January 29, 2013

Adoption Fundraiser Linkup!

Come close- I'm about to tell you something you need to hear.  Are you ready for it?  Here it comes... ADOPTION IS EXPENSIVE!!!  Can I get an amen?  (And all the adopting families groan amen.)

When we adopted way back in the day, we were so brand spanking new to the adoption community that we did not realize that people actually fundraised to cover the costs of adoption.  No lie.  We just didn't know.  And boy- the credit card that took us two years to pay off sure wish that we had known!

There are few things that thrill me more than being a part of helping to bring home someone's child through adoption.  Sometimes $5 is all we can spare.  Sometimes I happen to find a $20 in my purse at church and it just burns a hole in my pocket through the whole sermon until I can run over to the closest adopting family in the congregation and hand it over.  But no matter what the amount- it is hands down my favorite way to spend my money.  There is NOTHING like seeing that first picture of a family being united and knowing that you had a hand in that.  It almost gives me chills thinking about it.  Helping to create a family for a child is the coolest thing I can imagine.  If it's something you've never been a part of, I just can't encourage you enough to get behind an adopting family.

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago who is about to embark on the journey of adopting.  She said that part of her felt funny about asking people to help them out financially.  I get it.  It's hard asking people to part with their dollars.  But for so many people, it is an HONOR to give and be a part of making families and supporting adoptions..  It's not asking someone to give you money so that you can go to the spa.  It's giving someone an opportunity to give to a child in need- and what does a child need more than a family?

Every so often I like to do a fundraising linkup to give adopting families a place to post what they are doing to help bring home their kids (no matter what kind of adoption or from where)  If you are a fundraising family PLEASE put up your link!  Others want to find you!

Here are just a few of my favorite fundraisers going on right now:

BEARD FOR GLORY:  Some people get so stinkin' creative, it just blows my mind.  The Wallace Family in KY are letting you be a part of settling a marital dispute.  You see- the dad of the operation has the ability to grow an epic beard.  The mama is not a fan.  For $5 to their adoption fund they are letting you place a vote on "beard or no beard" and determine the fate of his facial hair.  Check out their super cute video.

You can see all the details on their site BEARD FOR GLORY.
Another one I'm totally loving is this silver "Be The Change" bracelet:
You can check out how to order it through the Boswell's site.
Now it's your turn!  Link up your fundraisers below (please link straight to the fundraiser- not a blog home page).  If you've got friends adoping- link up their fundraisers for them. And everyone else- start shopping and supporting.  You have an awesome opportunity to be a part of changing a child's WHOLE LIFE!  Get crackin'!  If you aren't in a position to support a family right now, would you please consider sharing?  These families need all the help they can get.  Thanks a million!


January 28, 2013

A Whole Lotta Stuff

We've had a flurry of activity around our home.  Some of it has been on purpose (trying to stay busy to keep our minds occupied after the loss) and some of it has been just because.  When I look back over all that's been going on over the last three weeks, I kinda wonder how we survived!  Here's a little rundown of all the happenings about our house...

That man I married has always been in a band.  I mean ALWAYS.  The kind of commitment to a band that has bandmates playing drums in my basement when my babies are four days old kind of stuff.  But this month brought about the end of his band.  It was all very Fleetwood Mac.  I love that he has an outlet and has a lot of fun playing, but it is a. lot.  A. whole. lot.  I put on my big girl panties (the ones that help me stay up past 9pm) and went to his very last gig.  I got to bed around 3:30 am and then got up with the kids at 7.  How's that for a reminder of why big girl panties should be kept in the drawer!  The alter ego that comes out of that boy on stage gets me every time. Swoon. 

The big kids had so much fun on the swim team this summer that we let them sign up for a winter swim clinic to improve their fundamentals.  I think those two were born for the water.  Miles- not so much.  He tolerates the water.  Mostly, if it's below 95 degrees, Miles is shivering and cold, so he and the pool don't mix.  But I firmly believe that all kids need to know how to swim well enough that if they fell in a pool that they could get back to the side.  So the poor kid has to endure swimming lessons while the big kids do the clinic. 
This picture kills me.  That little face looks like it could totally spit venom if it would get him out of taking lessons.

Wrapped up in a warm, fluffy towel is way more his style.
And in the middle of all the hub-bub, we did this little thing called moving.  We said goodbye to the house that we've lived in for 6 years and brought home two kiddos to.  Several months ago we bought 5 acres of land and are having our dream house built.  The house should be finished in May/June and we were hoping to not have to move twice- but our existing home sold and we just couldn't turn down an offer on it, so we are renting a home in the interim.  We figured moving twice beats paying two mortgages any day.  This rental place is great.  It's small, but probably the most functional space I've ever lived in.  It's very comfortable here and the kids love it.  We left most of our belonging in boxes in the garage and it is very freeing to not have so much stuff.  The longer I think about it- the more I think all the stuff just needs to get donated.  This minimalist living seems to suit us all so much better!
Packing up the old house (otherwise known as a life sized Angry birds course)

Having "box races" (think sack races) in the new, empty house.
As we were packing up, Miles came to the realization that we had enough University of Kentucky hats that we could all wear one and insisted that we all take a picture looking "the same".

Noah came home from school with big news on the last day of getting off the bus at the old house.  He had lost his first tooth!  It was a full circle moment as I thought about bringing him home from the hospital to that house and now here he was with one of the first tell tale signs of not being a baby anymore. 
AHHHHH!  Where are the years going?!?!?
 Showing off his tooth in a plastic bag.  Pure grossness.
Sadie decided that now was the time in her life when she needed to learn how to play the guitar.  I'm not sure if she was feeling reminiscent of Kamron not being in a band any more or what, but she begged him to teach her a few things.  For days she carried around her guitar playing the intro to Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train".  She'd play a few notes and from somewhere in the distance Noah would do that "Aye, aye, aye" part.  They make a pretty good team.  And she's a pretty good little guitar player!


My grandmother had to keep the kids while I went to an appointment one day and when I came back to pick them up, I found Sadie going off the rails on a crazy train up in the tree.  When that girl puts her mind to something- she does it 100%.  Which is why I'm glad it's playing the guitar this time instead of creating a store for duct tape crafts like it was last month. We can not possibly make room for one more purse/cell phone case/wallet made out of duct tape!
Construction on our new house FINALLY got started! We can not wait until they start framing and we can watch it come together.  We have such big hopes for this home and all the memories we will be making there! 
We took an art class on MLK day.  This is one of the kids' new favorite things to do.  We did it once over Christmas break and they have been so excited to go and paint again.  I'm trying to come up with some clever Pinteresty way to display all of their cute painting in the new house.
And lastly, because we just needed a minute to unwind and decompress after so much stress and loss lately, we booked a last minute overnighter to an indoor water park a couple of hours away so that we could spend some time together away from everything.  In true "real life" form, our van broke down on the way there and we limped into a shop 15 miles short of our destination.  Luckily- we pulled into the shop of a super nice man who called us a cab, fixed our van and then drove our van up to us the next day.  There are still such good people in the world!
 Drippy dreadlocks make me so happy!

And then there was a serious checkers battle in the lobby of the hotel where I had the cutest checker opponent ever. 
Now we are ready to step back into a routine and slooooooow down.  Way down.  Hope you are doing well!  Thanks for hanging with us!


January 25, 2013

When A Heart Breaks

A few Friday nights ago, Kamron and I were driving home in the car, alone, coming from a fancy business dinner with a new hire.  It was a lovely night.  We don't get a lot of nights out.  It seems that every child that comes into our family makes those nights fewer and father between.  As we got in the car, my phone rang.  I almost didn't answer it since we were on a date- but something told me that I should pick up.

That call changed everything. 

On the other end of the line was a friend who wanted to connect me with a family who was dissolving their international adoption.  The child needed a new family and time was of the essence.  I talked to my friend the entire way home about the ins and outs that she knew while Kamron kept looking over at me with questioning eyes as I said things like, "How old is she?" and "How long has she been in the US?" and "What concerns are their about attachment and development?"

I hung up the phone and Kamron pulled the car over.  I spilled all the details fast and furiously at him and remarkably, my man who has every moment of his life written down on his five year plan, felt so at peace with the spur of the moment turn of events.  We picked up our kids, walked around in a daze for a few hours trying to wrap our brains around everything and then decided to sleep on it.

The next morning, the mother and I got connected and spent several hours on the phone together and made a plan for us to go and pick up this precious new 6 year old bundle of joy in just six short days.  They had talked to several people and all were in agreement that it would be best for this child to be in a different home.  The details of the story are not mine to tell.  But with each new piece of information, my heart swelled and swelled.  This child's story?  It was like I was built for just for it.

You see, when we adopted Miles almost three years ago, I was naive.  I didn't expect trauma.  Nothing about trauma was on my radar.  My expectations were high and my patience levels were low.  My hopes were through the roof but my new reality left me feeling somewhere in the gutter.  My support systems didn't exist and my pride kept me from reaching out when I needed to.  Now three years removed with an amazing child who is thriving- I often look back at those character building days and wish that I had a do over.  I would have pushed less.  I would have listened more.  I would have expected nothing and rejoiced when there was connection instead of expecting everything and setting everyone up to fail.  I know that if I had it to do over again, I could have been better.

And here... here was every scenario we've already been through over the last three years knocking on my door and asking to come in.  Disruption is hard.  Adoption is hard.  Sometimes matches aren't right, dynamics aren't what's best for everyone, and a new environment may be just what a child needs to gain some new footing.  We desperately wanted to be that new environment for this child.

For the last year, we've actively been waiting for foster children.  We've been waiting for older kids who each come with their own backgrounds and hurts and personalities and triumphs.  We've submitted our home study for COUNTLESS waiting children who have needs that we've questioned whether we could meet.  I feel so strongly in not choosing a child to meet the needs of our family but matching with a child who has needs we can meet.  Every scenario we've encountered over the last year was just a little bit off- we didn't have the right kinds of therapies in our area, or the ages of our kids wouldn't have been good for the child, or we didn't have an accessible home, or we just didn't have the right kind of parenting style, or or or.  But this girl that we got the call about?  Every need, we could meet. Every strength that my children have would have been just what would help her.  Every strength that we have as parents and our unique parenting style seemed to be what she needed.  She and Miles would share a heritage, she and Sadie would share a bedroom and she and Noah would share a classroom.

We contacted an attorney and started the paperwork for temporary guardianship so we could get her enrolled in school here while we figured the rest out.  We spent a lot of time talking and emailing with her family.  We spent even more time in prayer and counsel.  Within 2 days of getting that call, there were probably well over 100 people praying for this child and her family by name.  Praying for all of them as this transition occured.  Praying for our kids and the one who felt like our child even though we'd never met her.  Praying for peace because as our arms were feeling fuller and the dream for our family was coming to fruition, we recognized that another family's dream was dying.  That's a hard balance- tempering your excitement with anther family's heartbreak. It is the hardest part of adoption to wrap my heart around.  Loss and hurt mingled with hope and love- it's a combination that baffles me and breaks me down for how much heartache is involved. 

We weren't naive this time around.  We knew how hard this would be.  And yet- I reveled in it.  I wanted it.  I willingly wanted to take it on and it felt so incredibly right.  It was a decision that we had an unbelievable peace about. 

Our excitement and love grew for this child.  We stared at her gorgeous picture constantly.  I cried in the middle of Walmart while buying her little pajamas because I just couldn't believe how amazing it was that I was the one who would get to be a mom to this incredible gift.  We made plans.  Our friends brought over clothes for her and backpacks full of school supplies and sent care packages in the mail.  They filled our freezer with meals and my phone buzzed continuously with friends and family checking on us and offering to do whatever we needed.  Our kids bounced around for days and told all of their friends that they were getting a sister and those friends all made welcome home signs for the little girl they'd never met but loved just the same simply because she existed.  Our friends and family rallied around us in a way that a girl can only dream about.  This time?  This time we had a safety net of loving arms and hearts ready to wrap around us and help us heal this child in every way imaginable.  This time we were ready.

Over the course of that week, the family decided to put off everything for another week.  There was too much to work out legally to make things happen in 6 days.  So we got moved (talk about a busy week!) and tried to make the best of it by telling ourselves that at least this child didn't have to go through a move in her first week with us.  And then another call came that changed everything...

The family changed their minds and decided to keep the little girl.

My world stopped.  I sat on the other end of the phone and didn't quite know what to say.  Again, we were walking that balance of tempering excitement while another family's dream died.  Only this time, it was our dream that was dying.  I absolutely respect their right to change their minds.  It is, after all, their child and that is NOT an easy decision.  But I also respect my right to grieve the loss of a child that felt like she had always been mine.

I'm not sure how the body or the brain does it- but in the 10 days time that we thought this little girl would be our daughter, our hearts had become so engulfed with love for her.  We know that love in adoption isn't always ooey-gooey, but fierce and fighting and that fierce and claw for scraps love was aflame in us for her in a way that we couldn't explain. 

In every way, we were devastated.  Our children were devastated.  Our extended family was devastated.  It felt so much like a death- and yet so different.  This child was very much alive, yet alive in the arms of someone else.  That's a hard thing to make peace with.  It's one of those things that has you shake your fist at God and wonder what was the point at all.

We are now 10 days out from that second call that rocked us.  We are still breathing.  We still talk about her daily.  I still stare at her picture and pray for her.  I know that what her family is doing is not easy for them and I pray fervently that their family melds together in every way imaginable because I desperately love this child and want what's best for her- even if that's not me. 

I've tried to make sense of this.  I've tried to learn from it and figure out what this whole thing is supposed to open my eyes to.  I haven't figured it out.  The only thing I know is that humans are designed to want to push back from situtations that cause them pain.  But this time?  This time I'm leaning into it.  I'm reminding myself that sometimes a person comes along in life that is worth every ounce of heartbreak and pain and gut-wrenching sadness.  She's worth it.  She's worth it.  She's worth it.  Every bit of it.  I'm leaning in.

January 09, 2013

Packing It Up

Our lives are in boxes right now!  We got a contract on our house and have to be out quickly!  The house that we are building won't be finished until the beginning of June and so- that's right- the Terry's will be moving twice!  (How did we ever get so lucky?  *Sigh*)  So forgive me if there is a little blogging absence... we are busy!

See all these boxes labeled "books"?  Those are my books.  My kids have about 3 boxes of books as well.  I though that I would differentiate whose books were whose by writing "adult books" on mine but then realized that the movers would think that we had box after box of porn.  In case you were wondering about the kinds of things I think about while packing... that's it.

I'll still be Facebooking- so hop over there and join me if you want to keep up with us during the shuffle!

January 07, 2013

Monumentally Behind

Who's monumentally behind and just now sorting through the pictures from Christmas?  This girl!  Here's our big giant photo dump of all things Christmas/Christmas Break/New Years...

Putting up the Christmas tree.  Bunny ears and this Saturday Night Fever pose are the current  "in" thing in our house.
Such a Daddy's girl!
Putting on the ornaments.
Big kid date with GranMary to see "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
Christmas with Sue and my Dad
Art class!  This was probably the favorite Christmas break activity!
I found this vintage Fisher Price barn on ebay.  It was my favorite gift to give this year.  
My aunt Ann got Miles this bathrobe- he NEVER takes it off.
Christmas Eve all posey posey
...And how they really act.
Nope.  Not excited at all.  Not even a little bit!
This is the first year that the kids used their own money to buy each other gifts.  This is what Noah picked out for Miles (He was so excited to give it to him!)  Every Congolese kid needs a red cowboy hat, right?!
Christmas morning
My beautiful Granny Sadie on Christmas Day
Having cousins is the best!  

January 03, 2013

Banned Blogging

As a person who has no filter, years ago my husband put a couple of guidelines in place for things that I was not allowed to blog about.  The first ban on his list was about our sex life.  The second was that I'm not allowed to say anything bad about our marriage- because we get along 100% of the time and I never ever ever get sick of watching political/financial news and I love when he leaves wet towels on the bed (oh wait, that's me who leaves wet towels on the bed).

The third is that I was never ever allowed to mention the "weenie touch".  Except that I just did.  But it's been years since we got the weenie touch, so I'm now deeming it okay to share.

Remember when Diary of a Wimpy Kid came out and that kid got the "cheese touch" when he picked up a moldy, gross piece of cheese?  Well, it's kind of like that.  But with body parts.  Noah is 6 now, but when he was four, he thought that it would be hilarious to run into the living room totally nekkid.  He said, "You better run or you're gonna get the weenie touch!" Everyone took off running.  We put a stop to it, put clothes on the four year old and no one's weenie did anything. Crisis averted.  No big deal, right? 

Except that it was a big deal because our kids talked for months about "that one night that they almost got the weenie touch".  Once they even said, "Daddy!  Give Mommy the weenie touch!"  Really they just wanted him to chase me around the house, but the way they phrased it nearly made me wet my pants from laughing.  And everyone knows that if you laugh at your kids once, they will repeat what they just said over and over and over again. 

We were mortified.  We were totally convinced that they were going to go to school and tell their teachers that they had the weenie touch and they would take it all wrong and launch an investigation and take all our kids away and it would be front page news in our small town. There were many nights when I would lie in bed and worry about the "weenie touch". (You can take that how you want.)

Since there are social workers always in and out of our house, we would always say a silent little prayer that no kids would suddenly show up nekkid and try to give one of the workers the weenie touch.  The whole thing was ridiculous.  And hilarious.

After the unfortunate incident of the nekkid 4 year old running into the living room, immediately upon putting said child in a pull-up and some PJ's, the husband's first words were, "You can NOT blog about this."

Ooops.  So back to what I was saying.  There are three things that I can't blog about: sex, marriage, and the weenie touch.  However, if the mister had the foresight to envision what happened yesterday, I'm sure he would have included a ban on talking about adult body hair as well.  (Yes, I know what it's called.  However, if I write the word public hair without the "l"- all of our friends that work at UPS will be up in arms when HR bans this blog from their work computers again.  You are welcome, UPS- now bring Sadie's mail order caterpillars quickly and we'll call it even)  Now, back to what I was saying... again. 

The kids bust in on me in the bathroom all the time.  I try to cover up ( a well placed wash cloth goes a long way) but I felt for certain that they'd gotten glimpses over the years- especially because I'm cheap and our washcloths are old and holey.  As an aside- when I was 6, I once saw my dad naked on accident.  He didn't realize we were home and didn't put on a towel and I was scarred for life.

So I always tried to not make nudity a big deal in our home.  Kamron is a prude, but I want my kids to feel comfortable with their own bodies so I have no problem if the kids walk in and I'm in my Spanx underwear and bra (they see worse on the beach, right?)  Anyway- Noah bolted in my room after I got out of the shower.  My towel was on the floor and my undies were only pulled up as high as my knees.  He stopped abruptly, looked at me and said, "WOAH!" and then bolted right back out the door. 

I heard him running (like his life depended on it)  "SADIE!  SADIE!" he was shouting.  "What?" she sighed with all the 9 year old exasperation she could muster.

"Did you know that grown-ups have, ummm, errrr, ummm hair on their body!?!?!!??"

She talks like a tiny adult. "Yes," she responded. "And it will happen to you pretty soon, too.  AND TRUST ME- YOU'LL BE HAPPY ABOUT IT." 

What?  You'll be happy about it?  What planet does that girl live on?  That American Girl book we gave her about body changes must make it out to be a big, freakin' party down there.

There's no good way to wrap this one up.  I just wanted to record it for posterity before a body hair blogging ban happened in my house.  (And we wonder why the state hasn't sent us any foster kids?!)

**Have you joined the Millions of Miles Facebook page yet?  Tons more pictures, stories, kid quotes and updates about our crazy family get posted over there. I'd love for you to join us!**  
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