of.  Some of their stories are hard and sad and heart-breaking.  Some of their stories are similar to mine. Some are vastly different.  Some are still turning into an adoption story; I love those. No matter what they are.....they provide a sense of belonging.  Adoption can be a lonely club, or it can be a tight knit supportive one.  We have to seek out the belonging---it's there, waiting for us. 

I think we all have something in our lives that brings with it a deep sense of belonging; belonging to something different than we'd ever expected to belong to.  Belonging, like Isabella said, with something outside our immediate circles.  I think it's important to look for those far reaching circles.  They generally can open our eyes to something great that we never would have experienced had we stayed safe, and private, and to ourselves. So whether it's an adoption circle, or another them out.  Those circles can be some of the most rewarding experiences of your life. 

Cheers.  To stretching past our immediate circles. 

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