Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You Know You're a Mom When...

I was hiding eggs for an Easter egg hunt and I stood back to admire my work, put my hands on my hips, and then was like, "What the...?" as I slowly reached around to my butt and found a baby bib stuck to it.

Being half asleep at work, daydreaming about my newborn at home, and thinking, "Mmmm... I can almost smell his sweet baby smell right now..." Only to realize it's because 1) there's a spit-up stain right there on my shoulder in smelling distance and 2) there's a pacifier in my pocket.

My "omg I'm so deliriously sleepy" face.

He's so worth it, though.

My boys!





Friday, April 10, 2015

Sometimes I Break

Write a blog post inspired by the word: break.

There's lots of directions I could've taken that writing prompt, ha. But I'm gonna write about Superbowl Sunday this year and how I totally had a breakdown emotionally (and not because the Seahawks lost...lol).

I had a moment of panic a couple weeks before Shak was born... on Superbowl Sunday. Today, we finalized his adoption (YAY!!!) and looking back... everything went as smoothly as it could have, really. I kept waiting for something bad to happen, but it didn't. In the moment though... there were SO many possible things that could go wrong that I got overwhelmed. There were a lot of things to stress about and they all kind of converged on my mind at once...
  • Orchestrating an adoption with an agency halfway across the country that we've never worked with before = stressful. 
  • Flashbacks of taking a similar adoption roadtrip that ended with us coming home empty-handed = stressful. I wrote in my journal: "Hopefully we're not being dummy dumb dumbs by driving 15 hours to Kansas..."
  • Packing and preparing to travel in general and making sure we had everything we needed and were prepared = stressful.
  • Taking leave off from work when it's not really a job that my boss can get a temp for and feeling needed there = stressful.
  • Worried we wouldn't time it right and would miss the birth or go out there way too early = stressful for this planner personality right here!
  • Figuring out how to pull $20,000+ out of basically nowhere (I almost said "out of my butt," but that sounded gross) = stressful. 
  • Having to coordinate LDS Family Services (our original homestudy agency), Utah Adoption Specialists (who took over our homestudy after LDSFS got out of the adoption gig), Adoption Advertising (a random facilitator who got a big chunk of money for really no good reason), Adoption Connections (the Kansas agency and attorney), and our references who needed to turn in reference letters ASAP! = stressful. 
  • Reading reviews about how unorganized Adoption Connections can be... and then seeing that firsthand = stressful.
  • Not meeting S beforehand and thinking ahead to meeting her and how that would go = stressful.
  • Developing a relationship with expectant mom S while wondering if we could really trust ANYONE EVER AGAIN! I wrote in my journal: "I think at this point I'm just holding my breath until Shakir is born."
  • Zay had been calm and positive about this experience... and then the day I needed him to tell me everything was going to be okay, he admitted he was worried that I was going to be crushed again if this falls through and he questioned if we should really be doing this again... ugh = stressful.
  • Trying to do a Paleo diet while I'm stressed = MORE stressful. I wanted ALL THE CARBS.
  • Thinking ahead about actually taking care of two kids while working and Zay's in school... just all the logistics of how that was going to work out and how to prepare for that = stressful.
  • Wondering if I even deserved any blessings at this point in my life = stressful.

Sooo... even though for the most part I was just happy and excited to be a mom again and knew in my heart that this was the one we were supposed to pursue... it all hit me at once and I felt like I was hyperventilating. I burst into tears in the middle of Church and the Bishop's wife was trying to comfort me and I was a MESS. Ugh. I was blubbering and I remember asking if I was making any sense and she just said, "Well... no." Ha ha. But she said some things that really helped! There was just so much going on...

I was talking to a friend a little while back who was insisting I have a fundraiser AND a baby shower, even though I felt like I deserved NEITHER. She basically made me out to be a Saint and I needed some Karma to come back around to me (which made me feel super uncomfortable and made me blush!!) for how I interact with expectant moms and how I keep it together and think about the big picture and try to always put them first, despite what I want. She's an adoptive mom too, so we shared a lot of our experiences with each other. I love hearing adoption stories. I don't know how well I do it here on my blog, but in real life I'm a story-teller... so I was talking about this-that-and-the-other-thing that we've been through and my friend's just like, "You should write a book!" Ha ha. And kept encouraging me to do a fund-raiser for this adoption. I finally agreed that we'd have a "welcome home" baby shower sometime in March (I'm ALL about throwing a PARTY! ha ha... and that ended up turning out so well!), but I didn't know about this whole fundraiser thing. The thought made me cringe. But... as much as I wanted to adopt, we didn't have all the funds right that second. We used up our savings and got an adoption loan for the rest. And I didn't actually set the fundraiser up until after we brought Shak home. So, at the moment... I was stressing about the money.

I started beating myself up about whether I deserved any of this. I kept thinking, "I'm getting another son!!!" Hello?! How can I ask for anything more than that? That is the miracle I've been hoping and praying for ... for what has felt like an eternity, but has really only been a couple of years of waiting. See? I'm a whiny brat. I'm impatient. I complain. I'm not a Saint. I don't have a sob story. I'm just a mom. Just a regular ole person. I just wanted a sibling for Kal. I just wanted another child. That is all. And it was finally happening. I was stressed because I thought I didn't deserve it!

Kal & my sister-in-law. This boy's too social to be an only child!

Just talking with S and getting to know her over those few months was enough to be overwhelming and make me burst into tears. We talked a lot... mostly texting since I was at work and it was just easier. She's so funny. And easy to talk to. We just talked about what we were doing for fun. She was bored out of her mind living at the agency's housing. She asked if we'd be bringing Kal with us when we came so he could play with her kids. I told her to think of fun stuff we could do when we got there. She said anything that would make her go into labor!! She was so done with the pregnancy at that point and had tried all the tricks in the book to get labor going. She just wished we were there already. She's so sweet. We talked about baby names. She loved Shakir. We talked about her religion and common names in our families. Some funny coincidences. Things that confirmed in my mind that THIS IS IT. When it's right, it's right.
 
With the failed adoptions behind me... thinking back, it's like I was in abusive relationships and then when I finally think maybe I can love again... HERE IT IS. This is what I wanted. I didn't know what I wanted until I felt it. A completely open adoption. No funny business. I don't worry whether she likes us or not. She's not hard to get a hold of. We have commonalities that are important to us. She is comfortable with us and isn't afraid to share information. She has ideas for her future and is excited to be a part of making our family grow. OMG. I worried about being excited. It felt so right, how could I not be excited??! But should we be??? I started panicking that it would all be pulled out from under us.

I was also overwhelmed with how much I was in love with this little boy. That deserved some tears as well. Look at this face! I love his little nose and lips. Just gorgeous. I couldn't wait to meet him. I worried I was getting "too" emotionally invested.


I found a babysitter for Shak who would watch him during Zay's classes once we brought him back home. It was a relief. I cried about that. I was spending a lot of energy tying up loose ends with paperwork, squeezing in hair appointments for everyone who wanted one before we left, helping plan for the Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet that was coming up, cleaning out the van, putting together the changing table, etc. Funnily, Zay had taken a picture of me all intensely trying to put that changing table together... and sent it to S. She was laughing at me! She said, "Go ahead, girl!" Ha ha ha. Dangit yall, I'm stressed! Don't laugh!! I'm just trying to get shiz done!! That's what I was thinking. Ha.

What I look like when I get *really* into my project.

At Cub Scouts one night. He likes pretending to be one of the big kids. :)

Anyways, so I had a meltdown. Couldn't stop crying. All my fears about adoption and the pain of infertility just came roaring back out of nowhere and I felt like I was crying so much that I was going to melt into a puddle on the floor. Of course it was Sunday and I was at Church and every testimony and every lesson got to me. The smallest thing and tears were falling again! I just couldn't make it stop. I thought, "It's February already. This baby is coming. Is he really going to be mine? Will I really get to be his everyday mother? Am I being dumb for getting excited?" Life would've gone on if this hadn't worked out. But it would've been a sad, sad life for awhile. And I would have had to swallow that disappointment down and find a way to keep pressing on with hope. All the fear I felt right then had suddenly driven out a lot of that hope that had been building. I kept telling myself to move forward with faith.

So, I cried. I felt beat up for a second. I told myself to GET IT TOGETHER. I couldn't go meet S and blubber and act like my life depended on this adoption working out and be an emotional wreck when I'm supposed to be the one who has her life together! I'm supposed to be the mom here. Get it together! And... I did. And everything worked out. But for a moment there, I did break.

So, we had our normal Superbowl party that day:



It was fun. :)  A few days later, I dealt with my stress by:

Chopping off my hair.

And playing with a friend and her kids. Tee hee.

These guys are best buddies, but I'm sure they were all fighting over the same toy in this moment. Ha.




Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday: A Year Ago

Writing prompt: Throwback Thursday

Today I'm looking back at last April, because it feels like ages ago and so much feels different now.

Looking back... I was reeling from a second failed adoption match. I needed a big change, a distraction, something to fill that ever-growing desire to expand my family and find Baby #2. I wanted to run away. I wanted to go back home to Georgia and have my Mama take care of me, lol. Super homesick. We made a 1-year-plan to leave Utah and all we've known the first 10 years of our marriage behind and start a new adventure somewhere else. Be around family again. Feel that comfort.

I realized I was in no emotional state to take care of our pets, so I found them a new home. That opened up possibilities for our living situation (soooo many places don't allow pets and we've lived in some crappy/depressing places just because they allowed our kitties). Last April, we found a much nicer place to move to and we got to packing (sometimes that helps to scratch that wanting-to-move-far-far-away itch that I get).

Fertility treatments had cropped back up in my life and I began writing about that again last April. We were seriously considering for most of 2014 that we needed to get back in that game. It never felt completely right, but I needed to be doing SOMETHING other than just waiting around. It made me feel somewhat productive, even though it didn't amount to anything as far as helping me get pregnant at all.

It's always a battle now to accept my infertility and that I can't have as much control as I wish I did. The last 7 years have largely been spent trying to find my family and piece it together and wishing I didn't have to try so hard. Part of me wishes I knew what I know now when we were first married, back in 2004... so that I could've done something about it earlier. And part of me is grateful I spent those first 4 years of our marriage completely oblivious to the fact that something really was wrong.

It would be so nice if this didn't consume so much of my life right now. If I could move forward and say 100% that my family is complete and I can move on to other things. Last April, I didn't think that was possible... I agonized over it all. Today, just a year later... I am in a completely different headspace. I know we're going to be just fine and our children WILL come to us and it's not something that needs to be agonized over anymore. Things weave together the way they should. Two of my babies are home and more will be coming in time.

Shak brought a whole lot of peace with him. And a view of a bigger picture. I was soooo worried that we would never find Baby #2. Terrified that it wouldn't happen. Searching and searching with no apparent direction... but that's exactly how we found him. We would've never worked with the agency we used for his adoption if it hadn't happened the way it did... the series of events leading up to Baby #2 pushed me to network like crazy and learn all I could about private adoption and lawyers, facilitators, agencies, the adoption laws of various states. I submersed myself in learning all that I could and talking to as many expectant moms considering adoption as possible. I listed our profile on every adoption profile site I could find that wouldn't break the bank (some are like $200 a month, but several are free). I scanned through available adoption situations on various sharing groups/sites/blogs, whatever. And then... there he was. I wouldn't have found him any other way. I had to be stretched. That time between Kal and Shak was necessary. I know how to navigate the adoption world much better than I did even a year ago. And now that he's here... the relief is amazing.

I appreciate my family so much more. We got lucky with Kal. We had to work hard for Shak. That experience was necessary... I can see that now.

We are no longer sticking to that 1-year-plan to move to Georgia. We still have a few things to do here first.

Random pictures from last April:
Look how young he looked! I remember those days... back when he still used to take a nap, ha ha.

Last Easter, throwing the football in the yard/street with friends.

Spending so much time with my little buddy...


Now I have two little munchkins to wrestle and blessings are abounding, so I have no worries about the future and no concern about future babies. I'm busy building a home with the ones I've got until they all make their way home to me. (Zay says he wants enough boys to have a basketball team. :) Only 3 more to go then! ha ha ha)

One year later... Man, I LOVE THESE BOYS!





Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What's for Dinner?

What’s for dinner?

I found this blog recently (Living Well Spending Less) and have really been wanting to try making freezer meals and using my crock pot a lot more, so I've been inspired to try again and really give it a shot at catching on around here. Zay is awesome at cooking dinner for me, but it's exhausting to do it every night and sometimes we just find ourselves eating cereal instead. Laaame. Or caving and eating fast food. Blech. So we're going to try to have a "food prep day" every two weeks and make 10 freezer meals. That way all we have to do 10 days outta 14 is to take a bag out of the freezer and throw it in the crock pot sometime early in the day and it'll be ready when I get home from work. Whoo hoo!


I'm all about easy step-by-step instructions, so I don't screw things up. And we're all about convenience these days because our lives are so busy. I think the most important part of the day is dinnertime with the fam, so I'm trying to make it happen every single night. Sitting around that table and talking and eating is vital. If that's gonna happen, we need an easier way to go about it. I think this will really work for us if we just get into a good routine with it.

So, tonight is grocery shopping (that I didn't get done on Sat) and food prep day, so we can eat less stress-fully the next couple of weeks. Now that we're a family of four, things need to get a little more efficient around here! Dinner tonight we'll be using up some leftovers in the fridge to make room for the new groceries. But dinner tomorrow will be one of the freezer meals we put together tonight. I'm actually excited about this! Lol.

I'm totally printing THESE out and putting them in a little recipe book to keep in the kitchen. Shopping List + Prep Instructions + Recipes. Easy peasy. I think I can handle that. Thank you Interwebz... for walking me through cooking so it doesn't have to be so dang hard.

I'll let you know how this goes. :)




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Recap

Easter Recap

Zay decided to invite some friends over on Sunday and cook some hot wings (soooooo good!) and watch The Passion of the Christ. Interesting mix of things, I know. But it was good! Kal and I played cars and trains in his room during the most gruesome scenes, but he watched a good chunk of it with us. He says, "Jesus is my favorite!" <-- LOVE THAT. After our friends (and their cute little baby!) left, we watched our normal "Sunday movie" - most Sundays it'll be playing in the background while we eat or just as the day goes along - it's called "The Encounter." It's on Netflix, you should watch it.

I have been eating way too much Easter candy. Way, way too much. Even the cheap chocolate that taste like wax and chemicals. Lol. I'm thinking Zay will have to take it to his Sunday School class and share with all the kids to get it out of the house. Or I could take it to Cub Scouts... (like those boys need any more sugar-inducing energy!)

I meant to color some eggs with Kal, but I forgot. I might do that this week. Meh. If we have time. The Easter egg hunt and his Easter basket on Sunday was good enough for me (and him), so maybe we're good on random not-related-to-Jesus traditions this year. We'll see how I feel next year. :)

Kal really loves his new baby doll. BUT, that thing looks so much like baby Shak that it has been FrEaKiNg us out. Even our friends kept saying out of the corner of their eye they thought the baby was rolling off the couch or Kal was hanging him upside down... but it was just the doll. It's super creepy and might give me a heart attack! But just as I suspected, it was the perfect gift for Kal. He tucks him in and changes his clothes and carries him around. He'll make a good dad one day. :)

Zay is trying a new tactic with Kal for a Psychology assignment. He's just reacting differently to Kal's little tantrums and giving Kal more choices so he feels like he has some control. It's been working so well! If he's pouting about something and Zay explains the rules and his choices and then ignores him until he's ready to make a better decision (instead of punishing him like sending him to his room), Kal eventually will say, "Dad - I'm sorry I'm being a butt." And then better choices are made. So, this weekend went by with fewer tantrums and I'm kind of amazed. It just takes a tad bit more patience, of course. Parenting = patience. Soooo easier said than done. We're figuring this parenting thing out one day at a time, but I'm just so glad I have Zay as my partner. He's such a good example for our boys.


So, Easter went well! Life is good. My home feels full and purposeful when it once felt empty and lonely. It's also chaotic and impossible to keep clean, but who cares! It's LIVED in.




Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break

Ask your child to name 10 things (or less) they’d like to do for Spring Break.

Kal is actually at school today. He has preschool Monday & Wednesday this week. Zay has Spring Break, so it'll be him and the boys living it up when they're all home at the same time. Kal doesn't even know what Spring Break is, but I asked him and here's his idea of things that would make a perfect Spring Break:
  1. eat chicken
  2. walk to the park
  3. dance
  4. shoot hoops
  5. play Iron Man game
  6. jump on the bed
  7. jump on Mama
  8. wrestling
  9. play music
  10. play outside with my friends
Sounds like any other week around here. :)

I think it's gonna look a tad bit like this:

Yep, that's about right.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


P.S. - Only 4 days left for our fundraiser! See below:

 photo Capture_zps9oyqi1zb.png




Sunday, April 5, 2015

Spring Bucket List

Create a Spring bucket list.

I'm excited for the next few months! Here's some things I want to do, in no particular order:
  • learn to paint, paint something artsy
  • plant a little herb/flower garden with Kal, teach him about seeds and plants
  • go bike riding as a fam - figure out how to take a baby biking
  • go hiking as a fam (Zay & I have already been, but we need to get the boys out there in the mountains)
  • have one-on-one mommy-son dates with Kal & with Shak
  • get Shak sleeping through the night (so far we've got him sleeping 6 hours)
  • have a family picnic outside (we're already firing up the grill to BBQ a ton!)
  • get Kal signed up for a martial arts class (there's a Little Dragons Taekwondo class a few blocks away from where we live - I think we'll take him to that one)
  • fly kites
  • feed the ducks
  • pet a bunny!
  • go to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City
  • lay outside in the sun and read a book (I have one to do a review on, so I should get to it!) 
  • go camping
  • finalize Shak's adoption and get our homestudy updated to be approved to adopt again (more about that later! *wink wink*)

Happy Easter! From Kal and his super creepy baby doll this morning.

Kal's excited to push this little guy around in a stroller when we go for walks. He needed a "baby" to take care of. He named him Baby Thor. :)




Saturday, April 4, 2015

Today I Will...

Writing prompt for today: "Today I Will..."

I'm a chronic to-do list maker. I'm addicted. It's terrible. I'll plan my day down to 15 minute increments if someone doesn't stop me. Lol. It's a problem! But at the same time, it's because I want to do so much and it's the only way I can feel like I know what the heck is going on and stay on top of things. I have to tell myself to simply, simplify! Today was one of those rare days when I had a couple important things to get done and the rest of the day is off-limits for scheduling. I turn my phone off so I can't look at my calendar. And I go with the flow! So, who knows how this day will turn out. But this was my to-do list this morning:

* egg hunt for Kal (done!)


Zay trying to take a picture of Kal's haircut while I'm trying to take a picture of Kal with his basket...

Mooom, no pictures! He just woke up. Ha ha. *Not* a morning person.

The only actual picture I have from him looking for eggs... the rest I had my finger over the lens. Lol. Favorite quote of the day, "Whoa! They're EVERYwhere!" as he ran to go find all the eggs in the yard. Ha! Kids are so easy to please.



* one braiding session for a friend (done!) <-- I just noticed I haven't posted braiding pictures in a whole year!! What the...?

Making all my parts before I start braiding. I'll have to update some more braiding pictures soon. I'm sure there are plenty on my phone somewhere

* watch General Conference (watching it right now)




* blog (doing that right now too, obviously!)



* keep kids alive, fed, happy, and asleep at a decent hour (so far, so good)

Baby Shak

* possibly go grocery shopping (boooo! I hate grocery shopping... maybe I'll procrastinate that one)

* finally watch the season finale of The Walking Dead (we've been saving it!)



I love easy days like this. Zay has Spring Break next week - no classes, a break from assignments. It's Easter weekend PLUS conference, so that's awesome and I'm not expected to go anywhere to do anything but sit on my butt and enjoy my family and listen to some inspiring word. I've got my boys all to myself. Feels like a vacation! So far we've just been treading water, surviving each crazy busy day till we make it to the end of Zay's semester. But that goal is in sight!! We get this glorious little break right now and I'm just like, "Ahhhhh.... this feels nice." :)




Friday, April 3, 2015

Turning into my Mother

In what ways are you turning into your mother?

I have no idea how to answer that question, because I'm not really concerned about "turning into my mother." We're too different. I do catch myself in these weird Becky-like mannerisms. Or Zay will point out to me that I'm doing something that makes me look just like her. Ha ha. But other than both looking dorky (or acting spastic) sometimes and following the same religion, we think a lot differently and I don't worry about us overlapping in that way. Maybe if I was around her again, I'd notice things more...

But speaking of my Mama, I spent a couple hours on the phone with her yesterday. This is not an uncommon occurrence. We don't let a week go by when we're not yapping to each other about something or another. And I'm not even a phone person. I hate the phone usually. But talking to my mama is a regular thing. My accent comes back and everything. I miss that dang accent!!

"Sweet Becky," we call her

I think when I was younger I hated the thought of "becoming my mom." I had a lot of mom issues growing up. We bumped heads about a lot of things and I really tried to push her buttons. Becoming an adult, getting married, moving far away, and starting my own life really helped our relationship. We talk about everything now. She's actually got a lot of wisdom to share, who would've thought? Ha ha. I think when you're a teenager you really honestly DO NOT believe that your parents know ANYthing. It's nice to talk to her adult-to-adult now.

She's had some health problems that have convinced her that she doesn't need to live alone anymore, but she is having a really hard time thinking about leaving the house she's lived in for 30-something years. The house she has so many memories attached to. The house that I grew up in. The house that is tied to her past and things she really doesn't want to let go (or admit that she lost a long time ago and things aren't ever going back to the way they were).

But she wants to move. And she thinks that move should be to Utah. Sigh... I really want that for her. I think she would be much happier out here. I think it would be so awesome to have her around her grandkids. It would also mean we couldn't just up and move back to Georgia and leave her here. (Dang, things keep keeping us here!) But I've pushed those thoughts out of my mind and have really focused on talking her into making this big move. I want her out of that house... it's a death trap. I know because I grew up there. It's not fit for living in. I want her to really know my kids. I want her near so that I can take care of her. Maybe she'll even find a nice Mormon man out here. :)

One thing that was holding her back from moving was her two dogs. She really just wouldn't be able to travel with them, so she'd have to leave them behind with someone. I've been trying to convince her that her grandkids are more important than her animals. I kept joking that I was going to send a hit man to "take care of her dogs" so that she could let go and move on. Yesterday she called me to tell me that one of her dogs was run over and eventually died. I felt awful. She was in the car when it happened (but not the one driving). She scooped little Pooky up and quickly took her to the vet. She had too much internal bleeding and finally passed away after my mom insisted on keeping her alive and giving her pain medicine rather than having them put her down. My mom was an emotional wreck about it. Part of me thought... one dog down, one to go. Is that evil of me? I just know in the long run it's going to be good for her.

Mama & the dogs a couple years ago. I really do feel bad about Pooky...

Anyway, the point is that things keep happening that are pointing her in the direction of leaving the past and stepping into a completely different future. A future that might include living with us in Utah. Zay is.... okaaaaay about this. Ha ha ha. Meaning he's agreed, but he doesn't think she'll actually go through with it. But if she does... he says, "Oh boy. Yall gonna be ganging up on me in arguments." Tee hee. Yeeeaaaah, maybe. :)

We're gonna visit Georgia sometime around Christmas this year and the plan is that my mom will come back with us for a few weeks to test the waters and see how she'd really like it here and spend some time getting to know Kal (now that he's older) and help out with Shak. I'm gonna make it like the best few weeks ever so that she won't wanna go home... And maybe I'll secretly bulldoze her house while she's gone. It sure needs it.

I love my mama. Ha ha.




Thursday, April 2, 2015

Born

Write a blog post inspired by the word: born.

Well, of course the first thing that comes to mind is how I just got to witness my son being born. Holy crap was that intense!

One thing I always wanted when we knew our family would be built by adoption was to be there for my children's births. I felt like I was already missing out on so much with not being able to experience a normal life trajectory of get-married, have-sex, get-pregnant, have-babies. Adoption can make you feel pretty helpless and out of control. So I wanted to be there and experience as much as I could. To feel involved. To be a part of the process in some way.

That didn't happen with Kal and he ended up being an emergency c-section baby anyway, so I felt like I missed out. I mourned that loss. (I didn't miss out on everything - there is so much about Kal's adoption that is treasured up in my heart, but I didn't get to be at the birth.) A couple years later I introduced myself on an adoption panel and choked back tears telling our adoption story and how I had come to accept that I had no right to be in the hospital at my children's births. That is not the place for me as adoptive mom. That is their first mother's time to greet their baby and have that time with them. I get to have them for forever, but birthing a child is sacred... (something I may never get to experience, but that's okay) ... and my role is different.

Then S came along and somehow I was granted what I had originally wanted. I got to be there for Shak's birth. It seemed so comfortable and natural. I felt like S was just my sister and of course she would want me there. I was sprawled out on the couch by her bed at the hospital helping her fill out some paperwork about her birth plan. It asked who would hold the baby first and she wasn't sure, but I just said, "NO. You are holding your baby. That's what I'm putting." Lol. And she did. I looked on with the biggest smile on my face when they placed him on her chest. The way she looked at him was just so powerful and beautiful. I wish I was a better writer to capture that. She didn't want any pictures taken, so I've got that moment stored away in my memory only. I can't believe she let me be there to witness that, but it felt right. What wouldn't have felt right is if I had told her I wanted to hold him first. She probably would've given me that. There was no way in the world I was taking that away from her. I insisted.

Now I have that story to share with Shak when he's older. Little man, your first mama loved you and will never forget you. I know, because I saw that love firsthand when you were born.

I got to hold him second and that was perfect.




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Something I Learned in March

Because I have writer's block when it comes to blogging (and I'm not really ready to try to wrap my head around putting "Shakir's Adoption Story" into words), I'm following along with Kat at Mama's Losing' It with her April writing prompts. Today is "Something You Learned in March."

I'm sure I learned quite a few things this last month, so let me try to describe our March and maybe pinpoint something learned...

This was the first month we spent as a family of four at home. Trying to adjust to that while I'm working full time, Zay's in school full time, running our hair business, and trying to keep up with our callings at Church (Zay teaches Sunday School for the youth [16-17 year olds, I think is the age range] and I'm a den leader in Cub Scouts)... let's just say I'm tired and I don't know how people balance so much. Seriously. I'm not unhappy, just challenged and too busy.

I like to live simply and I feel pulled in too many different directions. Sometimes I imagine myself sitting on a porch somewhere in the backwoods of Georgia and it makes me smile. I have conflicting moments - sometimes I'm so ready to take on a challenge and conquer the world and sometimes I want to hide in my house, turn off my phone, not answer the door, and binge watch my favorite shows with my fam and not do a dang productive thing. So I do both. I take on the world and then I want to quit and do something else instead. Ha ha. One thing I've learned: I'm an introvert with social needs. I'm a goal-setting go-getter with a laid-back Southern girl's heart. Sigh... I guess I'll always be conflicted!! Ha ha.

I also learned that my family means so much to me. On March 15, I wrote in my journal: "I'm sitting in Sacrament meeting with Baby Shak in a car seat beside me in the pew. Little old ladies are stopping by to pay their compliments :) He's a cutie, all right! I feel like I'm glowing today. Just super happy. I love my little family - my *growing* family! Just makes me wanna grin like a fool - like, I've made it! I'm a mom of TWO! I was so worried it would never happen, but he's here, he's here! I just want to shout it out from the rooftops & cheer. He. Is. Here."


Another thing I've learned - that as I'm nearing 30 years old, I am closer to really embracing who I am and being comfortable in my own skin. I wrote, "And not care what other people think or try to live up to everyone's expectations. The older I get, the wiser I get with that aspect of life. Everyone is different & it's totally completely okay to be the way you really are. It's also totally completely okay to change over time, but only if you change organically & not just to please another person or group of people. I look back at my high school self & laugh at how I was back then. I'm not the same person & that's okay. That's *good*! I'm more who I want to be & embracing who I really am today than I ever dreamed I could back in high school. I've been through some heavy experiences in my 20's. And I've fought through them. I've felt like a failure at times, but right now I feel like I've won. I have won. There were trials that threatened my marriage. But my marriage is stronger today than ever. I have won. Going to BYU was so, so very difficult. But I graduated. I have won. I battled insecurities about finding a job that fit my personality. But I've found a good job & a direction, a great stepping stone to a career. I have won. I have battled infertility, found my path with adoption, & then had to battle failed placements. But today, I have two children... That is amazing in and of itself & everything feels perfect. I have my family. I have won. I know who I am now & I love myself & my family & my friends & my choices. I have won. My happiness is in the way I have viewed the world & in following the path I was called to follow. My happiness is in my spirituality. My happiness is in enduring to the end. My faith. My blessings. My trials that have given me strength. Not in ease & comfort, but in challenge & overcoming obstacles & finding meaning in my life & the circumstances I find myself in. I know my God lives when I see my children's faces. I have won, but only because I didn't do it alone."

On a lighter, funnier note... I learned that an assumption of mine was wrong. I assumed people would automatically recognize us as an adoptive family now that we have two kids with obviously differing skin tones. But nope. I showed up to Church by myself with Baby Shak for the first time (I think Kal & Zay were home sick that day). I was soooo surprised at how many people assumed I had just given birth to him. Like, shocked. I had to correct so many people. I'm thinking, "Man! I need to stop hiding out in the back! Folks didn't even realize I wasn't pregnant." And... "How in the world are they thinking I gave birth to this dark chocolate baby?? I'm paler than a ghost!" This one lady came up and started talking about how cute he was and then just exclaimed, "You weren't even that big!" Ha ha ha ha. I bout died laughing. My friend Ali laughed with me and corrected her for me. I said, "I wasn't big AT ALL, was I??" Ha ha ha. I don't get offended much anymore about silly things people say - they just crack me up. Then a guy from the Bishopric (hello, he should be informed about these things) made a comment about how much he looks like Zay and then he stumbled all over his words and said, "Is that how that works?" I just looked at him like, "Huh? How what works?" I was so beyond confused. I assumed he knew Shak was adopted, so in my head I was like, "Is that how adoption works? Cuz I don't know what you mean." Ali jumped in again to tell him he was adopted (and that Kal was adopted too) and he got all embarrassed and said something about shutting up before he puts his foot in his mouth again... and I was still all confused. "Is that how that works?" ... How what works??? Ha ha ha. Other people just took a second with a confused look and then asked if they had missed the fact that I was pregnant. Nope, it's that new-fangled thing called adoption, yall. You should look it up!





Saturday, March 28, 2015

I Have Loved You for a Thousand Years...

...  I Will Love You for a Thousand More

I was calling him Baby Snuggles in my head for awhile, but after we picked his name and saw him for the first time he's been Baby Shak. Or Shak Attack, Shak-nado, Shak-fu, Shak-pocalypse. Whatever the occasion calls for. Ha ha. It totally fits him and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

He is BEAUTIFUL and I love him more than my little heart can handle! I'm just bursting with the thought of Kal being a big brother (finally seeing that in action) and for these two to get to know each other over the years and become best friends. My heart is SO FULL, I don't know what to do. But to enjoy it. Every sleepless night, every feeding, every dirty diaper is just fantastic. Love it all. This little miracle has come to console us in God's perfect timing and we are so thankful.

Newborn hospital pics taken by Baby Bloom Photography in Kansas:














Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Just Checkin' In

I'm still alive, I promise! Just been reeeeaaally sleepy. :)

Last night I got the best sleep I've gotten since Baby #2 arrived - two whole solid chunks of sleep, about 4 hours each. Whoo hoo! So I'm feeling pretty chipper today. My emotions have settled into this nice warm happiness... like everything is right in the world. Most of my conflicted emotions have died down into contentment. Especially since Shakir's birthmom is so easy to get a hold of and talk to. I need that connection and I know she does and Shak will too.

A small part of me worried about how Zay and I would fare with two kids. Not seriously worried, but I wondered if we'd get annoyed with each other while trying to work together. But something happened once baby Shak showed up. It was like Operation Teamwork kicked in something fierce and we are just ROCKING IT. Seriously. I am kinda giddy about it. I'm falling in love with this man of mine all over again. He has brought me chocolate on many occasions, ha ha. He has hopped up with the baby in the middle of the night, shushing me back to sleep because he's "got this." I've been grinning like a school girl with him lately.

Normal things we were stressing about are overshadowed right now. When my clean-freak hubby is happily sitting in a pile of laundry (completely ignoring it) while feeding a baby... I know something's changed. The world feels brighter somehow. Easier. Not because it is. It's probably harder. But in our minds right now it feels easier because we wanted this so much... and he's here. And the weight of finding Baby #2 is gone. I knew it was a stressor, but feeling it lifted made me realize how much it really was weighing on us.

Thank you for joining us, little man.

Shak Attack




Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I am a Terrible Blogger

Just horrible, I tell ya.

I want to write about Shakir's adoption, but it felt like such a *huge awesome important thing* that it's hard to write about at all. To go from waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting... to omg, he's here!... just has my emotions all confused and out of whack.

Right at this moment I'm tired, relieved, excited, IN LOVE, sad, broken, grateful, angry, embarrassed, worried, and tired. Did I mention tired?

I'm tired because Kal is an amazing sleeper and we have been so accustomed to sleeping as much as we want at night... and then introduce a newborn and it's like, daaaaang. Plus I went right back to work the day after we got home. Jumped right back into working full-time. So, trying to balance everything all of a sudden is tiring. Good thing Zay is awesome at daddying and good thing we have friends who babysit at the drop of a hat. Once Zay's semester is over, things will get a lot better in the sleep department.

I'm relieved because I feel like I have been fighting and fighting to give Kal a sibling and to grow our family. We envisioned having lots of kids and with letdown after letdown, it was starting to look like we'd have an only child. And I DID NOT want that! But he's here! My baby boy #2 is here! I can stop fighting so hard. I can relax. I can get out of the trenches, because my baby's home! I'm relieved that we didn't have to do fertility treatments. I really am. It's not something I want to do anytime soon if I can keep getting out of it.

I'm excited because the future is looking awesome when it once looked very dreary! I have hope that adoption is our path again. I am looking forward to growing our family that way in the future as well. LDS Family Services is going to pay for LDS adoptive couples to have a free year of profile listing on adoption.com. That is gonna bring opportunities to so many waiting couples! I had been worried about LDS Family Services not doing adoptions anymore, but once we looked outside of that and saw how we could network and find our own path to adoption without working through them, opportunities come up much more often. This is a good thing. I am excited. :)

I am SO IN LOVE with this little baby!!! We call him "Shak" for short. That kinda morphed into "Shak Attack." I love my little Shak Attack! I love seeing him with Kal. They are the most adorable little duo I have ever seen! We'll lay Shak down on a blanket on the floor and Kal will curl up next to him and just put his hand on his back and stare at him. He'll say, "I'm gonna tell the baby a story!" and he'll start whispering to him. Or he'll say, "I'm gonna sing to baby Shak!" and start singing "Let It Go." Ha ha. He wants to hold him and feed him. He knows it's his job to protect the baby, so if he hears him crying, he'll announce it. If you get too close, he'll say, "Watch out for the baby!" Oh, my heart. Not to mention seeing Zay as a daddy to these two boys. Omg.

This little nugget. *squeal*!!!

I am sad because Shak's birth mom won't get to be his day-to-day mom. And that we have a second son who might not ever know his birth father. I know he's where he's supposed to be and that we were chosen to be his parents for a reason, but it doesn't make it any less sad. Adoption is complicated.

I feel broken because I couldn't bring a baby into the world myself. If this adoption had worked out a couple years ago and I hadn't spent so much time wondering if I should be doing fertility treatments or not, maybe all those old infertile wounds wouldn't have crept up again. But I allowed them back in and now I'm feeling all sorts of things I thought I was over and WANT to be over. Infertility is complicated.

I feel grateful. This is exactly what I wanted and it happened. How can I not be grateful?? Shakir's name means grateful/thankful and we thought it fit for that reason. I'm thankful for such a wonderful experience bringing me back out of my adoption funk. I'm thankful for Shak's birthmama for making us feel like family immediately and making us feel like we could trust someone again. I'm thankful that I prayed for a miracle and he's here. Thankful is an understatement.

I also feel angry that it took so long. And I'm embarrassed that I'm feeling angry, but I am. I'm angry that I had to go through so many ups and downs to get here. I just wish life was a tad bit easier, ya know? I pick a really good time to be angry, right?

I'm also embarrassed that I started a fundraiser and people actually donated to it. Ha ha. Is it silly that I'm embarrassed?

I'm worried about being a good mom. I'm worried about my own mom. She is thinking about moving to Utah and thinks this is where she needs to be. She's had some health problems and shouldn't really be living alone. I want her out here with me, but we really don't have the space. I'm worried about making big decisions like that and it not going as I'd hoped. I'm worried about having to move again (cuz we'll need a bigger place if/when she comes). I'm worried that she'll really like Utah and then we'll end up moving back to Georgia in a few years - what will she do then? I'm worried this last adoption used up our saving-for-a-house money and now we won't be able to buy a house as soon as we'd like and we'll be stuck renting FOREVER. I'm worried that we'll be in Utah even longer than I wanted.

I am just a hot mess of emotion right now. Not all of it really makes sense. It just is what it is and I'm trying to work my way through it and find my new normal. Overall I'm happy. It's just complicated. :)




Friday, February 27, 2015

He's Here!!!






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