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Friday, January 28, 2011

It’s official!! Today we finalized Kayliana’s adoption. She is ‘officially’ a part of our family!

What’s funny is I really didn’t think it would feel any different. We’ve known since December 22nd (when birth dad’s rights were officially terminated) that she was ours to adopt and that no one could get in the way of that. And since day one, when she was placed in my arms by her extraordinary birth mom (at two days old, Nov. 17th), she felt like ours. I never once questioned it. But I still experienced a major sigh of relief today. There was a cathartic release (especially joy-filled tears once we were home afterwards and now as I write this). It’s like I’ve been holding my breath for the last year and a half without even realizing it. (That’s how long it’s been since we started the adoption process, and 13 months since we entered the Child Search phase).

All along I knew this day would come. I never doubted that we would have the perfect little girl come into our family, but it still stinkin’ blows my mind just how beautifully everything worked out. (Yes, it was stressful at times, but all things considered, it went amazingly well). Even if you’re not one of those God-believing types or a fan of the whole fate-destiny thang, I think it would be impossible to go through the adoption process without faith. We’ve received two cards – darn those Hallmark people for totally ‘getting’ it – that so perfectly sum up the process.

One simply says, “Isn’t it amazing? There are millions of babies in the world, but you got the one that fit perfectly into your loving arms.”

And the other says, “Your Beautiful Daughter Is Here: Nothing on earth could’ve stopped you – not the mountains of paperwork, not the home studies, not the wondering where you’d find the money, not even the waiting and waiting. You’ve chosen this journey will all its joys and fears – because you were meant to become a family.”

Today, in the courtroom, the Commissioner asked us why we came to the decision to adopt. Those that know me would be extremely proud that my answer actually stayed under a minute. (I do have the three hour version, if you’re interested). Then he said his whole, “By the power invested in me by the state of Washington it is my immense honor to declare Michael & Jennifer…blahblahblah…the legal guardians to Kayliana…blahblahblah.” And then that jolly fellow (he did remind me of Santa a wee bit and he certainly made our dreams come true), grinned from ear to ear and said, “I can tell the amount of love in your family already and it is such a privilege and an honor to do this for you. She is not only a blessing to you, but you are equally a blessing to her.” (Dang it! As if I wasn’t tearing up already).

The kids were all so good. The boys were fascinated by the courthouse, security check-point (I even got wand-checked to their utter glee) and an ambulance pulled up on the street down below which was, of course, quite distracting. Matthew had wanted to wear his police uniform but we explained that impersonating an officer is a serious crime. He grudgingly agreed to wear his nice “church clothes.” They did get sheriff badge stickers though! Kayliana was a perfect baby for her big day too. She was awake the whole time (slightly bored at times as you see in her yawn-photo) and smiley and coo-ey. The first thing she did as a member of our family was show biggest brother Matthew who’s boss (by punching him in the face in one of the photos with the Commissioner). I have a feeling this little girl will keep us on our toes for sure!

Our home is full and our hearts are full. Our family is complete. We are so blessed with our children: Matthew, Zachary and…Kayliana!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We presented on an Engaged Encounter retreat this past weekend – Kayliana’s first! The boys went to my parents’ for the weekend and – sorry, guys – but based on their behavior lately I was definitely ready for a little break! I was worried about a wEEkend with an eight-week old. We always brought the boys when they were babies (up to age one) but never when they were that young. And, not that Kayliana’s colicky or really even THAT fussy, but she’s had her more vocal moments (especially if she’s constipated). Thankfully, as always seems to happen, we had a perfectly-behaved baby for the engaged couples to see. Seriously, she could not have been any better or any cuter. Like, it was a little crazy how angelic she was – all smiles and coo’s; just working the crowd. I think that God must sprinkle these babies with a little angel dust (or God-power or Heavenly-bribery that only babies know about) or SOMETHING that entices this flawless baby-behavior. All I know is she worked like propaganda for the Church inspiring all those couples to go forth, marry and multiply. They’re all convinced after a weekend with her that their babies will surely be as good and cute (ha! Good luck with that. Like it’s even possible!). And I think that we may have even inspired a few to consider adoption as well! Anyway, I am not even kidding you that literally as the last couple walked out the door at 3pm, Kayliana began crying…for the FIRST TIME ALL WEEKEND. She held it together, bottled it up, kept it in and then finally just let loose…and hasn’t stopped a whole lot since. (No, just kidding, she has, but ever since Sunday afternoon she has just been a little fussier than usual).

The boys had a great weekend with my parents – thank you! And Zachary even had big news for us in the car on the way home.

I don’t remember if I’ve written about this, but Zach’s had a bad attitude about something he’s supposed to do in gymnastics. Skipping. During their warm-ups, they run across the gym, bear-crawl across the gym, crab-walk across the gym and, yes, skip across the gym. As soon as Coach yells, “Skip!” all joy drops from Zachary’s face and he shoves his hands in the pockets of his gym shorts and sorta bad-attitude gallops-walks-saunters across the floor. Every week, Coach has tried to show him how to skip. Every week I’ve addressed this skipping predicament with him.

His response: “I just don’t like skipping. I’m just not used to it.” So, I’d explain that he’d never get ‘used’ to it if he refused to learn and practice. Mike, Matthew and I had all, at different times, tried to provide him some skipping-tutoring. However, he stubbornly refused to learn or try.

My parents had heard about this anti-skipping philosophy and had also tried to intervene. To no avail. And then this past weekend, my dad finally broke through. Tired of hearing that he had an anti-skipping grandson, dad basically told Zach that he needed to ‘man up and learn to skip like a man.’

Using the garage as the skipping studio, dad gradually broke through the tough walls of the skip-hater teaching him skipping-skills and skipping-acceptance. Under dad’s careful tutelage, Zachary’s heart-softened to the world of skipping. (Although, dad later admitted to me, that he had thought about taking Zach up to the park…but, uh, thankfully the weather was bad, so they HAD to stay in the privacy of the garage for this manly skipping-lesson. Phew!).

So, after the weekend, in the car on the way home, Zachary casually announced, “D-dad taught me how to skip.” I tried to play it smooth, I really did, but when your child announces such miraculous news, it’s hard.

“REALLY?!” OK, keep it cool. I took a deep breath. “Yeah, D-dad’s a pretty good skipper. He’s got some impressive skipping-skills,” I said, attempting nonchalance.

Trying to still act cooler-than-skipping, Zach shrugged. “Yeah. He’s pretty good.”

At gymnastics on Monday, I leaned over the railing of the viewing-balcony with baited breath. When Coach yelled, “SKIP!” I watched with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes [actually, I have a cold and my eyes are just watery…no really, I swear…or there was some dust in the gym…or I was cutting an onion] as – for the first time ever – my little boy skipped across that gym floor like a MAN. Coach noticed and congratulated him and I – yes, I was THAT parent – started yelling and cheering for my son. I’ll never forget where we were when I saw my son take his first skips.

After gymnastics, in the car, I – with nervous excitement – asked Zachary, “So, do you like skipping now?”

Acting indifferent, Zach looked at the window, gazing off into the distance, he said, “Mmm, I’m still not used to skipping…but it’s OK.”

I am relieved that our family no longer has to live in shame. The pretense was weighing on me. Knowing that you have a skip-hater in your house is a heaving burden to carry. I was in denial that it had become such a problem, really. But now, I can walk with my head held high again, knowing that ALL members of our family tolerate – neigh even LOVE – and accept skipping. My son skips like a man and I’m ready to shout it from the rooftops!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Every once in a while, there is a rare moment of quiet. This happened in the car the other day. It lasted a while and then I started to ask Zachary a question. I was very abruptly SHUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDD!!!! complete with extra spit for effect.

“Mom,” Zach said, “You interrupted me. I’m watching my movie show-er.” (You know the one. It plays movies in your mind). Apparently it was an engrossing flic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kayliana was such an overachiever at her two month check-up today! What a little show-off! She was nothing but smiles and coo’s for Dr. Benda and even rolled over for the first time (on her own) during some tummy time on the table. (No worries – we were both standing right there – it’s not like you just put a baby on an exam table and walk away…at least I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I’ve never dropped a baby or had a roll-off happen…that I can think of…). Dr. Benda questioned my math and whether or not Kayliana is actually four months old and not two! The way she interacted with Zachary and responded with coo’s and smiles to Dr. Benda and held herself up and did calculus and solved that whole Ozone-RainForest–SeaLife issue. Oh and then there was that Aria that she busted out. Right. Anyway, she was impressive…for a boring, ‘ol (perfect) two month old. And she’s an eating-sleeping-growing champ (as we know). She’s in the 90-95th percentile for weight, weighing in at a ladylike 12 pounds 10 ounces. She measures in the 50-75th percentile for both height (22 ¼ inches) and head circumference (15 ¼ -- for those of you taking notes. There WILL be a test). She has officially moved out of 0-3 month size clothes and into 3-6 months. She’s growing up too fast already! At this rate, we’ll likely be picking out a prom dress next year.

While Kayliana was a bubbly little happy-hoot at her appointment this morning, on Saturday she was a snoozing angel and missed her own party! We had the loveliest Saturday: many dear friends and my mama showered Kayliana (and me) in love and adorable clothes (more for her than me, though I did get some nice gym socks – thanks Mom)! Rebecca hosted and was so the hostess with the mostess – rocking her cute pregnant belly and martini-themed apron while mixing up Bellini’s at the Bellini bar (yes, it was THAT kind of baby shower – woohoo)! And check out that spread! It was such a good time. I seriously don’t know how Kayli will manage to fit in all the cute outfits that we got, but rest assured: we’ll have as many outfit changes as necessary!

The very last present I opened was from my dear friend Julia’s dear mom. (Dears, lots of dears). I thought that I’d pulled all the goodies out of the bag when I saw there was one last tissue-wrapped item on the bottom. How could anything possibly follow the leg warms and silver sparkly shoes?! I opened up the tissue to discover a most gorgeous quilt – this is wonderful in itself – but then, oh then, I glance at the back of the quilt and see Kayliana’s birth announcement. There was no warning. Wazzammeeee! No time to prepare a composed, polite tearing-up; a gentle watering of the eyes. No, this was a sudden onslaught of ugly-cry snottiness. (And darn you, Julia, for catching it on camera!) I was so touched! And for the record, I had the same reaction to the quilt for Matthew made by my aunt Jackie. On the back of his there was a little stitched/monogrammed note saying “to Matthew who surprised us all…” that back-of-quilt brought on an equal amount of floody-emotion. Apparently I’m a sucker for beautifully made quilts. And specifically, I’m a sucker for quilts with touching notes or images on the back. And I’m most specifically a sucker for my kids.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ahhh, boys….

Matthew and Zachary have a new argument, as of late: Who got to see more of Kayliana’s smiles that day. They also apply this heated debate to coo-hearing as well. Thankfully, everyday, Kayli is cooing and smiling a little more, so they’re starting to lose track and the ongoing discussion may quickly fizzle out. She tends to be a rather equal-opportunity smiler anyway.

* * *

Matthew announced that he was going to build Zachary a Lego surprise in their bedroom and, until it was complete, Zach was not allowed in. Well, unfortunately, I did not know that this was going on, and I sent Zach in to tell Matthew that dinner was ready. Zach quickly jumped at the chance to sneak a peek at the under-construction Lego masterpiece. It was evident that a major issue was underway when shouts and yells ricocheted off the walls of their room.


“WELL, BUT…” Sputtered Zach, “’Cuz LOOKING is why God gave us eyes. HELLO.” Then upon exiting the room, Zach mumbled, “We need some blindfolds around here.”

* * *

I am “homeschooling” Zachary for his pre-K this year. I put “homeschooling” in quotes because I don’t really feel like what I do with him should accurately be called “homeschooling.” We don’t follow a program, a curriculum, an agenda or schedule. We sit down a few mornings a week and practice writing, reading, numbers or math. Most of the time, I’m a stellar mom and trust that he’s learning enough through the occasional PBS shows that he watches each week. (Science – from Sid the Science Kid; Nature – from the Wild Kratts; how to get into mischief – Curious George; basic reading – from WordWorld and Super Why; Jurassic history – Dinosaur Train; and the letter of the week, how to count in a wacky voice followed by an evil laugh and how to act like a cute monster – from Sesame Street). For the record, he does not watch each of these shows ever day, this is just a sampling. He doesn’t even watch TV every day. (My defensive internal “homeschooling” mom, just needs to clarify this point, though I will shout unto the hill tops that PBS kids-programming is AMAZING and I’m a HUGE fan). I will thoroughly admit that it’s from these shows that he’s randomly said things like, “Mom, do you know what ominous means?” And “My hypothesis is that it’s going to rain.” And “Did you know there’s such a thing as flying squirrels? But they don’t really FLY, they GLIDE.”

Anyway, Zach and I were ACTUALLY sitting down and doing some reading practice (I know, I am SUCH an overachieving mom) – sounding out words with the help of our ABC magnet set. First we did words ending with “at.” You know, put the C in front, then take turns using H, M, S, F, etc. to see what word you make. Then we did “am.” And then, oh then, we did words ending in “um.” I saved the B for last. And he thought “TUM” was funny! The second he sounded out “BUM,” and realized what word he had just read he started laughing hysterically. It was pretty much the funniest thing ever. He couldn’t wait to show Matthew when he got home from school (who also found it equally amusing that it said “BUM” on the dining room table). The fact that mommy would put out a “body talk” word for him was just SO amazingly great. (“Body talk” is not generally allowed as it goes with the boys’ natural tendency to partake and enjoy in frequent – and taboo – “potty talk.” We try to discourage this kind of thing, although when you live with the Fartin Martins, this can be difficult).

I can’t wait for the words that end in “ut.” Man, will Zach ever be thrilled when I bring out the letter B again!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For those not on facebook and seeing this there...we're famous! And ironically, we're the "face" of the PTSA breakfast and we can't even attend this year. Doh! It's tough work being local celebrities, let me tell you. People recognized us at the bus stop...granted those people already knew us, but still!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

(The current state of affairs: It takes me four days to write a lame ‘lil blog entry. I know that someday I will have – some – time again). Happy New Year! While I know 2011 is sure to be an awesometastic and wonderific year, I am slightly disappointed that it didn’t roll on in with new and improved days – like longer ones that have more hours but not as much sleep necessary, then maybe I could get everything done that I’d like to! I’ve had about a million blog-thoughts in my head for the last week bouncing off the dusty walls, but have just not had the time or energy to put ‘em here. So, this will be a standard random-thought post.

• Kayliana – now at 8 weeks old – is a smiling, cooing champ. We have yet to capture a REALLY big smile on camera though and we’ve exhausted ourselves talking in the highest voices possible, making ridiculous sounds, practically dancing on our heads trying to get one on film. We did a fun photo shoot over the weekend and got some really cute (really close to full-smile, but not quite) photos.
• New Years was so super fun. Our best friends – Jason, Rebecca and their two boys Joshua (5), Noah (3) and baby bun in the oven (either Kayli’s best friend or future husband), along with Jason’s daughter Adrienne (13) – moved in for our annual holiday staycation called “Camp Christmas.” We played games, stayed in pajamas all day, ate delicious food, drank delicious drinks, exchanged gifts, and stayed up late (thankfully, Kayli’s been sorta sleeping through the night, so that was extremely helpful and wonderful!). It’s possible that the highlight of the weekend was watching the four boys play a very intense and focused game of hide-and-seek. Three-year-old Noah would count in the living room with eyes covered and then practically look directly under the chair HE was sitting in for a hiding boy. Zachary was a very dedicated hider and remained hidden for long minutes at a time even suffering an injury for the cause. (He’d folded himself up like a pretzel under a dining room chair and had his stomach wedged up against the chair bar. He occasionally rubbed his paine- side for two days).

While some people find it hard to believe that we could spend 2.5 days nonstop with “friends,” just “cooped up” in our house, I must say that our vacations/staycations with the “Clan” are never long enough. We don’t have a lot of family here and no kiddo-cousins for our kiddos, so the Clan and our “clousins” are as close to extended family as we could possibly get. We’re so blessed to have such great friends!

• Zachary has had some great expressions and comments lately. The other day we had friends stopping by for our playdate. I’d told him in the morning that we’d have visitors later and then told him who it was (my neighbor/friend Megan with her two kids), and he jumped up and down and said, “Oh! So it’s Nick & Kate who are our first customers today!”

Yesterday, out of the blue in the car he said, “How come I’m such a good big brother? I’ve never even done it before or practiced and I’m GREAT at it!”

He also came into the kitchen one day last week and throwing his arms open exclaimed, “Mom! I’m gonna knock your socks off!” When I asked him what he meant he looked at me like I had three heads and said, “Helloooo. It’s an expression,” and then left the room exasperated.

• The week after Christmas, we had our first visit with Kayliana’s birth mom Mia. We will see her approximately four times a year (kind of like once a season with one visit happening around Kayli’s birthday-Christmas). We’d kind of thought that this first visit wouldn’t happen this year – that it’d be too soon and that Mia wouldn’t be ready – but early in December she’d asked to at least put something on the calendar at which point I kinda freaked out feeling like I wasn’t ready! (I was just surprised that she was ready since I really hadn’t expected to do it so soon). But once I mentally prepared, I was pretty excited to see her (as were the boys)! We decided – since she will be a part of our lives – to have her come to the house, that way she can see us all in our “natural habitat.” (Plus, it just seemed weird to do this intense of a visit/moment at a public place like a mall or something).

Mia and her wonderful boyfriend Austin (not the birthfather – he’s out of the picture) arrived on Thursday afternoon baring gifts for all the kiddos. They had PERFECT presents for the boys (a police Lego-type set, a paint-your-own Toy Story statues kit and two little foam-disk shooting guns). The boys were thrilled. Kayli got a super cuddly stuffed giraffe and little outfit (I’m sure she’s thrilled too). Mia seemed to be doing so well and couldn’t get over how big Kayli’s gotten in just seven weeks. I really could go on and on about how lucky we are to have been blessed with – not only the perfect baby for us – but the perfect birth mom as well. Things are pretty dang great, and we’re scheduled to appear in court to finalize the adoption on January 28th!! Woohoo!

Now, if I could just have more time in the day and/ or more assistance – namely in the form of a maid, chef, poolboy (again, for the sole purpose of keeping the umbrella drinks a-comin’) and masseuse, then life would be truly perfect. Woe-is me for now I’ll just HAVE to resign myself to near perfection.