April 30, 2011

A sporty kind of day

Today was a big day for sports in our house!  Noah had his first ever soccer game.  I'll just say that there are very few things in life cuter than a whole bunch of 3 and 4 year olds running haphazardly after a ball.  We started the day at the soccer field with a little boy who was SO excited to be in his soccer shirt at his first game!

Noah in maroon getting a good kick in! 

Noah's cheering section!

Soccer is super fun when one of your besties is on the other team!

Then it was Sadie's turn to shine!  Today was the day she's been working hard for since January- the test to become a yellow belt in tae kwon do.   The girl strutted her stuff on the mat today! 


All smiles!

 She earned the yellow belt! Woo Hoo!

 I'm so proud of my stars today!  But I think this is the thing that I am most proud of.  As part of earning the yellow belt Sadie had to write an essay about what tae kwon do has taught her.  This is what she came up with:


Do you see that part about how "it helps me not be nervous" and "gives me confidence"? 
That is priceless!  This has been so good for her. 


And this little guy?


He was a first class wild man cheerleader for his brother and sister today.

Now- is it bed time yet?  I'm whooped!

April 26, 2011

The Cost of the Royal Wedding... What if?

Every time I've turned on the television or opened a news website for the last two months, news of the royal wedding is at the forefront. Yes- I'm eager to see a picture of the princess in her wedding gown- but the numbers I'm seeing associated with the cost of this wedding break my heart every time I hear them mentioned. Some media outlets are estimating that the total cost of the royal wedding will fall somewhere between 40 and 50 million dollars. Add on top of that the burden to British taxpayers for security and lost productivity for declaring the wedding day a national holiday and the numbers get into the BILLIONS of dollars.
I can't help but wonder... WHAT IF...

What if...instead of a $434,000 dress...

Every one of the 88 abandoned and severely special needs children at Sarah's Covenant Home in India got the life saving surgeries and therapies that they needed.

What would that look like?


WHAT IF... instead of spending $800,000 on the royal flowers...


... 320 houses were built for families displaced by the earthquake in Haiti.

What would that look like?


WHAT IF... instead of the $80,000 cake ordered for the wedding...


...the financial burden was removed to bring 4 children home to eager and loving families...
What would that look like?


WHAT IF... the $65,000 that will be used just to clean the streets for the royal wedding procession...

...was used instead to clean up these streets in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. 
 What would that look like?


WHAT IF... instead of a $600,000 luncheon hosted by Prince Charles...


...The remaining 144 un-sponsored children at Yezelalem Minch (Ethiopia) were sponsored for the next 12 years- or until most of them are adults- providing them with an education, nutrition and a safe place to grow up.

What would that look like?


The point is- there are choices that we all make, myself included.  The choices aren't always easy.  The world tells us that we need bigger and better things and that we should find our self worth based on the amount of "stuff" that we can amass.  The amount that we deal with on a daily basis may not equal the millions spent on the royal wedding, but the decision is the same: continue our lives of comfort, or make sacrifices to support the least of these.  

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. -E. B. White

May the plan for your day (and my day) include improving the world- even if it is only in a small way.  I guarantee that there is more enjoyment in that than anything else in the world!

April 25, 2011

This and That

* I need a weekend to recover from my weekend!  Birthday celebrations were in full swing on Friday and the fam took me out for dinner at a hibachi grill.  My kids think that hibachi grills are about the best thing to ever happen to rice and chicken. I wholeheartedly agree.  Onion volcanoes get me every time.  Then it was cake and ice cream at a local bakery and then rolling home with bellies near the popping stage. 

* I was gluttonous on my birthday.  My mom took care of my boys during the day and I got a massage.  And I didn't feel one bit guilty about it.  It was blissful.  Then I got my eyebrows waxed- not so blissful.

* After trying to make the children forget about the dying of the Easter eggs for a whole week, I finally caved and said that we could do it on Saturday morning.  I'll admit that I had to type "How to boil and egg" into google.  Beyond sticking it in water, I had no idea how long it was supposed to sit in the water.  Remember- I don't eat eggs that can't have the squiggly thing pulled out of them.  We now have a whole container of hard boiled eggs that look like this...


...because mama can't stand the smell of vinegar we don't keep it around and I forgot that it is a necessity for dying eggs.  I went to three convenience stores looking for vinegar before I just gave up and told the kids that our eggs were remaining purists. So we struck out.  BOO! #parentingfail

* Instead, we hunted eggs of the plastic variety with the cousins after church. (Inside- because we've had 300 feet of rain in the last week!)  The kids had a ball!



* In case you are wondering, when you run out of vegetable oil while making brownies, do NOT text someone to tell them and especially don't try to shorten vegetable oil to veg oil.  The resulting text will autocorrect to tell your friend that you are out of vag oil.  Which- believe me -is NOT a good thing to be out of!  Also on the autocorrect front, why does typing "awwwww" always change to "sewer".  What about awwwww makes my phone think, " I know she typed awwww but she probably really meant sewer.  Let's change it for her."

* My kids have gotten really into playing Mario brothers lately.  Lucky for them I spent hours as a kid blowing on my nintendo cartridges and playing Mario.  I still have my touch and the children think that I am the bomb dot com for being able to defeat the dragon.  I love that stage where they are still young enough to think that mom knows everything.  Wonder how much longer I have til that jig is up?

* Miles came up with this dance that makes him scream "hot dog" the whole time he's doing it. He has taught the others to hot dog as well.  Today I leave you with the hot dog.  Lucky you.


April 22, 2011

Thoughts at Thirty

*deep breath*  holycowimturningthirtytoday.  There.  I said it.  I'm officially thirty. Today.  For months and months I've been really looking forward to entering into my thirties.  I have some grand plans for my thirties.  And then Monday happened and oh. my. word. I woke up freaking the freak out.  THIRTY.  I get it- thirty is young.  I suppose in a way, I've felt like I was thirty for a long time.  I think it's because I've always heard that having three kids before you are thirty makes you trailer park trash and if I admitted that I was only 28 when we got our third kiddo that would put me in the ranks with Kid Rock et. al.

But when Monday rolled around and all of a sudden it was my birthday week- thirty smacked me in the face and I panicked.  I got into the HOLY SH!T it's really here mindset.  I lost my sanity.  Here is what my brain said to me:

- I haven't accomplished anything!
- I don't know what I want to be when I grow up!
- I don't have my act together!
- I haven't built an orphanage yet!
- My kid isn't healed yet!
- You didn't lose the weight again yet!
- I haven't shared Jesus with some people that I want to share Jesus with!
- I haven't convinced my husband to adopt a fourth child!
- I haven't learned French!
- I haven't started an orphan care ministry at my church!
- I haven't gone back to Africa to love on the children there.
- On and on and on and on

Y'all, it was heavy.  I thought about eating a whole chocolate pie.  Had there been said chocolate pie around, I probably would have downed it.  Instead, I ate the fun dip I bought for my kid's Easter baskets and called a good friend and griped a whole lot about it.  She said, "Ummm, Megan.  Who do you expect yourself to be?  Katie in Uganda?" (if you don't know who this is- she's about the most amazing 20 something living in Uganda raising a zillion adopted daughters all on her own and ministering to the people there one changed heart at a time)

I thought about that question for a millisecond and then said, "Yes.  I want to be Katie in Uganda."  Actually, I want to go be Megan in Congo. I could list the excuses here one by one why I can't go and be Katie in Uganda or Megan in Congo, but they would just be that- excuses.  But one thing I can do for now is be Megan in Kentucky talking about Congo. Cause I'm ONLY 30!  I ain't dead yet.  There is still time for all the other things.

So today, on my thirtieth birthday, I'm going to tell my story of "Why Congo".

If you go back to 2008- I couldn't have found the Democratic Republic of Congo on a map.  I *may* have had a fleeting thought that it was in South America instead of Africa. (Geography is NOT my strong suit)  I knew that I wanted to adopt and all I had done for a year was bury myself in information about adopting from the foster care system.  For a multitude of reasons, we kept running into dead ends on that front.

My husband came home from work one day and said, "Hey- do you remember the Otts?  He was in the office today and  they just adopted a little boy from DRC."  So I went to trusty google and started looking at Congo.  Lo and behold, it was in Africa- imagine that! 

I don't know about you, but in my mind, Africa had a stigma.  Poor.  Dirty.  Violent.  AIDS.  I had seen reports on the news and people talking in real life for years about how we should "just let Africa die on the vine".  Or the old adage, "It's Africa.  Things will never change."  But then I came across a news article about Congo that opened my mind.  I've looked all over for it and can't seem to track it down.  But in it, a man was being interviewed in an internally displaced persons camp.  The pictures of the camp made my stomach turn.  Little barefoot children running around everywhere in rags.  Women cooking outside of makeshift tents on tiny fires because firewood was scarce.  Sick people lying around everywhere. Soldiers all around the perimeter with machine guns.  Yep- it looked just like the Africa that fits the stigma.  But then the man being interviewed started to share his story.  He was a teacher. A TEACHER. This man had skills and a job and a life and a home and he had previously been providing for his children.  He wasn't just some "poor African stigma".  He was a worker.  He introduced the interviewer to other people around the camp.  A minister, a carpenter, and on and on.  Real people.  Real jobs.  Real lives that all changed when their villages were burned and terrorized by war.

It made me think about the whole subject of "poor Africa" differently.  I wondered what it would be like if this were me.  My husband in finance.  My mom a nurse.  My dad a store manager.  My aunt a teacher.  What if we were all providing a life for our families and then all of sudden that was taken away and the best we could do now for our families was to live in an IDP camp?  There are no welfare lines.  You can't walk up to a government office and say, "My village was burned and now I have no job and all my possessions are gone.  Can you hook me up with some food stamps and a medical card until I can rebuild my life?"  It just doesn't exist.

The shift in my brain came when I saw the people on the news as real people- real people with stories and histories and dreams for their families that had nothing to do with poverty and war and disease.  War orphans.  It almost chokes me to say it out loud.  Children born to real people whose dream for their family was ripped apart.  It hurts.  It's not fair.  That was it for me.  I was sold that this was where our baby boy would come from.  I was in love with the Congo- it called out to me, it haunted me, it intrigued me, it INSPIRED me.

When we announced that we were adopting from Congo, one woman said to me, "Ugh.  I don't understand African women.  Why do they keep having children when they can't take care of the ones they've got?  They've got one attached to each boob and one on each hip and ten in toe behind her."  I'm sure that woman was not the first one to think that thought.  But let's play the numbers.  About 20-25% of the children in Congo won't live to see their fifth birthday.  If you are playing those odds and you want to have 5 children actually make it to adult hood, you do the math.  Then add in children born as a result of rape and lack of rights for women and it compounds.

I'm sitting here looking at my children playing Wii on the floor at my feet.  They are safe and loved with bellies full of birthday cake and ice cream and they don't have a care in the world .  I can't imagine a mother in a third world country looking at her children and actually wondering which ones of them won't make it. Her love for her children is just as deep but she carries a burden I will never feel the heaviness of. Just because I don't know that woman, doesn't mean that she isn't real or that her pain and her fear isn't real.  It doesn't mean that she doesn't have hopes and dreams for her family.  I thank God every day that I was born in a country where I don't have to worry about contaminated water, malaria, or rebel militias claiming the lives of my babes.

To be a true lover of humanity though, means that I will come along side that mother and that teacher and those war orphans and do what I can do TODAY.  What I can do today- on my thirtieth birthday is make those people real for you as well.  My friend Ingrid told me this morning that guilt is a truly useless emotion. (Amen, Ingrid!  You are a wise woman!)  So today, I'm dropping the guilt that I haven't accomplished everything that I wanted to by the time I was thirty and I'll start focusing on the promise of the great things to come in the next thirty years. I'll keep striving to cross some more of those things off the list.  Look out world- my 30's are going to ROCK!  (That's me yelling my message to the world, by the way!)


If you want to come alongside the hurting in Congo- as always I'll love for you to be a part of our favorite charity working in DRC- Our Family in Africa (formerly Our Family Adoptions).  If you'd like to make a donation, I can assure you that it will be put to good use.  Consider it your birthday gift to me!  If you'd like to be put on the mailing list for our monthly newsletter about the great things OFA is doing in Congo and how you can be a part of it, shoot me an email (meganterry01 @ aol.com) and I'll get you added!  Thanks! 

April 20, 2011

Yin and Yang

My husband is becoming an old man.  There was a band of bad storms coming across the area last night and he decided that he needed to stay up til 1 am to "monitor" the weather. Oh. Lord. He's become the man that monitors the weather.  I have visions of us being old and me saying, "Honey, let's go out to dinner" and him saying, "Can't.  There are storms about 100 miles off.  I feel it in my knees."

Y'all- this wouldn't scare me so bad, except that I see the example he's had in his life.  Kamron's grandfather is the most weather obsessed person I've ever seen.  In fact, we often joke around and ask him if he's afraid that his horse and buggy will get wet out in the driveway.  He complains when it gets cold that his blood is like water and he's going to freeze to death in the comfort of his living room.  He watches the temperature gage all. day. long. Just waiting.  Waiting for rain or snow or cold or hot or for the moon to fall out of orbit or something. 

I fear that this is going to happen to darling husband.  We are gradually becoming our old people selves.  Me- more set in my scattered and overly talkative ways.  Him- grounded and wise and worried about the weather. Yin and Yang.  Balance.  After Deadliest Catch (OMG- I LOVE me some Deadliest Catch) I announced that I was going to bed with my earplugs in.  Around 1 am, in walks darling husband telling me that we are about to get severe weather and that he is going to get the children and bring them downstairs.  I ripped out my earplugs.  Did you just say you were going to wake up sleeping children?  WHAT THE FRECKLE?  I demanded that in NO way was the hubs to wake up Miles.  Miles has been sick this whole week with a bad case of scarlet fever.  I had visions of him staying up the whole rest of the night in a panic at being woken up and scratching his rash til he made himself (and the rest of us!) miserable.  I told the man that I would personally run upstairs and rescue Miles in the case of a tornado in the front yard.  He brought the big kids down, though so that in case of an emergency we'd only have to make a quick rescue of one.

Noah in the middle of the night with his loud talking auditory processing stuff was just about more than this girl could handle.  Sadie whined about why she had to get up. I wanted to say because daddy is becoming his grandfather, but I bit my tongue.  The storm passed with nothing more than a little wind and some lightening.  Big whoop.  But I suppose, as the hubby reminded me many many times in the middle of the night, that the children sleeping under that roof that "could blow off" are valuable.  Yeah, yeah. He's right. Remind me of that when we are all cranky the next morning from lack of sleep! Love his heart, though.

I crawled back in bed, jammed my ear plugs back in my ears and tried to go back to sleep.  I had visions of us getting really old sitting in the nursing home together holding hands.  Our kids coming in to visit us and Noah's loud talking finally coming in handy because his dad's hearing aid batteries are dead and he's too frugal to buy a new one.  Kamron eating the vegetables from our pureed dinners and me stealing his dessert.  Him reading the Wall Street Journal and me circling the hidden pictures in the latest issue of Highlights.  Him going over our financial statements and me writing checks to all the churches that come in and do music for us.  Him exercising in his wheelchair and me doing roller derby up and down the halls in mine.  Me stealing the remote and flipping it to E! while he says, "Dear, perhaps we should check on ... the weather..."  

April 18, 2011

Dear Justin

This little girl...

...is a nerd.  I LOVE that about her.  She and her bestie will spend hours every afternoon playing school.  She writes out and solves math problems for fun.  Part of her bedtime ritual lately has been reading pages and pages of words out of her dictionary. (Yep, total nerd!)  We say our prayers and then usually she'll say sometime like, "Mom!  I got through the c's last night!"  And I'll make some sort of comment about how I love her giant brain.  So imagine my surprise when last night she confessed that the night before she had stayed up late writing a letter to... Justin Beiber.

Now- Sadie is a fan.  She listens to the CD on repeat and I took her to see the movie.  But she's never bought into that crazed girl fan thing.  Or so I thought.  She handed me the letter and asked me to mail it to Justin.

When she gave it to me, it was folded up and looked like this:

...And I thought, "oh how sweet.  She drew him a nice picture.  That is so wholesome."
Then I opened it up and saw this letter from her brother that he dictated to her:


...And I thought, well... "She did a good job with her sentence formations, etc." 
Then I unfolded the letter the rest of the way and what I found made me wonder what had come over my nerdy girl!

Yep- that's my daughter giving Justin her digits and telling him where she lives and that she has bought his "se de" (ummm, CD, I believe)  She even signed it xoxo. 
*sigh*  They grow up so fast!


April 17, 2011

Rules for boys

With the little boys getting older but being so close in age, I am finding myself having to shout more and more rules that I never ever dreamed I would hear coming out of my mouth.  Boys are gross.  When we only had a girl, it was not necessary to create rules pertaining to body parts and their functions.  But boys- ah... boys are a whole different ball of wax .  These are just a few of the things that I've heard myself say over the past few months:

1.  You may touch your own penis but you may NOT pull on or pinch anyone else's penis.  Your penis belongs to YOU and only you until you are at least 27!

2.  In this house we do NOT toot on each other.  This includes tooting onto an object and then putting it in someone's face.

3.  We also do not jump from the couch or the chair WWE style onto anyone else's head or neck.  We especially do not do this naked.

4.  Keep your tongue in your mouth when you kiss your siblings.

5.  Do not put your hand in your butt.  However, if you must for some crazy reason dig in your butt, you must wash your hands.

6. When someone is going to the bathroom, including mommy (okay, especially mommy) do not try to stick your hand in the stream. 

7. It is a REQUIREMENT that you wipe after you drop the kids off at the pool, not an option.

8.  You are not trying to kill anything in the toilet when you pee.  It is not necessary to shoot so hard that it splashes.  Pee is not short for torPEEdo.

After actually writing those down, I am even more convinced that I need another girl to restore some balance and dignity around here.  But oh, how I do love those little boys (even if they are disgusting)!

April 15, 2011

My world 2.0- finding balance

I watched the movie "Eat, Pray,Love" when it came on TV this week.  I read the book eons ago and loved it.  Watching the movie (and reading the book) stirs up all kinds of craziness inside my brain.  It's like eating bad Chinese food- you can't sleep so you stay up at night talking to yourself in fortune cookie speak.

If you've never read the book or seen the movie it is about a woman who is a very successful woman but who just decides that the life she is living is not the one she wants to live anymore and so she just leaves everything behind, including her husband, and goes out in search of a new life.  It is extreme and impractical, but it always gets me thinking- especially when I get bogged down in mommy world.  Before we adopted Miles and we only had two kids, I lived in mommy world about 98.4% of the time.  My life revolved around feeding schedules and nap times and I couldn't come visit you at 2 in the afternoon because someone might be tired and my life was suddenly not anything I could recognize and *poof* I was lost. 

I totally didn't find that balance between being responsive to the needs of my children and being mindful that I was still a person in there who had needs and dreams and desires of her own that had nothing to do with nap time or teaching ABC's or finding preschools.  I was a 20 something buried up in her kids who looked at herself in the mirror and couldn't remember what it is that I like to eat, or listen to on the radio or do when she had free time because I didn't let myself have free time.

In a lot of ways, this blog was my Eat, Pray, Love lifeline.  It wasn't that radical, move to Italy and live in a hut in Bali kind of life makeover- but it was just what I needed.  It was just the accountability I needed to find some balance.  Granted, my scales still tip a little too much in the mommy direction most of the time, but I've discovered how to find more of myself outside of my role as a mom.  And I've learned how to put more of myself into how I parent.

I think it finally happened when we brought Miles home and I realized that parenting him was going to be totally different that how we had ever parented before.  Parenting a child with his issues typically fights every parenting instinct we have.  I had to realize that only I could feel this thing out and that the parenting books and advice from well meaning people were not going to cut it.  I had to make my own path.  In making that path, I think I finally gave myself permission to also make a path for ME that sometimes didn't include the title "mommy" in front of my name.  I suddenly had things that I wanted to do and conferences that I wanted to go to and things that I wanted to learn.  I had to tell myself that I could feel one of two ways about it.  a) I could feel guilty about having something in my life that didn't revolve around my children or b) I could embrace the possibilities and figure out that having a happy and whole mommy was the best gift I could ever give my kids- even if that meant that sometimes I wouldn't be home with them.  I'm trying hard to pick B.

I still struggle with the mommy guilt and I'm a stay at home mom!  I can't imagine how working mothers do it (I swear, working moms are freaking heroes in my book!)  I had to stop listening to the criticism.  And believe me- I've heard it.  "Going to this conference is going to mess your kids routine up!" "Going away with your girlfriends? I never had time for that when I was a mom." "If you used the time you spent blogging (or insert whatever it is that you do here) to work with your kids, imagine how much better they'd be at xyz."  I finally had to say, "ENOUGH!"  I can be a mom and still be ME.  I can still have passions and adventures and my kids are still okay and maybe even better off because their mom is finally not depressed and overwhelmed by the isolation that sometimes comes with never leaving mommy world.

Don't get me wrong- I love my mommy world.  But to be honest- mommy land is a small world that can close in on you if you let it.  And I let it get small on me every single time. I'm a much happier, well rounded person when I take a step out and look at the bigger picture.  Some people call it selfish- I call it finding balance.  Playing the martyr as a mother gets you no where.  You won't win points.  Those tiny people you do it for won't give you an award.  But finding balance- ahhhhh.  Reward central.  Balancing responsibility, passion, parenting, finances, marriage, dreams... it's a delicate act- one that I find myself changing the recipe for all the time. 

Sometimes the pieces are all balanced and sometimes one or two of those pieces gets so big that there isn't room for the others.  When they get out of place, I notice that that is the time where I find myself feeling bitter, frazzled, unappreciative of my life and my husband, and overwhelmed all the time.  Right now my pieces are a little out of whack.  I'm trying to find my "relax and breathe" piece of the puzzle.  It's probably under the couch cushion next to a lifetime supply of crumbs. I'm trying. But such is life.  It's big and crazy and fun and scary and wonderful all wrapped up at the same time. 

Balance, dear ones.  Here's to hoping you find yours and that mine is under the couch. 

April 14, 2011

My tiny advocates

I believe that the issue of child abuse and neglect affects all of us.  If the statistics hold true, out of the 24 kids in my daughter's first grade class, 4-6 of the children in that room are victims of child abuse or neglect.  To me, that is scary stuff.  I want the kids that my children choose for friends and future mates to be the most whole, happy people they can be free from abuse.  Couple that with the fact that many of Miles' behaviors are indicative of lots of strange things in his past, and we wanted to go yesterday to support a great resource in our town called Family and Children's Place. FCP helps to advocate for victims of childhood abuse and neglect and aids in prevention by helping families at risk and by spreading awareness.  I love that this exists in our town.  There are too many children (especially children in our adoption/foster care community) who have suffered through abuse.  We went to an event yesterday to stand with and advocate for FCP and celebrate the hope and healing they bring to our community.

The local news agency evidently was smitten with my boys and asked us for an interview.  I love that they get to be tiny advocates!  They went nuts seeing themselves on the news and I rejoiced that my twang is only slightly ridiculous. (You can also "like" Millions of Miles on facebook if you'd like to see this kind of stuff before it gets blogged about!)

Here's a link to the story and the video package:

http://www.wlky.com/news-archives/27535637/detail.html

April 13, 2011

Family Photos

Just wanted to share a few (ok, a lot) of my favorite shots from our family photo session last weekend. I think our kids' individual personalities were captured so perfectly! 























 *all photos by Ellen Joy Photography.
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