Thursday, December 31, 2009

Buh-bye 2009

2009 was a tough year for almost everybody I know. It brought challenge and loss around every corner.

Thankfully my little family has emerged healthy and happy despite the difficulties, and so excited to welcome the New Year!

Happy New Year! I have every confidence that 2010 is going to be totally awesome :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Modern Technology and Open Adoption

Colin is 11.5 years old(!), and he got his very own cell phone for Christmas. He is ecstatic, and so am I. A couple of months ago he gave me his email address, so we have been emailing, which I love love love. Now we can call and text each other ad lib. Not that I couldn't already call him whenever I wanted, or vice versa, but this feels different. I like it. His parents and I developed this strong foundation with a common goal: that one day, Colin and I would have our own relationship. Up until recently, the primary relationship has been between his parents and me, which is obviously how it should be. Colin is now at an age that we can really start to get to know one another. His parents are comfortable with all of this, of course. In fact, I plan on calling his mom just to let her know how excited I am about this new phase, but also to reinforce that I would never do/say/imply anything that is in disagreeance with what we have all been teaching Colin about our relationships and adoption in general. I also know that it will sound redundant to her. She will appreciate the gesture, but she knows that I know, and I know that she knows that I know... get it? It's how we roll; it's why it takes 11 years to get to this point.

I can tell that Colin is excited for us to have this kind of "independent" communication :)

This is all a fantastic indication that we've been doing something right for the last decade!

Hard work? It pays off.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today was, as expected, a total blast. However, one of my Christmas wishes did not come true: that Jeb stop fighting sleep tooth and nail. He is currently giving Husband a terrible time, like he does every single night. Sleep will have to be a post of its own soon, but for now... back to Christmas.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of special moments, careful preparations, and fun celebrations. Santa was good to us all, especially the Short One.

We left cookies and milk out for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Jeb loved it despite his pained look --- he hates smiling for the camera these days ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Blizzard is what They are calling it.

What a weekend. I worked Friday night, and came home Saturday morning to sleep from 0830-1230 (sad face). Bennett and I went to do Jeb's Christmas shopping while Grandma babysat. It was supposed to be a deliciously leisure Sunday afternoon date, but the blizzard was threatening. Husband started a business last Spring: commercial landscape / commercial snow removal, so obviously the Sunday afternoon date was impossible. BTW, shopping for the Small One who kind of gets Santa = so so so much FUN! We had a blast!!

And then Husband left to prepare for the snow, at 3pm. He got home today at 2pm. Twenty-three freaking hours later. It was his first snow fall as a professional-snow-removal-guy :/

The single parenting for 24+ hours was nothing compared to the anxiety of having Husband out in blizzard conditions. I was worried about his physical safety, his anxiety about performing for clients, his absolute fatigue, and, and, and..... I was a wreck. He encountered faulty equipment, lying salt providers, and snow that just.would.not.stop. I was his Ground Control, and helped him out of several jams with my go.ogle abilities. It was hair-raising at times, to say the least. I stayed up way too late, and fed my worry with a little too much wine.

By this morning I was a ball of nervous energy, and decided to bundle up Jeb and myself to go out and at least shovel the stairs and breathe some fresh air. After 25 minutes of dressing the two of us, we went outside, and after approximately 5 minutes, Jeb looked at me and declared "DONE!". We were out just long enough for our clothes to get snowy enough so as to make a nice puddle inside the front door. I put on Elmo and went back out (way too much TV this weekend-- crown me Mother of the Year) because I needed to do SOMETHING instead of refresh the weather channel website and worry about Husband. So, my Virginia-born son hates the snow. His Florida-born mama feels the same.

In the end: Husband is safe but tired. Customers are happy. Small One is doped up on Elmo, but no worse for the wear. Mama is s p e n t, but happy to have the whole family under one roof tonight.

What 19 inches looks like on my back patio:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The picture version of the last post.

I'm too lazy to edit and add in pictures to the last post ;)

Jeb got his saw to help "cut" the tree.

Licking the beaters + Elmo's World = Pure Heaven

Yay! Poinsettias!

Fruits of our Labor:

Totally fun wrapping paper:

Jeb's first home-made Christmas decoration :) I have a feeling this one will be my favorite decoration for many many years :)

It's really hard to get a decent picture of a Christmas tree. The photo doesn't do it justice, but the cutie-patutie makes up for it I think!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days to Go

I said it before, and I'll say it again: I am enjoying the holiday season more than I ever have. Growing up, Christmas was always nice, but my parents' marriage wasn't great, and I always felt the conflict of seeing the Magic but knowing our home wasn't completely happy. I hated that conflict. It was like Christmas exemplified what should be, but wasn't. My husband's family was similarly stable, but with some depressed undercurrents. The two of us have a far better marriage than either of our parents', and we talk often about how to create something different for Jeb. Christmas is a perfect opportunity. I know our family will not be perfect, but it is/will be happy. I want Jeb to only feel the magic of the season; for as long as his innocence will allow, at least. I want him to look back at daily life, and especially the holidays, and have tradition, laughter, commitment, and love come to mind. This is the first season that we've been able to put all this into practice and see the smiles that result :) It's better than I ever dreamed :)

So, with 10 days to go, here are the 10 most totally awesome things I am enjoying this year:

- The tree! We didn't put up a tree last year, for several reasons, but this year's is gorgeous and I had 2 years worth of enjoyment hanging our ornaments, with my short helper.

- Christmas cards! I have sent out 72 cards, and I watch for the mail man everyday so I can see how many I get that day. I am loving seeing pictures of my friends' kids :)

- The giving. We are on a tighter budget than usual, but I am thrilled with the humble yet thoughtful gifts we have to give. It is going to be a simple, but beautiful gift giving.

- The wrapping paper! I usually go for a folk-y kind of look, but this year I picked a Dr. Seuss-y kind of theme. I LOVE IT!

- The Christmas music. A couple of radio stations started playing Christmas music 24/7 the first week of November. I loved it, but was worried I'd be sick of it by now. Not so! I am still totally loving hearing Christmas music!

- My poinsettias. My husband is a Plant Man, and we've always had an amazing display of poinsettias in our home. I was worried our budget just wouldn't handle poinsettias this year, but I found a few awesome deals, and we have a little mini-display :) Loving it!

- The traditions I am continuing with Jeb. We have one of those 1-a-day calenders with a chocolate behind each door. He is bananas for it! I have a book: A Story a Day til Christmas. My mom read it to me every year, and now I read it to Jeb. Jeb and I will be making sugar cookies and decorating them for Santa, which my mom also did with me every year. There are others, and we are starting a few if our own as well.

- The baking. Jeb and I have been baking every day. He is such a good helper! Yesterday we made butter pecan cookies, which were my maternal grandmother's FAVORITE. I helped my mom make them for her every year. My grandma passed on many years ago, but I still thought of her as I made the cookies with my boy. Today we made orange-cranberry-walnut bread. Tomorrow, we will bring the bread and cookies to the nursing home where Jeb's great-grandma lives. Hopefully we'll give some smiles to some elderly people :) We have also made banana bread, and a cake, and have still to make chocolate chip - walnut cookies and the sugar cookies... and any other awesome recipe I come across! We put on our Christmas music, make a huge mess, and enjoy some treats :)

- The Christmas movies. Charlie Brown was on tonight, and I was down right giddy!

- And most importantly, the Reason for the Season. This has been a really tough year. Thankfully my relationship with my Lord is strong, and I am surely keeping it in mind that we have made it this far because we are abundantly blessed by Him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My house may be dusty, but we are having a blast.

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep......

I first heard this poem when I was pregnant with Jeb, and it of course made me choke up (still does), and I imagined rocking my newborn in the nursery, understanding the message to my core. I believe I did have moments in his infancy where I actively chose to share moments with him, and put down the busy-ness of life. Life with an infant is intense, though, and you mostly don't have any choice but to hold, rock, snuggle, nurse, ect. At least my infant didn't give me much choice ;) With a new baby, I got into the mode where if he was happy while not being held for a minute, I immediately attacked my to do list, whether I had 5 minutes or 30. Cleaning, laundry, bills, grocery lists, dusting, a quick toilet scrub, grab a bite to eat, pull something out of the freezer for dinner, grab that cup of coffee out of the microwave that I heated up 2 hours ago...

Life with a toddler is so much easier in many ways. He plays trains while I shower, instead of crying in the bouncy seat while I sing the 4 thousandth verse of Wheels on the Bus as I wash my hair. He sits in his seat at the table and eats lunch independently, instead of nursing round the clock. He can follow me with his own rag to "help" me with the dusting, instead of needing to be carried everywhere. He "fixes" the rocking chair with his tools as I enjoy my piping-hot coffee and check my email, or chat with a friend on the phone. He'll watch some Elmo while I put the groceries away, instead of whimpering because that is one chore that is really impossible to do 1 handed. In short, he's much more independent. As I was playing catch with him this afternoon, I was thinking about how maybe he could read a book while I got XY or Z done, but then I remembered this poem. I thought to myself, "really, what better or more important thing do I have to do right now than play with my boy, watch him laugh, help him feel loved?" It was a no brainer. Obviously I can't spend ALL of my time on the floor with him, but I've had several of these moments lately, where I remember my priorities and ignore my less-than-shiny kitchen floor.

It feels really good, to both of us.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Unabashed Bragging on the Husband

This picture is a couple of months old, but it is my fav of my boys.

I am so blessed to have my husband. I have known him for over 17 years. When we were 13 he told me he wanted to marry me. We spent our teen years as best best friends, but then went separate ways for college. We got back together 6 years ago, and my life with him is better than I ever could have hoped for.

He is a Man. He is strong, and calm, and capable. He has more integrity in his pinkie finger than many people have in their whole body. He is honest, and diplomatic, and hysterical. We laugh constantly. He loves me with a depth I barely understand. My happiness is his first priority; he shows it daily in countless ways. He calls me on his lunch break to tell me he misses me. I am head over heals in love with him; his strong arms are my Safe Place.

He is an amazing father. He is always on the floor, playing with J and reading him books. He puts him to bed every single night. When I am at work, they do the laundry together. He knows just as much as I do about vaccines, and breastfeeding, and what to do for J's occasional bouts of constipation. He is truly a hands-on Dad.

Giving my son this incredible man for a father is one of the best things I could have ever given him. B is the man I hope J will be one day, too. He represents so much of what I couldn't give C. I hate that many boys grow up with out such a strong role model. My son is one lucky kid to have the dad he has.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Recently, an online aquantaince said "Baby's first Christmas doesn't even compare to Baby's third Christmas". I couldn't agree more...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Birthday Eve

Exactly 2 years ago from right now, my alarm was going off. Husband and I were heading in for an induction. At 42 weeks pregnant, I was desperate to give birth. J was due Nov 19, and here I was having a December baby?! He wasn't born until Dec 4th, but the 3rd will always be my Labor Day. We had a totally awesome natural birth, and I immediately became Suction Cup Mama. The severe anxiety set in by day 2. Any signs of distress from the baby sent me into orbit. I thought I was just being a normal new mom, but looking back my responses were fraught with adoption baggage. Anything that wasn't just right, any struggle J had, the littlest things made me feel like my validity as a mom was being threatened. If he fussed and I didn't fix it, if his cord fell off too early or too late, if I complained an ounce about sleep deprivation, someone would come to take him away. If my first baby were better off elsewhere, maybe this one would be too? Maybe someone/something would intervene and he would disappear. J got a cumulative 2 ounces of formula on day 3 before my milk came in and I agonized about whether I could call myself an "exclusive nurser"; had I taken the easy way out that day? (I am so not a 'formula is the devil' breast feeder, it was only my own anxiety.) When J was 3 weeks old, I took a 15 minute walk with my mother. It was the ONLY time I was away from him until I went back to work at 10 weeks. We co-slept full time, so I literally held him all day and night. I physically could not bring myself to be away from him, which fed the Anxiety Beast even more. My husband and I were primed to watch for depression, or the blues, but that anxiety hit me out of left field. I won't even talk about what it was like to go back to work.

I remember one day when I was away from him and I had the thought I am his mother even when I'm away from him. It was a novel concept.

The anxiety is better and different; but not gone. I still catch myself feeling like my motherhood is less valid. I no longer cry every time I leave him, but I lay in bed and wonder: did J run enough today? did he laugh enough today? did he get enough protein? should I have played blocks instead of talking to my mom on the phone? does he feel loved? am I doing something wrong? ---- I KNOW that J is well cared for, happy, healthy, lighthearted, stress-free, and all those good things. But, I'm still trying to prove to someone that it's cool that he's with me.

Thankfully, he is a total mama's boy, so we spend lots of time cuddling, which is obviously the best feeling in the entire world :)