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Friday, February 29, 2008

592 days

Almost 600 days ago, we began the process that would eventually, hopefully, by the will of God bring a new child into our lives.

Tonight, I rocked that child to sleep in my arms, the scent of his freshly washed hair in my nose and the feel of his cuddly baby body heavy on my chest.

"They" all said that when our child came home to us, we would feel like the wait was nothing ... that it had all but disappeared in the haze of adoption honeymoon.

"They" are right.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Crazy-making time

The next few weeks promise to be a time of near-hysteria. While I often seem to live right near the edge of what one woman can possibly accomplish in just 24 hours, I think I’m in for a ride that will leave me breathless.

Jo had her tonsillectomy yesterday. She has been in extreme pain, and is requiring far more one-on-one care than Logan did back when he had his done in October. Granted, it’s only been 28 hours since the surgery, but still ... it’s not looking good for the dream of a quiet, subdued child with a sore throat slurping ice cream and watching videos on the couch. I’ve spent the better part of today schlepping movies, ice water, ice cream, popsicles and pudding to wherever Jo is propped. The off-times are spent rocking her in our big blue chair, or holding her while she sobs in my bed. Maybe next week will be better. We shall see.

Tomorrow, of course, is O-day--Oliver-day, to the uninitiated. A good (single, childless) friend is coming to do the schlepping, rocking and holding while I drive down to pick up Oliver. While I wish that this would be a super happy homecoming day marked by balloons and a big old chocolate cake, I don’t see it happening. Best case scenario is me returning with Oliver and spending the rest of the day rocking TWO babies in the aforementioned blue chair.

But I’m o.k. with that.

The bigger challenge that I see up ahead is the month of March. Next week will be marked with at least two visits from social workers. That’s just a taste of what’s to come. At some point within the next 30 days, I have to get Oliver in for a medical evaluation (required by the state) and start setting up his therapies (definitely PT, probably OT). I also have to keep Jo moving in the direction of healing, and get her to her follow-up with the ENT.

Atticus and Logan have baseball starting sometime in March, too. And did I mention AWANA and 4-H? Then there’s homeschooling, of course.

And laundry. Don’t forget laundry, whatever you do.

While I’m sitting here wondering how I can keep all of the balls in the air, I keep reminding myself that there are tons of women out there who juggle a whole lot more and manage to keep it under control. I, after all, only have four children to worry about. And most of them are fairly self-sufficient little creatures. So what if we fall a little behind in housekeeping for a bit, right? During this season of growth and change, I’d much rather focus on enjoying the moments we’ve been given. The laundry can wait. I am going to savor every cuddle, enjoy every hug and sit on the floor surrounded by my children as much as possible. The to-do list can only steal my joy if I let it. And I choose not to.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tonsils, again

Jo is having her tonsils removed tomorrow. Any and all prayers coveted.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oliver


Jo has a thing for Dickens. I've tried to discourage it--I admit freely that I am not a fan--but it keeps cropping up like a bad penny. She has a few other annoying interests (such as the Newsboys and clip-on earrings) but all in all, she is doesn’t manifest too many of those things that make me want to pull my hair out. I mean really--if the worst your ten year-old does to get your goat is quote Dickens, I think things are going pretty well.

But this post isn’t about Jo. Not really.

Today was the day that our honeymoon with Little Man ended. After a leisurely morning of trying to figure out how to go about our normal Monday routine of stripping beds, getting new sheets on, finishing our other chores and still trying to enjoy the 14 month-old in our midst, we threw our hands up in the air and gave ourselves over to trying to elicit as many toothy baby grins as we could.

At about 10 a.m., I realized that if I wanted to squeak a shower in before driving down to the drop-off point, I’d better get to it. Taking a cue from Little Man’s fostermom, I plunked him in his crib with an assortment of toys and ran off to take the fastest shower I’ve ever managed. (YES, I used a baby monitor. RELAX.) When I returned precisely seven minutes later, I found Jo, Atticus and Logan dancing and singing in front of the crib, making Little Man so happy that he was literally banging the bars with joy.

“He’s loving whatever you’re doing, guys,” I pointed out.

“Of course,” Jo answered with one of her more dramatic bows. “We’re doing ‘Oliver!’”

Of course.

“Oliver!” (the musical adaptation of the Dicken’s classic Oliver Twist) was a library find about a year ago. I am going to be really honest and tell you that I turned the VHS box over so that Jo wouldn’t see it’s cover. I also tried to rush her past the entire section. But no. It caught her eye, and she asked to watch it, and the rest is history. I’ve been hearing “You’ve Got To Pick a Pocket or Two” at least weekly ever since.

Grrrr.

Little Man apparently found the entire catalog quite fascinating, which obviously warmed Jo’s heart to no end. I have a feeling I’m in for a lot more “It's a Fine Life” and other cloying tunes.

Anyhow, Jo went on to muse over how, in some ways, our Little Man has had the same rough start as Oliver. We haven’t hidden from our children the fact that the only reason that Little Man is with us in the first place is that his biological mommy and daddy made poor choices in taking care of him. We haven’t shared any details, but we want them to be prepared for the questions they will hear people asking. The sad truth of foster-adoption is that these kids are coming to you for a reason--usually a pretty ugly reason. Many of the children in fostercare tonight have lived through far worse than little Oliver in the Dickens story, and if Jo has decided that the song and dance routines of a 1968 musical represent her new foster-brother's first few months of life, I've not going to scare her with the much more brutal facts of the case.


The beauty of “Oliver Twist” is that Oliver finds a home. Granted, it’s a soft-focus, neatly tied-up ending of a home where he’s rich and beautiful and nothing is ever wrong again. While I don’t buy into all of that, I do very much believe in this: the home that Oliver finds himself in is the one that he was meant to have all along. It was a circuitous route that led him there, but he landed exactly where God intended.

And that’s what I’m thinking about Little Man. He’s coming back to us for good on Friday. Well, at least we think it’s for good. Foster-adoption is never 100%, don’t forget. But it is still very much subject to God’s will ... and that’s 100% accurate at all times. So even if Little Man is not ours forever, we have to trust that, like Oliver, he’s going to wind up exactly where God wants him.

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to call our new little one Oliver for the intents and purposes of this blog. Because we’re praying that at the end of this journey, when the gavel bangs, our little Oliver will be sharing our last name.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Things I remember now


Logan is closing in on six years old, so it's been a while since I've done this baby thing. But here's a short list of the things Little Man has reminded me of this weekend:

  • Typing one-handed is an entirely separate skill.
  • Babies actually can cry with pacifiers in their mouths.
  • There is nothing softer than a baby's cheek.
  • Baths each night are mandatory when you're feeding messy dinners to the under-2 set.
  • Goodnight Moon is always a hit.
  • There's a reason that 5 p.m. is known as the witching hour ... and a reason why I used to pop in a thirty minute video at about 5 p.m. every night. :-)
  • Snacks, people. Snacks are GOOD.
  • Smiles you have to work for are the sweetest kind.
  • Reading to tactile one year-olds is nothing like reading to a group of kids gathered around a Dover coloring book.
  • Dogs are the most entertaining things in the world. Period.
  • I love rocking babies. Love the shift in their weight as they fall asleep in my arms. Love the way that they sigh and finally let go, giving themselves over to much-needed rest.

And that's just a start. The weekend has gone exceptionally well. We return Little Man to his fostermom tomorrow (Monday). Thanks for continued prayers are we let him go tomorrow, and await his return next weekend.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tomorrow's the day

We pick up Little Man at noon PST. The kids are so excited they can barely contain themselves. I can barely contain myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Transition

Here's the thing--no one tells you when you strap in for the crazy ride they call foster-adoption that some of those turns are going to knock you blindsided. No one tells you how steep the hills are. No one tells you the height of the peaks or the depths of the plummets.

No one tell you because frankly, no one's experience is exactly the same.

I've been going over this in my sleep-deprived, cold-addled mind and have realized that the first-person experience of foster-adoption is by no means a one-size-fits-all enterprise. Not that any adoption is, really. Each one has it's own storyline that plays itself out over time. But the whole radical "who knows what's going to happen" of foster-adoption seems unique when compared to the checklist dossier preparation and "you've been matched!" process of many international adoptions.

For us, what we asked for is certainly not what God had for us. Remember my plan? Hispanic siblings, preferably a preschooler and older toddler. But what's this? A 14 month-old Caucasian boy? Yep, that sounds about right.

Left to my own devices, my own plan, I would have missed the blessing that God was waiting to hand us. Foster-adoption leaves that door pretty wide open for you. You have to listen--and listen hard--in order to hear the voice that leads you to your child.

I didn't post about meeting Little Man, primarily because I left that initial get-together with a sinking feeling so palpable in my chest that I wished I could literally peel it away. See, my picture of my future child (children, actually) was that we would somehow be the first home where they were genuinely, deeply loved. And so clearly, this was not the case. A true battle erupted in my heart the moment that I asked the fostermother if I could hold Little Man. I saw the look in her eye, and I knew it instantly. It's the look that says, "Well, o.k. But are you worthy of holding this child? Because when I hold him, my whole heart goes into it. And you ... well, I bet you're just going to hold him."

If you have children--bio, adopted, step, whatever--you know what I'm talking about. There is a certain amount of healthy suspicion that we hold in our hearts in regards to others interacting with our children. And this momma had it.

In other words, this was her boy.

I didn't go into foster-adoption with the desire of adopting someone else's child. I went into it looking for my child, our child, the one that God placed here, knowing that we would find him or her or them there.

But what do you do when that child already has a momma? A family? Is loved?

I am so shocked and humbled by the fostermom's decision to let us adopt Little Man that I can barely get my head around it. I am pretty certain that I could do that--that I would be the mother in Africa begging the family next door to please, please raise my child so that he might live. But oh, the cost. Think about it too hard and you feel the bile rise in your chest. A choice like that should never, ever have to be made.

You know that saying? "Being a mother is like choosing to live the rest of your life with your heart walking around outside of your body"? Well, this dear woman just chose to send her heart far from her body, from her table, from her love. The cost? I can't imagine.

Little Man was adorable at our first meeting. His hair is thick and fine and fully brown as if it's already made up its mind that messing around with highlights is a useless endeavor. His eyes were a bit wiser than your average 14 month-old. He was wearing some discount store jeans and a screen-printed sweatshirt that did nothing for his complexion. And he was happy. Smiley, interacting, content to crawl around and explore ... loved.

I wanted to make sure that I'd always remember that day. I took great pains to remember every detail, no matter how flustered I was that this. was. it. And my memories are holding--I can picture him chomping on a goldfish cracker, and grabbing for my necklace and trying to figure out how to get from one part of the play structure to another.

But the thing I know I'm always going to remember is the look in the fostermom's eyes when she let me hold her baby. There was so much bound up in that, so much to live up to. And she thinks we meet the muster. Amazing.

Saturday afternoon, I will go back to the same spot to meet Little Man again. This time, I will go prepared with a stroller or a carrier, and a diaper bag of my own. I won't have to cast around, trying to pick out who he might be. His face is already a part of the backdrop of my mind. The whole clan is coming; the kids will meet their new little brother for the first time. We'll start the process formally known as "transition." And from this moment on, our family will never be the same.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Latest

Fostermom says that she thinks Baby Boy will be much better off in our family--namely, with a Momma and a Daddy, with Christians, with homeschoolers (suddenly it's a selling point? Who knew?!?!), with folks who have a steady marriage and a solid support group.

We pick him up for a transitional visit on Saturday.

Please be in prayer for fostermom A. To realize that she can not offer these things means that she senses the lack in her own life.

So THAT'S the problem!

I realized yesterday afternoon--after a full day of the blahs--that I was coming down with what promised to be a wicked cold. No to be underestimated, this beastly little virus ramped up just in time for bed, when it effectively clogged my nose and throat and began the night-long process of denying me adequate rest. ((sigh))

So that's why I'm so tired!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tired/Sunshine

I'm really, really tired. I think that all of the emotion of last week, combined with some crazy busy-ness this weekend, has worked together to throw me completely for a loop. I struggle with lagging energy in general, but can usually keep my head above water. I've done so well this winter. I hate to start slipping now, when spring is only two and half months away. (I live in WA, where "spring" is a relative term that is used to describe not only the state of growth in plants, but also the stop of the rainy season.)

We managed to crash out a bit of school today, but my heart was not 100% in it. The sun is shining and the kids are restless. I have a feeling that the very best things they are going to learn today involve sticks and dirt, not books and pencils.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Let me sum up

There is no eloquence left in me at the moment.

The meeting went well. The little boy is adorable. We'd take him in a heartbeat. Chances are good that we won't get the chance, though. His foster mom (a relative) adores him, and is hoping to find a way to adopt him herself.

He is well loved.

Our hearts are broken, and our hopes had been so high. We want what’s best for this little guy, though. That’s the most important part of this whole process; that he be well loved and cared for. And if he doesn’t need us, someone else does. God will lead the way.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

World War Won't

We are studying World War I right now. I have checked the SL schedule, and I think we're here for, I don't know, a zillion weeks. At least, that's how it feels to me. Jo is none too thrilled, either. Our first day of reading our first history book on the topic found us squinting at a grainy, black and white photo that looked something like this:


"What's that... spraying?" Jo asked, poking her nose a little closer to the page.

"Liquid fire," Atticus answered. "The Germans used butane--"

Logan horned his way over the page in awe. "THAT'S a flamethrower?"

Dreamily, Atticus replied, "Oh, yeah."

Conjuring one of her trademarked, pre-teen-girl-in-disgust looks, Jo ventured, "And what are they
flaming?"

"People. You just can't see them because of the smoke," was the answer Atticus offered.

And that was the end of WWI as far as Jo was concerned. There are some things that are incorrigible, but tolerable in her book. Burning people in trenches is most certainly not one of them. She'd much rather stick a daisy in the rifle butt of a "Hun" than singe his sauerkraut. And she's had absolutely no problem letting the rest of us know about it every afternoon as we crack the cover of the book.

Now, up until the liquid fire revelation, this period of history was still all heroism and romance as far as Jo was concerned. The idea of dashing young men flying bi-planes in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower had somehow set itself up in her mind. With scenes of Uncle Sam and propaganda leaflets dancing in her head, she had seemingly forgotten the limbless, haggard soldiers limping home after the Civil War. Or maybe she just didn't put two and two together; the truth is, world-wide wars rate much better spin doctors than civil wars any day. World wars, after all, get
posters (and airbrushed saints called up to active duty):



I guess I could be pondering what, exactly, about the idea of burning an enemy alive in a muddy pit seems so appealing to my otherwise civilized little men. But instead, I find myself fixated on the fact that Jo--smart, thoughtful, follows themes to their logical conclusion Jo-- had somehow bought into the idea of US and THEM based mostly on a book about the Red Cross, a few Memorial Day parades and a handful of photos of aforementioned dashing young men piloting charming, antiquated bi-planes. It's amazing, really, the power that propaganda has even now, closing in on a hundred years after the fact.

We'll continue to trudge through the war, focusing mostly (to the chagrin of the boys) on the economic and societal ramifications of such a global conflict. I have a variety of wonderful resources at my disposal that will help to satisfy some of the testosterone-fueled hunger for a body count (including a very truthful, yet non-gory book from Usborne that I highly recommend). I expect that the weeks spent will feel like years to some of us and days to others. But in the end, we'll all come out wiser for the experience. Maybe, just maybe, Atticus and Logan will learn that designing elaborate devices to engulf one's enemy in fire is nowhere near as useful to society as building a good, strong bridge. And maybe Jo will learn an equally valuable lesson: be leery of men in flight goggles and crisp white scarves. They may very well be holding an incendiary device behind their back.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Support

A little over two years ago, fed up with having the same conversation with a myriad people over the course of a week, I staged a small "homeschool open house" in my living room. The idea was simply that interested parties could paw through my resources, comb my bookshelves and copy down catalog names all at one time, therefore sparing me from answering the following questions every time I opened my front door:

  • Do you homeschool all of your kids? (Yes--but I only have three of them. I know folks who homeschool a houseful, and those who homeschool their onlies.)
  • What curriculum do you use? (Sonlight)
  • What do you use for Language Arts? (Depends on the age and the child.)
  • What do you use for math? (Mostly Math-U-See, but see answer above.)
  • How do you do science experiments at home? (Very carefully.)
  • What activities do your kids participate in? (Depends on the child and the season.)
  • How do you teach a child to read? (The same way you teach them to walk--by example, then through experience.)
  • What’s your favorite resource for (fill in the blank)? (Depends on what said blank is filled with.)
  • Where do you buy (fill in the blank)? (See answer above.)
  • How do you like (fill in the blank)? (Ditto.)
  • What do you do when you don’t know how to teach something? (I learn.)


These conversations seemed to naturally develop every time I opened my mouth in public. While I ran into my share of horrified onlookers, I found that the vast majority of people asking about homeschooling were genuinely curious. A small portion was even interested enough to ask if we could get together and talk about the topic. It was those people that I invited to my open house.

Our first gathering was, if memory serves, five women crouching around my coffee table scoping out catalogs and firing off questions that I could sometimes answer, and sometimes not. After that initial meeting, I hosted two or three more such super-informal nights of homeschooling info. After each one, it seemed a new convert to the adventure was won. I was elated.

Over time, it became obvious that these people I had begun the work of mentoring in needed a bit more regular support. Again, it was easier to just keep inviting them all together rather than have coffee with each one of them on a monthly basis. I like coffee as well as the next girl, but I don’t think Mr. MG would be thrilled to be donating so much $$ to the cause of Starbuck’s global takeover process. We began meeting bi-montly, rotating locations between the homes of attendees and bringing snacks. It was a humble beginning, but a beginning nonetheless.

The group has grown by leaps and bounds. What started as “my” little support network has expanded to include other experienced homeschoolers, plenty of newbies, and families totalling approximately 37 children. We meet monthly, and are in the process of putting together our first official schedule of speakers and topics. Several members have asked repeatedly for a group-sanctioned co-op morning. Meaningful connections are being made between like-minded women.

We are still at the point where a meeting might well mean three women gathering over brownies and coffee (that was November) or eight moms sitting on my family room floor (that was December), but all the same, I am blessed to see this thing moving well beyond me and becoming a lifeline for those who need support.

To those of you who eschew the group setting in seeking encouragement for your homeschooling journey, let me say that I am not typically someone who seeks out companions to travel with. If the Lord had told me to go and join a support group for homeschoolers, I would have kicked and screamed and put Jonah to shame with my bullheadedness. Knowing this streak in me, He instead led me to a place where a group formed around me and robbed me of any excuse to run. I am so grateful He did.

I have been humbled and honored to read some of the responses I am receiving from a survey I sent out asking questions designed to shape our group into something that best meets the needs of its members. Several people have commented on how we have been instrumental in keeping them afloat during rocky periods in their homeschool, or how a resource mentioned at a meeting was perfect for them, or how they look forward to the encouragement they receive on that night more than anything else in their week. God’s hand seems so present to me when I read these responses; this isn’t the work of one woman alone, or even of a group of well-meaning women. It’s the long, cool drink of water that comes from the Lord--refreshing us through fellowship with the friends He has set on our path.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What if

The weekend was exactly what you would expect it to be--normal, everyday life punctuated by moments of realization that somewhere in the state, a little boy is sleeping, or eating, or playing ... and he will someday call us his family.

We will meet him (and his foster mom) on Thursday. Our social worker will be along for the ride, just to make sure that everything is kosher. I spoke to the foster mother (who is related biologically to the boy) on the phone twice last Friday and I think I have a better picture of who she is and why she is not moving to adopt Baby Boy on her own. She had wonderful things to say about him, and will clearly miss him. She liked the conversation with me enough to call her social worker and give the go ahead on Friday, and that about makes her my new best friend.

Our first meeting is planned for a public gathering spot. I wonder, will the people around us sense the gravity of the moment taking place right next to them? What will they think if I am crying as hard as I think I will? Will I even remember anything about this day, or will it instead be seared into my mind as clearly as the moment I first saw each of my other children?

Going about the business of normalcy is somewhat surreal. I have the same lingering sense of expectation hanging over me that I felt during the last days of my pregnancy with Jo, who was a scheduled induction. I had a date upon which I would have a baby in my arms--a date after which things would change forever. To plan ahead to the days or weeks afterward was just not possible because, after that date, nothing was the known quantity.

That is exactly how I feel right now. A friend just emailed to arrange a playdate between our children. On Wednesday of last week--the last time I spoke with her--I'd said this Friday looked open. Today I had to email her and say, "Well, it might be. But it might not be. I don't know. And frankly, if we don't do it this week, I have no idea when we will do it. How's Wednesday looking for you?"

I am making a grocery list this afternoon. Do I plan for some freeze-ahead meals, just in case?

Jo has 4-H clinic on Saturday. Could I possibly be taking a toddler along with me?


I am cautiously eying toddler gear and putting plans into motion. A small element of my heart is honestly afraid to fling myself completely into a child I have not yet met. What if the social worker changes her mind? What if the foster mother changes her mind? What if a judge somewhere hates us? What if--?

What if.

This whole process is laced with what ifs. Those possibilities were painstakingly laid out for us by our agency during the hours and hours of training and classes we endured just to get to the point of beginning our homestudy. We are aware of the risks, and we decided 574 days ago that those risks were worth taking. The truth is that no adoption--domestic or international, I hate to tell you--is without risks. We know that firsthand. We also know that no pregnancy is without risks. What is it--something like 50% of pregnancies supposedly end in miscarriage? Talk about risk!

I am counting down the hours, but trying to preserve status quo for Jo, Atticus and Logan. We let them in on the news and were delighted by their excitement. Jo is anxious about the whole thing I suspect; at 10, she is all to aware of the what ifs that surround the prospect of adding to your family. Atticus is seemingly oblivious, popping in on occasion with a question or comment, but otherwise nonchalant. Logan has been typically Logan. The meeting isn't until Thursday. I told him I would come back with reports and photos, and that's good enough for him. He'll just wait until Thursday to make any judgments either way. Until then, all three of them are in need of a mommy who is present in the moment and not daydreaming about the future, nor dwelling on the what ifs.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tears of praise

Social worker just called and said:
...we were chosen.

Thanks and praise to the Lord!!!

Pinch me

Things are looking very good in regards to Baby Boy.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14

Thursday, February 7, 2008

2 calls in 3 days

Call from social worker yesterday evening: 13 month old boy. 6 months to TPR, mild legal risk.

Pray for us. I don't know why, but my heart beats a little harder just typing this out.

Wisdom

I'm off to have an oral surgeon peer into my mouth and assess the damage that is my wisdom teeth. He will hopefully pull at least one; I'd really like him to do all three (I had one pulled about 6 years ago) but apparently I need to have a full-blown consultation for the ones on the bottom, rather than just an appointed time to meet, greet, sedate and yank.

I am looking forward to some nitrus-induced oblivion rather than white-knuckled endurance in the dentist chair. Pray for steady hands!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Too much of a good thing

I've been toying with a more structured approach to our days for a little while. Not that I want it, mind you.

I've tried in the past to wrestle our schedule in to some semblance of an order, but can never stay on it for long. The fact of the matter is, I am absolutely loathe to interrupt one good thing for another, and that's exactly what a schedule generally feels like to me. Example: you have set aside forty-five minutes for an art activity. That three-quarters of an hour has passed, but everyone is still happily working away. What to do? The schedule says that now it's time to move on to something else--
something just as worthy of your time, mind you. Do you throw caution to the wind and stick with the successful art experience, or abandon ship and move on?

I'm a stay-with-what-works kind of girl. In general, my kids are as well. They also have devised frighteningly inventive and imaginative ways to occupy themselves--ways that keep them solidly from underfoot and meaningfully engaged in one of the pastimes I value most in children: play.

But it's the "keeping them from underfoot" part that I find myself taking a bit of advantage of. Do you have any idea how freeing it is for a writer who has fought tooth and nail for a mere thirty minutes at the keyboard for the past decade of her life to suddenly find herself with entire afternoons stretching before her?

"Is this even possible?" you ask yourself. The answer, in my house, is
yes.

I have found as of late that my children have begun--over the course of the past year, I realized belatedly--to go from their required afternoon rest period of an hour and an half into a long stint of sustained, quiet, away-from-mommy play. Writing and performing plays. Building elaborate villages from Lincoln Logs and reenacting key battles in the Civil War. Setting up extensive veterinary clinics and treating a variety of stuffed animals. Reading aloud to one another.

Sounds like heaven, doesn't it?

Well, it is. Kind of. Except ...

That's not what I want.

While I love, love,
love my afternoon writing time, I do not want to have it at the expense of my children. An hour and a half, I think, it in no way afflicting my 10, 7 and 5 year olds. They are happily curled up in their respective beds, reading, listening to books on tape, coloring or otherwise entertaining themselves. This, I believe, is a good thing. A respite from the day's busyness. A rest time in the truest sense.

But the extended period ... I don't know if that is something that I want to make a habit. A few times a week, yes, it's lovely. But what about all the books we aren't reading? The games we aren't playing? The cookies we're not baking? The times I could be pouring into their hearts, or them into mine ... they are passing me by as I sit in front of the computer and pound out stories.

I never thought I'd say this, but here it is:

I don't want my children to be quite so comfortable with me being unavailable.

And that's where this whole scheduling thing comes in. I'm making a concerted effort to stick more closely to the priorities that I have set in my heart and mind when it comes to how I spend my time. Being with my children--present physically, emotionally and spiritually--is one of them. It's a sad statement that I have to mark a starting and ending time to a good thing (me writing) to make way for another good thing (time with my family). But apparently, I do need that discipline after all.

Not ours

I spoke with the placement coordinator and started asking the ten zillion questions we came up with. Upshot: We will not be pursuing the adoption of the two children I mentioned. After learning more about them, we decided that our family did not have the resources to truly meet the needs of these children. Thankfully, another family with our agency does have a strong background in that area. If we hadn't asked a specific question, no one would have been the wiser--that's the downside of paperwork. What you see isn't always what you get. Usually, of course, it's the children who get slighted in that kind of a deal. Pray that the family I mentioned is successful in bringing these kids home.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

They're on the job

Just a few weeks in to the transition between the two agencies ... and we got our first call!

I really like the new placement coordinator (very important), and I feel like working with her will be a pretty good arrangement. She's the one who sighs every time she realizes how long we've been licensed and waiting. How can I not like her? :-)

This particular call was regarding a sibling set--boy, just turned 4 and a girl, who is either 2 or 3 (the birthyear listed may be incorrect). The children are AA, TPR has already been filed and bio dad has relinquished. The kids are currently in a relative placement that has to end by March 14.

I don't know if these are our kids or not. Honestly, the Lord hasn't really given me an indication in either direction. I am praying, praying and trying hard to listen for His voice. I don't have the pitter-patter in my heart that I have had in previous cases. Is that just me being jaded? I really don't know. I am straining, leaning in ... waiting on the Lord.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hamlet 2

This is the upside of taking a completely unplanned semi-break from school:

I was the lone audience member this morning in a presentation of a world-premiere production of "Hamlet 2." Jo, seeing a door perhaps left open by Shakespeare at the close of "Hamlet," took it upon herself to add a second installment. In this chapter, Hamlet was actually not killed, but merely
mostly dead at the end of the last scene. He is pulled back from the edge of death by the ghost of his father, hidden away, and nursed back to strength.

Prince Fortinbras discovers that Hamlet's demise has been greatly exaggerated, and decides to take up arms in an attempt to secure the throne in case Hamlet returns.

Which, of course, he does.

A bloody battle, replete with Shakespearian comedy, ensues. At the close, once again, Hamlet lies at death's door, whispering to dear Horatio. This time, however, Hamlet bequeaths the kingdom to Horatio before breathing what one can only hope is, indeed, his last breath.

When interviewed, the writer/director acknowledged that she felt the burden of history in even approaching such a weighty and well-regarded title.

"That's why Hamlet had to die at the end," she admitted. Apparently, anything less would have been sacrilege.

My apologies to the Bard, and my thanks to the G. family for their wonderful gift of this book, which taught my children a whole lot more than I did today. :-)