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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weddings are magical – or they should be, anyway. What with all the love and gooey-ooey emotions flowing about, they are a touching affair. This past weekend, Mike and I got to be a part of one such-type weddings, such as...types…of such. We’ve recently become a marriage prep couple at our church. We’ve been a presenting team for Engaged Encounter (marriage prep weekend retreats) for 7+ years now (wow!). On those weekends we share our story with about 30 engaged couples. For marriage prep at church, we meet one-on-one with a soon-to-be-betrothed couple. They take the FOCCUS (a Seventeen-magazine-type-but-Catholic-version compatibility test). We then have the honor of working with this couple as they receive and talk through the results of their exam. They find out the areas where – they probably knew already – they most differ and may run into occasional struggle. Meeting with a couple one-on-one is amazing. That they’re willing to share their deepest struggles with us, and allow us to talk things out with them, is seriously humbling (and a huge responsibility)!

Thankfully, our very first, rookie, guinea pig couple turned out to be Superstar Couple. We had SO MUCH FUN with Jason and Julia…maybe a little too much fun. (But we did also get to see them do some seriously good relationship-communication too). Look, not that it’s a contest, but Jason and Julia will be a hard couple to top. We were just perfectly matched with them, and I can safely say that we all enjoyed our “Companion Coupling.” Wait, that sounds wrong and, um, bad. We were their “Companion Couple”…we did not couple with them.

Anyway, on Saturday they got married at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. The only word I can use to describe it is beautiful. Mike and I were honored to be asked to be the candle bearers. We processed in behind Jason’s brother who carried the cross. The ENTIRE St. James Cathedral Choir then followed behind us as we slowly made our way down the aisle and around the altar to the accompaniment of some seriously rockin’ church organ. Goosebumps. As soon as the wedding coordinator opened the double doors and we stood in the door way with the music filling that amazing sacred place, I had a lump in my throat.

The wedding was followed by a super swanky, super fun reception at the Fairmont Hotel – ooh la la! The wine flowed (yes, yes, it sure did), the food was delectable (all sorts of appetizers followed by your choice of filet mignon and crab macaroni and cheese or salmon with garlic mashed potatoes), the cake was delicious (dark chocolate, baby!), and the dancing…oh, the dancing.

We are ridiculously blessed at our parish to have – who I like to call – the Rockstar Priest. We knew Father Bryan in college and through the years had said, “If we could find that Father Bryan guy, we would MOVE to be in his church.” Well – haha! – he came to us! And sure enough our church has probably doubled – if not more – in size since his arrival two years ago. Basically since the day he arrived though, I’ve been pre-mourning his departure. He is so down-to-earth and approachable. The old ladies love him, the young adults love him, and the kids love him – holy majoly, Zachary ADORES him. Sadly, I’m sure our days with him are numbered (not that he’s dying ‘cuz you’ll see that he’s incredibly young). He brings so much life, energy and joy to a parish; I imagine that we won’t get to keep him for too long. Sniff sniff. Anyway, he has committed to performing our wedding-do-over (our TEN YEAR renewal of vows in August 2011), so I’m super excited about that. He’s awesome and yes, he knows how to have a good time – as can plainly be seen from his fist-pumpin’, raise-the-roof dance moves. It’s not every day you get to see a Catholic priest doing that!

I’m just thankful that we’re making great friends – like Jason & Julia – at church. I know we’ll need to be a really strong community to hold together once Father Bryan has to move on (hopefully that won’t be for YEARS though).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our baby turns 4 today!! Happy Birthday to my baby-cakes Zachary!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(Happy Birthday to my mother-dearest today!) So, I’ll be the first to admit that I thoroughly doubted them. I was the worst mother-wife EVER and doubted every second of the plan. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mike took the training wheels off of Matthew’s bike. To my spousal unit, I was all, “Um, good luck with that little idea there, bucko. There’s NO WAY he’s ready to ride without ‘em.” Yup. I’m eating those words and they’re delicious! With very little practice (maybe just three days of playing outside, letting Mike holding on to the back ‘o the bike for all of two minutes at a time), Matthew can TOTALLY ride his bike. As you can see. And this video especially amuses me thanks to Zachary’s random cameo. It cracks me up! He’s like a little bicycle-helmet-wearing, tricycle-pushing bobble head! (Also note the monkey in the tree in the background of the photo). He’s definitely the next one in need of a bike. He turns four in 8 days for crying out loud! Sheesh.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ooh, Happy Tax Day! (or not depending on how the year shaped up for you). April is a big month for our fam – we kick it off with my dad’s birthday on April Fool’s Day, then my mom’s birthday is the 20th, and in just two weeks Zachary will turn FOUR on the 28th!

I asked the boys the other day what we should get Grandma for her birthday.

They were both deep in thought for a moment and then Zachary – ever so pensively – responded, “Well…..she HAS us!” Like what more could she possibly need?!

Then Matthew, taking it to the next level said, “Yes, and because she has US, she should probably get new toys for US.” Ahhh, I see where this is going.

Zachary also added, “She IS a lady,” (astute little fellow), “So, we should probably get her jewelry too.” Yes! We’re training these boys right! You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law!

Dad was a bit more practical with the ideas. Apparently my parental units have a small appliances-curse (this can also be carried over to bigger things like my dad’s computer). These little electronics work great when first purchased and then gradually just decline in productivity. Not to the point of warranting a new purchase though for my thrifty life-givers. No, they’ll wait it out until things smoke (the car, for example) or just plain stop working all together (the rice-cooker). They have a coffee pot that doesn’t make hot coffee (well, at least it MAKES coffee, then you just have to warm your mug in the microwave); they have a toaster that doesn’t toast (well, it toasts after the fourth push-down); they have a crockpot that burns in one spot (just scrape around the edges and the rest is fine). Seeing as I’m a major crockpot-head, I may go for that one. Then again, life without coffee is not a life worth living. And carbs? Toast?! A necessity.

My dad is definitely one for the practical. He’s not a big dreamer, not a lovey-dovey dude. However, apparently baby birds tug on his ‘ol heart strings like nothing else. I will explain – of course. Like, I’d just leave it with ‘my dad loves baby birds. The End.’ What kind of Blogger do you think I am?!

Last year, for my birthday, Dad helped Matthew build me a bird house. They painted it blue and Matthew wrote his name on it. I LOVE it! We immediately hung it up on the backyard fence where I can see it from the kitchen window (where, I’m fairly certain I spend 89.6% of my life – not the backyard fence – at the kitchen window, looking out at our backyard and our neighbors behind us who are anti-social, rude yet thoroughly intriguing…definite Blog material there). About a month ago, I noticed birds – actually birds! – flying in and out of the bird house. The first chance I had, I quietly and gingerly peeked into the bird house, making sure not to touch anything or get too close. It’s a little dark inside (and with only a small circular opening, it’s hard to see in.) I couldn’t see any eggs, definitely didn’t hear baby birds, but sure enough there’s a very nice cozy-looking nest going on. I was SO excited about it!

I was excited to tell Dad that his project with Matthew was not only decorative (but functional and practical for a bird family as well – now that’s the kind of real estate, my dad would support). I was a little astounded with Dad’s anti-my bird-watching response.

“That mother bird won’t come back now,” he told me.

“No,” I assured him, knowing that the mother won’t come back if humans interact with the eggs or babies, “I didn’t even go close enough to peer all the way in.”

“Doesn’t matter,” he said, “She won’t come back. Those baby birds are goners.”

“So, I’m a baby bird killer?” It sounds like a serial killer’s nickname. Jenny – the Baby Bird Killer.

“Yup. Most likely,” Dad responded nonchalantly.

As if to support his verdict on my guilt, I’ve watched the bird house closely (from my kitchen window!) and – of course Dad has asked nearly every time we’ve spoken – and sure enough, I’ve not noticed any birds flying in and out of there anymore.

“I AM a baby bird killer,” I said glumly to my dad the other day. “It’ll go on my tombstone: ‘Wife, Mother, Daughter, Best Friend, BABY BIRD KILLER.” I probably won’t even be allowed to be buried in the scenic, pretty part of the cemetery. They’ll just dump me in some back, mushroomy, weedy, shady corner.

“Well, maybe not a baby bird killer, but definitely a home wrecker,” Dad said.

Apparently, the number of baby birds being raised in broken homes IS an epidemic that is affecting bird society. Now I’ve got that to add to my guilt list.

I just glanced at the clock and saw it was time to wake up my people. Which means, I go into the boys room, say, “Good morning! It’s time to wake up!” I open their curtain, and start rubbing Matthew and talking gradually louder and louder. Our boys are SO different in how they wake up. Matthew is our teenage boy when it comes to sleeping – could sleep late and long everyday if we let him. Zach wakes up if you breathe loudly.

So, as I’m working on Matthew – rubbing his back, gently start to push and pull a little tiny bit more, I hear from behind me in a loud stage whisper: “Mom? MOM!”


“I love you.”

“I love you too, Zachary. Good morning,” I go over and give him a cuddle.

“Mom? MOM!” (If I don’t respond within a nanosecond, then he goes for twice).


“Um, bunnies are rabbits.”

“Oh, yeah?”

Thinking perhaps I doubt his proclamation, he adds, “It’s true! You can call them bunnies if you want!” Matthew grunts and rolls over.

And our day begins…

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out – the plan is set, the calendar is marked – everything changes! After months of internal debate, I’d finally made a decision. With a very conflicted heart I announced that I was done teaching my music classes at the Montessori School. I just taught my last class there a week ago. I’d been so on the fence about this for so long. It was a great gig! The school directors and staff were all wonderful to me. All I had to do was walk in and I was handed several classes of cute and entertaining preschoolers on a silver platter (it was a BIG platter). But it was just getting to be too much. I also had my classes at the library to consider. If I really felt that I needed to cut back on teaching – which I did – which place was more worth my time? And the library won out. Plus, I only had one more five week session left there which was manageable. Classes wouldn’t start until the end of April; I already had my lesson plans and songsheets ready to go. After the April-May library session, I’d be done with music classes for a while. Because of co-chairing the National EE Convention in October, I plan to not start teaching until AFTER that, and that’s IF we don’t have Baby Girl yet. (When Baby Girl gets here, then all teaching plans are set aside for…I don’t know how long…a GOOD, LONG while. This is definitely one of the beauties of owning my own business – being my own boss, making my own schedule. It’s great! And therefore, VERY hard to give up).

So, library classes – because of time and money – were the only ones left for the school year. I got an email from the head of the Children’s Dept. asking if I’d give her a call so we could talk about the upcoming class schedule. Thinking that we’d just be solidifying dates, I was FLOORED when she told me that – because of her broken foot, they’d had to hire extra people to cover her storytimes, etc. and after crunching numbers, she sadly discovered that they didn’t have the money to pay me for my last Spring session. “So sorry…and would you be willing to wait until the September session?” Um. OK. I explained that I actually wouldn’t be coming back in the Fall…until November at the earliest. I think we were both a little flabbergasted by the whole situation!

Alas, here we are. After months of debating which – if any – of my music classes I should give up I suddenly find myself without any (with the exception of the classes that I teach at Zach’s preschool two days a month…for which I volunteer most of my time). I can’t help but think that I brought this all upon myself…did I somehow break her foot?! This is actually an answer to prayers (not the broken foot…I did not pray for the librarian to break her foot). It’s a blessing in disguise (again, not the broken foot part).

On January 28th, I wrote a blog post on how I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being constantly overwhelmed. I’m tired of being told that I’m “the busiest person” that some people know…that something’s gotta give. Well, things gave. So, now I look – with a little trepidation but also joy – at my newly cleared calendar (still full of plenty of stuff, don’t get me wrong), but now open during the day on every Wednesday and Friday. Maybe I’ll have more time for my husband. For my kids. For writing. Reading. Getting to the gym. Running. Doing housework. Cooking. Laundry. Friends…um, or maybe for me. Maybe I shouldn’t try to already be filling the gaps. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick and eager to add MORE to blank spaces on my calendar. Maybe I should just BE. Maybe I should do LESS.

Um, maybe I should learn how to do that.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Welcome to the ride, my friends; welcome to the ride.

We knew that this adoption business would be a roller coaster. We’ve been told all about that. Read all about that. We’ve even experienced a mini-roller coaster (like the kid-kind) in our own decision to adopt and throughout all of the classes and prep-work during the Home Study. But I feel like we’ve now been officially inaugurated. Or Freshmen-hazed. Or Sorority-Sister pledged or rushed or whatever it is. We’ve officially hopped aboard the adoption roller coaster ride, and I can see that – like most roller coasters – it may be a little crazy at times but also really fun. (For the record, in clarifying this analogy: in real life I’m not a risk-taker or an adrenaline-junkie. I’m an ENORMOUS wuss and I HATE roller coasters. The adoption one may – hopefully – be the last one I ever ride).

On Saturday night, we had dinner at the Olive Garden – ‘cuz, you know, when you’re there, you’re family! I believe we were still studying the menus when it happened. I was suddenly hit with the most overwhelming, physical sensation of KNOWING that I’ve ever experienced. It seriously was such a MOMENT that I kind of dropped the menu and gasped a little bit. I have never EVER had something like this before. Mike glanced at me with concern and questioning.

I kind of shook my head in disbelief and explained, “Wow. I’ve never felt anything like that before. It’s like I suddenly FEEL something with Baby Girl. Like it could happen soon…really soon. I mean, maybe we won’t be getting her THIS week, but I really feel like something could happen. And I feel ready. All of a sudden, I just feel ready.”

This is the best way I can describe it: It’s like that moment for an expectant mother, when you feel your baby kick or hiccup within you for the first time. You KNEW you were pregnant, you KNEW there was a baby growing inside of you, but when you FEEL it, you just really, really KNOW. It’s magical. And this? This was that kind of a moment.

I looked at Mike kind of still frozen and in awe of what just happened. I immediately wanted to reassure myself, to not get my hopes up too much. “I mean, maybe nothing major will happen this week, but I just feel like there will be SOME sort of adoption news.” There really hadn’t been much of anything for quite a while.

Mike slowly nodded his head and said, “I had the exact same feeling two days ago – on Thursday. I just suddenly felt like: it’s gonna happen soon. Or something is, anyway.” He had it too, huh? Hmmmm. Could this be….?

I continued to feel that way for a couple of days, but nothing had happened. And then, I got home from the gym on Tuesday morning and turned on Kara-my-laptop. I knew, I KNEW that there would be an email from our social worker Joy. I’ve never been one to have ‘psychic tendencies’ but I KNEW with 100% certainty that she’d sent an email. I would’ve bet oodles of money on it and woulda cleaned up!

So, I wasn’t surprised at all to see the email from Joy telling us that a baby girl had been born LAST THURSDAY (the same day Mike had the “feeling”) and that most likely the birth family would not be able to parent, so they were working on finding a foster-to-adopt family. (I can’t go into the details but this is one of those possible situations for us – a little bit nutty, where we could potentially find out about “her” and within just a couple of days, bring a baby home. I have this funny image in my head of picking Matthew up from the bus stop after school and SURPRISE! “Matthew, meet your baby sister!!” It’s an awesome picture.)

I tried – I really did – I tried SO hard not to get my hopes up. Because I KNOW that this situation can – and probably will happen – numerous times. A birth mom comes in, knows she’s having a girl, sounds great, we submit our family profile book, we don’t get picked. We DO get picked, we’re matched with a birth mom and within 48 hours after the birth, she changes her mind. Heart breaking. We end up with a foster-to-adopt situation which we THOUGHT had low-to-no legal risks (birth family wouldn’t be reunited) only to find out that some distant relative stepped up to parent. These are all scary, yet very possible situations for us. This is the roller coaster.

What made this so much harder was the FEELING. Mike and I have NEVER EVER felt like it was SO RIGHT. I’m thankful that the feelings of hopeful, eager anticipation only lasted about an hour. (What if it had gone on for days?!) Joy had sent the email at 10am, I’d seen it at noon and by 1pm, we had learned that it was all a no-go. Someone in the birth family HAD stepped up to parent.

I kept telling myself the planned-inner monologue, “It wasn’t meant to be. She wasn’t The One. It’ll happen when God wants it to happen, etc. We wish that baby girl the best and hope that birth family can keep it together…so she doesn’t end up in Foster Care later…It just wasn’t meant to be.” But it was still pretty sucky. Especially because of that darn FEELING. So, what WAS that feeling? Now I just felt kinda foolish. Who are WE to think that after only four months of waiting, we’d get picked and pass up all these families who have potentially been waiting for over a year or more?! Who are WE to just assume that the first “really good”/newborn situation would automatically be ours? Can we be any more full of ourselves?! So, what was WITH THIS STINKIN’ FEELING? Was it just God’s way of helping us feel ready? More ready than we’ve ever felt? But why did I KNOW Joy would send an email? Why did Mike have The FEELING on the exact day that that baby girl was born? How amazing would that have been to be able to tell our adopted daughter years from now, that we KNEW. We KNEW without a question of a doubt that our baby girl had been born, that she’d come into this world and was ours. What if we don’t have that feeling again? What if when we do find “The One” it’s with way less pomp and circumstance? I’ve read about that too, of course, that people adopting expect and assume that they’ll “know” right away, that they will instantaneously feel unconditional feelings of parental love for their adopted child the moment they see them or hold them for the first time…and that doesn’t always happen. Just like postpartum depression, having to do bed rest in the hospital, things don’t always work out as easily and joyfully as you’d want for this most amazing moment.

I had told myself that I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Like everything else in my life – our wedding (spending our wedding night in the ER, Mike being diagnosed with cancer, cancelling our Honeymoon, having to go through Chemo and Radiation as newlyweds), our first born (being told we were having a girl, being mentally prepared for months, KNOWING this little Abigail Madeline inside of me, and then finding out that surprise – and a wonderful one, OF COURSE! – Abigail is actually Matthew), spending the second pregnancy in the hospital, and then worst of all suffering Postpartum Depression…when I feel like I should be the happiest I’m just incapable of feeling that way. Knowing that now, I can’t even remember Zachary’s first year. It’s like an awful dark haze that’s more of a feeling than any sort of clear memory. It’s not fair. The expectations. Am I crazy to have expectations? To hope for the best? Do I need to get to a cynical place where I always just expect and assume the worst? Have I become a bitter human being when OBVIOUSLY my life has been so unbelievably blessed?? I have an incredible marriage to the most-faith-filled, strong man. We have two healthy, wonderful, amazing little boys. We’ve been blessed with financial security. Sure, we feel like affording college for our kids seems like a somewhat unobtainable goal. Sure, we buy a lot of our clothes second-hand or at least always on sale. Sure, it’ll be a while before we pay off our new (used) minivan. But we HAVE those things. So, why do I expect more? Why should I get happiness AND things to go easily and smoothly? Who am I to think that my suffering is worse than others? It’s not a contest…and even if it WAS a contest…I wouldn’t win. There are millions (billions?) who suffer on a daily basis more than I’ve suffered my whole life.

SO (deep breath), we wait. We try not to get our hopes up, but we will. This is part of the adoption process. You can’t guard your heart SO MUCH that you stop caring. You want to be excited. You want to be able to tell your daughter that “we knew.” We knew that you were the one that God wanted us to have. You have been and always will be OURS. And that will happen. It will. But for now we wait. And we ride.