March 23, 2014

Life with the kidlets

Some of the hilarity that comes with four small littles...

***  Sadie came home with a form for 4-H camp.  She handed me the form and said, "I think that I wanna go to this, but I'm just not sure yet."  I glanced at the form and handed it back with the advice, "If you aren't 100% sure than the best thing to do is to sleep on it."  Noah, horrified, exclaimed, "But if you sleep on it it will get all wrinkled up!"  (Thinking I literally meant to sleep on the actually piece of paper)

*** We celebrated Kamron's birthday last week.  Scarlett was so proud of this card she made him.  Most bizarre birthday compliment ever.



*** Noah:  Mom, When I grow up I wanna be a marine biologist.  But if I change my mind I want to own a restaurant.  At my restaurant people are going to be able to watch a play! That would be awesome!  People will love that!
Me:  They have those!  It's called dinner theatre.
Noah:  I gotta get one of those.

***Miles:Mom, I need to go to my friend Christian's house cause he said I could come.

Me: I don't know Christian's mom and dad, so it's not gonna happen. What is his mom's name? Maybe we could call them.

Miles: I don't know. It's probably Megan Terry.

Me: I doubt that's it. Do you know where he lives?

Miles: No, but you just need to take me there.

Me: Well, how will I know where to take you if you don't know where his house is?

Miles: Ugh. I'll just call the bus driver and get him to take me.


*** Scarlett does not understand sarcasm at all which is super unfortunate since it is my primary language.  One day when she was getting exceptionally rowdy I looked her way and I said, "Hey.  You better slow your roll."  I saw her try to work through this. She then moved her body a little slow and robot like and looked so confused.  She said, "But I'm not rolling anything."

*** I took my boys to Toys R Us for the first time in their poor, depraved lives.  They will never be the same.  Minds. Blown.

*** Our kids don't sleep with us.  I'm not sure they even know this is a thing that some other kids do.  The other night, though, Miles came racing down the stairs and jumped right on top of me in bed in the middle of the night.  "I'm scared!  I'm scared!  I'm soooooo scared! I'm just gonna sleep right here."

I asked him why he was scared and he said, "Well, I'm pretty sure I'm getting ready to have a bad dream about a bear."  In my sleepy frame of mind I said, "Wait a minute.  You haven't had that dream yet, you just think you are going to dream about it?"

"Yes!" he said, "I just feel it coming on. I better sleep right here just in case."

*** I think my muscle has gotten bigger since I came to this family because you let me eat more candy. (nice try, honey)

*** Sadie and I were trying to come up with a new book series for her to start.  I said, "You know, I wished you liked the Little House books.  Those were some of my favorites."  "Yeah," she said, "I just can't get into them.  Maybe if they were set in modern times, I'd like them."  Then the point of the books would be???

*** You know you've seen Frozen one too many times when your kid picks up the guinea pig and the first words out of his mouth are "Hey Phil, do you wanna build a snowman?"

March 13, 2014

That One Time We Went To Brazil and I Nearly Had An Identity Crisis

Last month, Kamron and I went to Brazil.  I know.  Crazy.

I almost feel braggy talking about it, but my husband works really hard to earn these trips through his work and well, it would be a crying shame not to go on them...

But that being said, going out of the country at that particular moment brought panic on me like I have never experienced.  Full blown anxiety attacks. We had booked the trip before we even knew about Scarlett and thinking about leaving her for a week after her only being with us for 6 months sent my heart beating right out of my chest.  Really, leaving all the kids for that long was a big deal.  FOUR kids is a lot to ask someone to take care of.  So we felt like we couldn't ask our families to sacrifice that much so we hired our friend and rockstar nanny to take care of the littles while we were away.  My mom dropped us off at the airport and I cried.  I really just didn't feel like it was the right time to go.  I mean, we all LOVE to travel, but we always take the kids with us.  This is new territory.

Nothing like making yourself out to be so important that you can't step out of your life for a week, huh?

But the main thing is that I worried after 15 years of being with Kamron that we would have NOTHING to talk about for a week.  (I confided in my friends about this hoping they would make me lists of topics on sticky notes.  Alas, my friends just kinda laughed at me and said it would be fine.) You know, when you get so used to the chaos of having kids to raise all day every day those moments of connection and actually talking about things that aren't logistics of getting lunches in backpacks and people off to school just don't really have the time to happen.  I was fearful that I'd forgotten how to talk about anything other than the day to day of what our kids were doing.  I had dread in my heart that my husband was going to find me BORING when he actually had to spend a week with me with no kid buffer.

The truth is, I have become boring.  And I LIKE boring.  After a roller coaster of a year and all the challenges that come with adding in older kids, I crave getting in bed at 9 pm and zoning out to reruns of The Big Bang Theory.  And meals in the crock pot.  And predictable schedules.  And making sure all the laundry is put away on Sunday nights.  (I would also add Wheel of Fortune at 7:30 but I'm worried about how grandma I'm making myself sound.)

And Kamron likes to GO GO GO on vacations.  If we are somewhere, he wants to see all the things.  All.  The.  Things.  And video tape all the things for posterity.  For real.  I like to see some of the things and then read all the words in my book.  We are just wired different.

So I got to Rio de Janeiro and decided that I was going to put on my big girl panties and pull out the fun girl that I used to be before the boring and mundane and the four kids and The Big Bang reruns took over.  I almost wondered if she was still in there somewhere or if she'd just disappeared.  It's funny trying to figure out what parts of you still exist when you don't use them very often.  Don't get me wrong- I'm fun and silly with my kids, but that's just a different kind of fun based on fart noises and stuff like that.

Y'all.  I mustered up that fun girl in 5 seconds flat and we had a blast.  We saw ALL THE THINGS and I still READ ALL THE PAGES.  It was like the best of both worlds figuring out who I could be independent of being a mom- cause one day these kids are going to move out and I will still be here!  (This is one of my biggest, deepest, darkest fears- that I won't be able to function or like myself when my kids are gone)  So this little exercise in freedom and fun and not worrying about who was getting to therapy on time was so needed for me.  In fact, it was sooooo needed that I didn't even know I needed it until I was doing it.  You learn a lot about yourself when you actually have time to think.

The trip was made all the more fun because two other couples from our area that work with my husband's firm were there and we all stuck together like glue for the week.  The six of us took over Rio and made memories and mostly ate our way through the whole city.  If you ask Kamron what the best part of the trip was for him he will shout out "The Food!"  Aside from the company, I have to agree.  The food in Brazil was out of this world.  Lots of meat.  For this gluten intolerant gal, I felt fantastic. Kamron felt like a balloon had lodged permanently in his stomach. See?  Wired differently.  And I learned that fun with adults mostly includes fart noises and bathroom talk.  So I wasn't all that behind the curve.

Here's a little rundown of our week.

Ready for takeoff!

The hippy fair in Ipanema Beach

We stayed at the gorgeous Copacabana Hotel on Copacabana Beach.  It's a real place!  Who knew?!

First night dinner with our friends Jordan and Kevin (on the left) and Jim and Sabrina (on the right).  We had so much fun and we laughed so hard that the six of us ate together every meal for the rest of the whole week.  Sabrina is actually from Rio so she knew all the best places to go and most importantly, all the best food to eat.

Visiting the Christ the Redeemer Statue was one of the most moving experiences of my life.  There is a chapel in the base of the statue.  You used to not be able to go in it, but they recently opened it up.  Walking in that chapel felt like Holy Ground.  I couldn't help but weep uncontrollably at the magnitude of Christ in my life and his impact in the world.  It was truly a remarkable thing to experience. 


Lightning did not strike us, nor did we burst into flames.

Check out the reflection in those glasses. 


Move your thumb out of the way, babe.

To get to the top of Corcovado Mountain where the statue is, you have to ride a train.  All these flags were in the lobby of the train station.  I love flags.


Cable car up to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain

From the top of the Sugar Loaf.

See?  A love affair with the video camera.  See how happy she makes him?

Bliss.  I read The Signature of All Things (I wasn't as enamoured with it as everyone else seems to be).  Kamron read The Wolf of Wallstreet.  Cause he doesn't get enough stock broker in his real life.

Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background.

Our six-some.  Random man with tray of wine featured.  We gave him a thumbs up.

The musicians were so fun!

At Porcau Steakhouse.  Kamron's face in this picture makes me want to smother him with kisses.  That much excitement over meat.  Brazillian steakhouse = Awesome.  


Whatever kind of pie this was changed my life.  

Empanadas changed Kamron's life.  Oh my gosh, we still talk about needing empanadas almost daily.

Cheers.


People.  Brazilian men.  Lounge around the pool. Like. This. In. Speedos. #truestory

It was really cool to see some of the places that will hold the Olympic games in 2016.  All I gotta say is that Rio better get on it because we are only 2 years away and our tour guide kept saying "This is going to be where they build the pool" and you would be looking at slums and concrete ruins.  However, the marathon will be ending in the stadiums where they hold Carnival, which will be amazing to watch. 

We went dancing.  Late at night.  Past when the Big Bang Theory would have been on at home.  

See us in the coral dress and the white shirt dancing right in front of the stage?  Party on party people. 

Since we were in Rio right before Carnival, all of the Samba schools were perfecting their routines before the big competition.  We got to see the routine.  I was fascinated by the costumes.  How gorgeous is this?

And someone else was fascinated by these costumes.  Do you see how Kamron is holding up his finger symbolizing "BEST DAY EVER!"?  Bless it.

Truly, he was positively giddy.  Prancing would be the word I would use to describe it :-)  
Love that boy.



All us gals on our final night.  

Our last night in Rio happened to be Valentine's Day.  I think this is the first V-day date we've gone on since the birth of our first kiddo.  I wore lip gloss instead of chap stick because it was uber special.

Like Ellen's selfie at the Oscars.  Only no Ellen.  And no celebrities.  And Jordan is choking herself for some reason.  Whatever.

Are you sick hearing about the food?  Churros.  Hot and fresh and filled with caramel.  I die.

Kamron did not realize that his collar was popped over his jacket.  We never told him and kinda made jokes about it behind his back all night.  Keeping things classy and 1980's-ish.

Christ the Redeemer at sunset.

This was so good for us.  We have made time for TWO dates since we got back.  For the love.  Prior to that, we hadn't been on a date since Scarlett came home.  It just makes us better.  PLUS, we got to come home to this airport welcome wagon and all was right with the world. 


February 12, 2014

Sitting In The Present

*this post is sponsored by the ad council.  All opinions are my own. 

In the days of Pinterest, us moms have this notion that we have got to have our stuff together.  We need to pack stuff like hummus in our kindergartners lunch boxes in recyclable containers and modge podge personalized crafts to put in the lunch box so that our kids know we love them... You know what?  PB&J works just as well.  But, let's face it, PB&J is not Pinterest worthy.

Here's the thing, though.  Pinterest (or any other social media) is NOT real life.  It's the made up life that we conjure when we have too much time on our hands (really, does anyone have too much time on their hands these days?)

I think that this notion of perfection scares most would be adoptive parents just as fast as anything.  We have bought in to this lie that in order to parent kids who have been through trauma and loss and who might not speak our language or who might have special needs or who might be older than tiny infants, that we have to be perfect.  That somehow we must carry these necessary special skills in our guts and goodness and perfection must radiate out of our pores.  I am just as guilty as anyone as buying in to the lie.

For me, the perfection lie crept into my brain with our first foster placement last summer.  I was determined that I was going to show this girl what being in a functional family felt like.  However, in trying to make life so perfect for her, we did her a massive disservice.  I set the bar so high that it was not sustainable.  It's like doing the Atkins diet.  At first, you are killing it.  Who needs carbs?  And then a few weeks or months in you get to the point that you'd actually kill someone for a potato and a roll.  My first foster care journey was very much like that.  I played June Cleaver to the tune that I should have won and Oscar. But about 6 weeks into it, I could not sustain the facade.  I crashed and burned miserably because as humans, we are not meant to fire on all cylinders all the time.

Not to mention, that when this child went back home, she would not be going back into a home where people were perfect.  In many ways, spinning my wheels so hard and so fast toward to make our home Camelot, was probably the very worst thing I could have done for her.  You guys, this is so hard.  This is especially hard when you have social workers in and out of your house every single week judging you and checking in on you.  I lived in fear that someone would take away my parent card if they knew that in my real state of parenting that we eat fast food at least three times a week and sometimes I just don't make my kids do their homework because I want them to play outside longer and sometimes I declare bedtime to be an hour early because I am cooked!

For me, this whole perfection lie was something that only came with fostering and adopting.  I didn't feel that kind of monumental pressure with the children that I gave birth to.  But something about being entrusted with someone else's child kicked me into high gear and I believed all the lies that my brain told me about needing to be 100% awesome every minute of the day to make up for lost time.  If you hear nothing else- hear this.  YOU CAN NOT MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME.  IT IS IN THE PAST.  IT IS OUR CHILDREN'S PAST AND WE JUST NEED TO LEARN HOW TO SIT WITH IT.

But here's the kicker.  In life we get so many opportunities to do it over.  When Scarlett joined our family over 6 months ago, I vowed that I would not do what I had done with out foster daughter.  I vowed that I would take on her hurts and just BE with her.  I couldn't parent the hurt out of her. I couldn't parent that ugly parts of her past out of her.  I couldn't parent the fear out of her.  What I could do is just sit with her.  I could listen.  In listening, I learned that the very best thing I could do for my child is just to be present with her and help her feel what she needs to feel to try to make sense of things.  She didn't expect me to fix them (which is hard for me because I'm a fixer).  She just wanted acknowledgement.  She just wanted to hear, "I'm sorry that happened to you."  And then she'd just want me near.  And that?  That takes no skills.  No perfection.  It just takes patience and love and a willingness to wear someone's hurt like a blanket so they know they are not alone.  Eventually, I'm finding that that blanket gets less and less heavy as we all learn to carry it together.


It's not a clean house, or homemade dinners, or being able to talk through every single interaction you have with your child.  It's just being present.  In such a distracted society, being present is difficult, but not impossible.  I find that we make so much progress in our house when I can just be still and be present and just listen. (This is still a massively hard skill for me.)  Our kids from difficult pasts just want to be heard.  They want to know that their voice matters.

I think back across the generations of my family.  I think back to having a teen mom myself.  I think that as an adult, I look at my mom and realized that she did the best that she could.  Really, that's all that I want for my kids- to look back and see that I did the best that I could.  Not the best.  But the best that I could.  Because really, sometimes the best that we can do is just mediocre and that's okay.  I screw this whole parenting thing up daily and yet somehow my kids are still madly in love with me.  (Truly, I can't figure it out.  It must be all the therapy.  Whatever.)  It's life's most awesome, wonderful, amazing mystery.

If the notion of needing to be perfect is holding you back from really considering adoption, then truly examine yourself.   Broken vases don't need a complete remodel and refiring, sometimes they just need superglue.  Just like kids with hurts don't need perfect parents.  They just need willing ones who are ready to meet them where they are. Yes, it's difficult.  Yes, there are days when you don't want to do the hard stuff.  Yes, there are days when the tasks at hand and the therapy appointments seem overwhelming. (Remember how I once said if I ever wrote a book I'd title it 'The first year of adoption is going to suck and first grade homework will make me an alcoholic?)  It's real life and real life is messy.  But there is so much beauty in the messy.  Messy is where the growth is.

My favorite times with my newest daughter are the ones where we are just sitting on the couch and she tells me stories.  Being trusted with those stories from her past are such an honor.  The key is being present- the other stuff is just fluff.  Meeting her right where she is (not where she was six months ago or where I hope to be with her a year from now) is all she wants.  It doesn't take perfection to sit in the present.  




Right now, AdoptUSKids is running a campaign called "You don't need to be perfect to be the perfect parent."  There are currently 102,000 children available for adoption who are looking for imperfect people to be their perfect parents.  For more information, visit www.adoptuskids.org.


This post is sponsored by AdoptUsKids.

February 01, 2014

Catching Up

We've been up to an insane amount of "stuff" these last few months.  Not to mention that we got in some serious bonding time (AKA too much togetherness) during Snowpacolypse 2014.  There were a few times when I got the call about school being called off...again... and a little tear would trickle down my face.  Once I may have thought about dropping them off at school anyway just to see what would happen.  Luckily, we all survived.  But the pictorial rundown of the last few months of pictures are pretty much only taken in pajamas.  One day I put on jeans and the kids said, "Oh my gosh!  What's happening today!?!?!" because we really did go that many days in our pajamas.

Here's a little rundown of all the things we've been doing since the great blog hiatus.

Some of our favorite little Haitian Missionary kids came to visit.  My kids have soooo missed their friends while they were out of the country.

Y'all, I get this look constantly.  I think it is the precursor to the eye roll.  It's a good thing it's not the full on eye roll because those throw me in to a full on rage.  Seriously, redrum.

 Holiday cooking- my mom and Granny

Sadie got glasses.  Now, if she could just loose some teeth so she could get braces her life would be complete.

The bond these two have is crazy.  They have their own language (they speak in these weird squeals and grunts) and roll around on the floor together doing NOTHING for hours.  I'm really not sure how Miles ever functioned without her.

We really didn't do so hot with our Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness. Between the snow and illnesses, we only completed 5 or 6 days.  This is Noah and my Mamaw making Christmas cards for shut-ins.

My father-in-law got married in Florida and we had a little airport honeymoon homecoming party.

 Love.


We had a lot of dance parties in front of the Christmas tree.  The reason for this is that when the children started to get out of control, I would crank up the music and make them dance it out.  We had approximately 300 of these a day.  Snow days + Christmas Break = disaster.

These two were in the school first grade play together.  Noah busted out a rap about a Christmas tree that would make Snoop Dog proud.  I asked them to pose for a picture together and they acted like it might kill them.  Oil and water, folks.  But they do make a nice picture :-)

This is the slacker moms rendition of a "bird" costume.  She loved it so all was good.  Sometimes Scarlett's beauty just takes my breath away.

Noah went a little crazy with the boa after the play.  

Christmas Kindness.  Miles jumped out in front of people on their way out of the grocery store and spread out his arms wide and said, "Merry Christmas everyone!" Then busted out whatever carol came to mind.  And people opened up their wallets and gave the boy $20 bills like their lives depended on it.  I can guarantee that he single handly raised more money for the salvation army in one hour than that bucket normally made in a day.  

Kamron has one job at Christmas- make the sausage balls.   This year he had helpers.

Pure cuteness.  (And for the record, this NEVER happens, thus making it photo worthy)

Christmas Eve after the kids went to sleep.

New playdoh in their stocking made for hours of fun.  And I'm ever so thankful there is no carpet in our new house!

Noah just can't get enough reading.  Reading clicked for him this year and he is hooked.

The kids got gift cards to paint their own pottery and had so much fun making creations.

We played 15 million games of checkers and Trouble over the break.  I lost 97% of the time.



We hosted all the Terry side of the family for Christmas.  It was a blast with all the guitars and karaoke.  This was during the Johnny Cash jam session.




The puppet master.



Kamron grew up next door to this wonderful lady.  He started cutting her grass when he was a pre-teen.  When we were first married, she would let us come over and work in her yard for extra money when we were flat broke.  We had her over for a day and fed her Oreo cookies, which she said she hadn't had in decades.  It was a great day.

We celebrated Papaw Johnny's birthday.

I got my hair colored super dark.  I left it that way for about a month until I got tired of feeling like a goth, brooding vampire.  Highlights back in.  I always think I want dark hair and get a little dissapointed when it doesn't magically make me look like Princess Kate or Courtney Cox.  Whatevs.

 I went on my annual girls weekend with my besties.  Can't even begin to describe how much these girls mean to me.  I always come home feeling refreshed and normal and sore from laughing so much. 

We totally get matching shirts every year because we are just that silly.

Sadie and Phil.

BFFs.

My favorite tree decked out in all it's snow glory.

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