Thursday, October 28, 2010

Birthday Guesses... or Wishes...

(first time EVER to post 3x's in one day!)

So, the cast of The Sound of Music was on Oprah today in honor of the birthday of myself and my daughter.  (NICE of them, right???) And earlier in the week I attended The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long w/ some great friends where WE were DEFINITELY heard singing in the Abbey!  ;-)  So all of these elements have combined to make this a GREAT birthday week!

But...

Today while watching the cast of TOSM on Oprah Avé turned to me and said,
"I guess Maria could be my Mommy."  

She uses "guess" when what she means is "wish."  So, yeah.  She wishes Maria was her Mommy.  And I'm not even offended!  Because- Hey!  I wish Julie Andrews was MY mommy too!!!  She is a GODDESS!!!  (and did you know that SHE is also an adoptive mom???)  What a rock star.

And I'll close with some pix of the Birthday Girls before we went out to dinner tonight:






Happiness.

The Sound of Music meets Beauty and the Beast - observations of a 4 year old

I gave Avé a copy of Beauty and the Beast for her (our) birthday today and we just finished watching it together a few minutes ago.

Here is a direct quote from her during the movie:

"Mommy, Belle is like a 'other Maria.  And Beast is like the Captain when he was grouchy before he 'came nice."

Amazing.  My daughter is a genius.  She "gets" it.  She "gets" so much.  And I "get" her.

My heart is so full and happy.  I wish I could just stay in this moment forever...

My B-Day!

OH! MY! GOSH!

My friend Sohailah dedicated an entire blog post to ME in honor of my birthday today!

So check it out if you want to see pix of a MUCH younger me and read a few crazy stories from my youth.  Thanks, Soh, for the shout out!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

4th Birthday... 1st Birthday Party!!!

Avé and I are sharing a birthday- (you can read about how that came to be here)- and sadly, she's kinda disgusted about it.  "Why me share my birfday?  Why Jack and Ben no share their birfday?"  Such a woman.  Choosing to share my birthday with her made more sense than just randomly picking a date in the fall, but I did, for a moment, consider letting her have her own date after she kicked up a fuss.  (See- we haven't finished our re-adoption here in the states which means we can make both her name and her birthday whatever we want them to be at this point.  I have GOT to get started on that paperwork!!!)  But when I mentioned to Mick about giving her her own birthday he said, "You've already let her change her name.  Don'tcha think that's enough power for a 3 year old???"  True enough.  So, we share.

But Saturday we celebrated HER and only HER!  We kept it small.  I've noticed that in situations that feel a little out of control to her she tends to withdraw and wig out a little.  And wigging out for her involves telling me "NO!" a lot and that's super irritating.  So in order to avoid being annoyed w/ my daughter on her special day, we kept it small and simple.

I think I'll just let the photos tell the rest of the story:

First... we had to make cupcakes.

One of the MAIN reasons for making cupcakes
is so that you can lick the beaters!  

Then just before bedtime a last minute decoration:
Hello Kitty lipgloss rings get shoved into all the cupcakes.  

And then the next morning...
your heart stops just because she is so beautiful.

She loves her new PINK cowboys boots, natch!

We made tu-tus for each girl- and Avé had to wear hers
even over her pretty party dress!

Auntie Kelly and Annie (or as Avé calls her "AY-nee")
making a crown and a necklace.

Kelly and Ellie making a crown.

Ana and Essenney making a... what else?
Every princess needs a tu-tu and a crown.

Princess Sakari

Princess Avé


Princess Ellie


Princess Essenney 

The Princesses chat over popcorn.

More Princess chat.

All the Princesses and (of course!) their Queens!

First Birthday Candles...

First time blowing out the candles!

The sweetest Princess EVER.

Adore.

Double Adore.

Precious friends gathered to shower her with
their love and their gifts and their prayers.  

Oh!  My heart...

And what do Princesses want to do after they have made
crowns and jewelry and tu-tus and  have a sugar rush to burn off???
They want to JUMP!


And JUMP!

And on a rainy day that is also a
FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER,
Princesses are allowed to do whatever they want.  
It was perfect.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Best. Day. Ever.

Birthday party for Avé in the morning
+
 Her first viewing of The Sound of Music in the afternoon
=
Perfection.

Avé doesn't like to watch TV or movies, but she does like to listen to music.  So to buy myself some down time this afternoon after her sweet party I told her that we were going to watch a movie together, but it was a movie that had lots of singing and dancing and kids in it.

And from the opening scene, she was hooked.

Julie Andrews came through the mountain meadow with her arms outstretched rejoicing in the fact that the hills are alive, and Avé turned to me and said very seriously, "Mommy.  Who that girl?"  I said, "Her name is Maria" to which she replied, "I like that girl."  And then she snuggled into me, eyes glued to the screen...

...and I wept.

Really.

Wept.

Because I couldn't believe how beautiful it was to share this movie with her.

Because I couldn't believe how much she loved it right from the start.

Because never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how beautiful it would be to share a love for this movie with a daughter.

Because I realized that God really does love the TWO of us that much... 
that He would see a little girl in need of a second family... 
and and would see that she could love The Sound of Music... 
and He would put us together.   

Just because He's that great.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Conversation upon leaving the Zoo today and passing 
the strategically place Ice Cream Truck:

Avé:  Mommy, can we get some ice cream?

Me:  No.

Ben:  Mom, can we get some ice cream?

Me:  No.  ...Anyone else want to ask the same question and hope for a different answer?  Because that's the definition of insanity?  Anyone?

Avé:  Mommy, why other kids have ice cream and no us?

Me:  Because other kids have moms who are nicer than yours.

Jack:  Mom- those kids may have moms who are nicer than ours, but we have a mom who is funnier than theirs.



...That's all I was going for, folks.  Now I can die happy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TEFF at the Pumpkin Patch!

Teff, for those who aren't steeped in Ethiopian information, is the grain that is used to make injera- the ubiquitous bread that is used to scoop up delicious Ethiopian food.  But in this case T.E.F.F. stands for Tulsa Ethiopian Family Fun!  It's the cheesy acronym that I made up when I planned a visit to the Pumpkin Patch for the ET adoptive families in our area!  I may be the only person calling our group "TEFF" at this point, but I'm gonna keep saying it until it catches on!  Because, who doesn't love cheese???  ;-)

So, yes, there were many adorable Ethiopian kids at the Pumpkin Patch last Sunday... but to get all these kids organized to take a group photo while climbing/sitting/standing/falling on a big pile of pumpkins was nearly impossible.  Here are a few of our efforts:
Attempt #1

Attempt #2

Attempt #3
Yeah, so the group photo?  Not so much.  But we had lots of fun and got lots of other fun shots!





Avé and her beautiful ET Princess friend Sakari.
I hope those 2 girls will be BFFs forever!  


And this WOULD be my new fav family photo if Ben wasn't pouting b/c I wouldn't let him stand in line for 45 minutes to buy a pumpkin that he fell in love with.  :-/  'Cause I'm just mean like that.







Monday, October 18, 2010

Tagged!

I love the bloggy world.  I love "meeting" new people and getting to share in and learn from their lives!  The adoption-blogger world is one of the best and most supportive I could ever imagine.  Whether it was the paperwork or the waiting or the day we each got our referrals... we have all been there for each other!  My new bloggy friend Deena has been so fun to get to know.  Her adorable daughter Grace MUST be Avé's twin separated at birth!  These girls are beautiful little fashion divas in the making and although Deena lives in WI, we simply MUST find a way to get these girls together someday!

Today Deena tagged me to fill out some questions about... ME.  And then I get to Tag others!  So... Jamey, Lindsey, and Kaysie- get ready!    Well... after reading mine, I guess.

What would your dream job be?
Easy. My dream job would be to be a big time voice actor.  I do a bit of this now (pretty small time- commercials, children's instructional CD's, even a few political ads for local politicians- I did a voice over for World Vision once!) and have even voiced a cartoon character in the video version of Max Lucado's "You Are Special."  But my dream job would be to get a big time gig- like the voice of Cit*bank or V*sa.  That way I would have steady (easy) work that I could record in my own studio and send in!  Being a D*sney voice would be fun too, and of course my kids would love that.  But those other jobs would be on-going and pay really well too!  So, why am I not pursuing this, you ask?  Well, I used to have my own little home studio set up here in my house where I could daily audition for voice gigs online... but adding my precious little girl to our lives has made room in our sweet little house hard to come by.  My studio turned into her bedroom and I haven't done much from home since.  Luckily I still get work in other studios.  It's all thanks to my Dad- I was lucky enough to inherit good voice genes from him.  :-)

Where would you like to live?
I lived in Indonesia for two years (teaching 3rd grade), and I have to say it's pretty close to paradise!  Tropical, beaches, beautiful deep blue coves, wonderful people, volcanoes to hike, (burned my foot in a volcano once... story for another time...), I'm sure it didn't hurt that I had a maid the whole time I lived there...  I like being where I am now b/c I am surrounded by such great friends, but if they would all move with me to Indonesia, I think we would all leave tomorrow!

In what century would you like to live?
I'm with Deena.  THIS century only.  I would be a terrible pioneer woman! (no offense to the famous blogger of that name)  I LOVE history.  I love to read about it, watch documentaries about it, go to museums and learn about it, think about and ponder it... I LOVE history!  But to LIVE it??? Oh, no.  Those people all needed deodorant and a toothbrush.  Give me modernity or give me death!

What would be your last meal?
I once went to one of those restaurants where you can cook your steak at your table on a hot stone (it was in Indonesia- maybe it wasn't ever a "thing" here?), and that steak was literally amazing.  I mean, it melted in my mouth.  I need you all to know that I am really trying hard not to start making sexual references to describe how great this steak was, but- yeah.  It was at THAT level.  Unreal.  So I'll have THAT steak again, please.  And a big, wonderful cream puff for dessert. (um, that sounds like a sexual reference, but it's not.) (i probably just lost all my readers, didn't i?)  A cream puff made by my friend Jewel who always makes them for my birthday.  'Cause she's wonderful like that.  But not as wonderful as that steak...

Why did you start this blog?
I started blogging b/c I love the creative outlet of writing.  I've never considered myself a great writer, but that's not really the point to blogging.  I love being able to share my life and make new friends and get advice... Parenting can sometimes be very isolating.  And blogging helps relieve some of that.  And this specific blog has documented our adoption journey- and I love that I can store these memories FOREVER by turning this blog into a book.  More info on that here.   Plus I LOVE all the bloggy friends I have made- they have added so much to my life!

Favorite piece of clothing?
Um... do yoga pants count?  If not, then I would have to go with THESE:
Because they are HOT.


Favorite film?
Just one???  Impossible.  Top 3:
1.  The Sound of Music
2.  Braveheart
3.  Star Wars (original Trilogy - NOT prequels!!!)

Seems like a random selection, but actually all these movies have a theme in common: the longed for, but unexpected adventure that falls upon you and ends up being the thing that MAKES your life. Oh, and angst.  Love me some angst.  I'm being totally serious.

What would you like to do before you turn 100?
There are lots of things I want to do:  travel more, raise my children to be good people who follow Jesus.  I want to learn more.  I love knowledge and I want to be a constant learner in this life.  I could list lots and lots more under this heading, but really, there is just one thing that I MUST do before I die.

There is a conversation that I need to have with a person who probably needs to have this same conversation with me.  And I hope that sometime in this lifetime we get to have that conversation.  I've tried... and it just led to more questions.  I guess now is not the time...  But sometime... we'll sort it all out.  Maybe.  I hope...  I really hope... 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who am I going to listen to?

Right after we brought Avé home I came across some blogs I had been unaware of before.  These blogs are written by adult adoptees and so of course I was very interested in what they had to say.  I dove in and spent hours at night reading these blogs and the blogs they linked, and then the blogs that those blogs linked... you know how that can go.  And although I gained some really great insight into adoption, it also left me with a very heavy heart.  More than just a heavy heart- a panicked heart.  A heart asking, "Oh. My. Gosh.  Have we just done a terrible thing???"  I was pretty freaked out there for a while.  The perspective that adult adoptees have is real and cannot be discounted.  But I discovered that most of these adult adoptees who blog are in the middle of processing their experience and sometimes that is raw and uncomfortable.  And that is okay.  It is their experience and they have every right to their feelings and to express them on the internet.


But.  But, but, but...


Every time I would read them I would start to feel sick at my stomach.  Uneasy.  I'm already an over-thinker by nature and these blogs, well, they just weren't doing me any good.  Yes, I gained some insight and perspectives that were interesting.  But every time I would shut my computer after too much time reading, I would hear a still, small voice asking me, "Who are you going to listen to?"  


I knew what He meant.  I knew it was God and He was asking me if I was going to listen to those voices or to HIS.  


See, our reasons for adopting were very simple.  I heard God's voice telling me to do it.  Years ago.  Like waaaaaaaay before Avé was ever born.  (You can read that story here.)  And so that means that not only was that God's plan for me, it also means that it was God's redemptive plan for HER.  


Is adoption a solution to the orphan crisis around the world?  Not even close.  Are there major reforms that MUST be made to make adoption ethical in every situation?  Yes, of course.  But when I read those "other" blogs I was always left feeling like adoption of any kind was questionable and that Avé would probably grow up resenting us for ruining her life by adopting her and  taking her away from her homeland.  (Again, these adult adoptees have every right to their feelings- it is their experience.  But the ones I read tend to generalize and make you feel like they are writing EVERY adoptee's experience.)  


So... I deleted all those blogs from my Google reader.  I am not invalidating their voice, I am simply saying that for me, for now, I need to listen to God's voice.  HIS plans are good and redemptive and I need to put my faith and my focus on THAT.  


And this blogger who I really admire and respect blogged about a similar subject yesterday in a post titled, "Do orphans need saving?"  And she linked a blogger who is working in Haiti; who is seeing the orphan crisis firsthand.  And these women confirmed it for me.  


Who am I going to listen to?  


I am going to listen to the lover of my soul.  I'm going to listen to the one whose plans are good and loving.  I'm going to listen to the one who told me to do this in the first place.  I'm going to listen to the one who adopted ME when I was unlovely and unworthy and unlovable.  I'm going to listen to the only one who can offer me or any of us REDEMPTION.


And that brings me peace.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This is just too good not to share. Again.

I used to blog on Xanga.  Back in the day.  You know.  Like, two years ago.  And I just discovered yesterday that my blog has not been deleted!  I just assumed when it was inactive for so long that it would disappear.  But there it is!  And now I really want to figure out how to save it and turn it into a book to preserve all those stories.  Precious stories- like the one about Jack's first day of Kindergarten when Ben and I were both depressed and I wept and kept the whole house dark for days.  Or the time when Ben was 2 and dressed in cowboy boots (at least 3 sizes too big), a very battered (read: beloved) cowboy hat, and a tea towel tied around his neck for a superman cape.  As we got out of the car I asked him, "Are you a cowboy or a superhero today?"  He replied, very seriously:  "I a pirate."

And then there's this video.  I thought this video was long lost, but I found it on this old blog!  And since there is no other record of it, I just used my flip to video the video!  Ben is probably about 3ish.  It's only 20 seconds and it's worth a watch!

video

And if anyone has any ideas about saving my Xanga blog, I'm all ears.

Ben Turned 7! (...like, seven weeks ago...)

Yes... I'm continuing the make-up posts.   This should do it.  I hope.  

There is a downside to having an August birthday when you live in Tulsa.  Anyone care to guess what that is???  It's a 4 letter word, I'm warning you.  That's right.  It's the

HEAT.  

Ben was born premature (just by 4 1/2 weeks) and he had to stay in the NICU for a week after I was released.  The day we could finally bring him home from the hospital it was (no lie!) 104 degrees.  For real.  I'm serious.   That is NOT an exaggeration or even a 'heat index' that makes it 'feel like' 104.  That was the actual temperature.  So when I walked into the NICU with his car seat and nothing else, I couldn't figure out why his sweet nurse nearly flipped out!  "Where is his blanket???"  she asked.  I replied, "Uh, it's 104 outside."  But she seriously couldn't imagine sending a baby out of the hospital w/o a blanket.  So she gave us one.  Welcome to the world, Sweet Ben!  It's freaking hot.

The upside to having an August birthday?  I have another 4 letter word to start this one off:

POOL PARTY!!!!

Here are some much-belated pix from his special day.  Actually special night.  Yeah.  It's just too hot to have a daytime birthday party in August.  Even at the pool.

Okay... how CUTE is this boy???
The cake was a pool.  With Jello in the middle.  And  Life Savers for, well, life savers.  And gummy bears swimming. And a stick of gum for a diving board.  And Chicklets for the tiles.  And will you think more highly of me if I tell you the boys did the decorating???  'Cause it was kinda a disaster.  But the kids loved to eat it!  I mean... a cake w/ gum on it AND jello??? How can you go wrong???  

Oh, except the back fell off of it about 15 minutes after we got it to the pool.  
But... it was dark.  See?  Broken cake and happy boys.  ;-)

Ben blew out the candles as soon as we started singing.
Yep.  That's Ben.
That's right Baz.  Show us what you got!
No idea what is happening here.  Really.  No idea.
And when your sister is *this* cute, you have to have a pic of her in your birthday post.
 It's just, like, a rule or something.  :-)

Selam! G'day! Hello!