Thursday, January 31, 2013

Video Flashback: Kal's 1st Birthday Party!

Kal's 2nd birthday is rapidly approaching - in March! I haven't decided on anything as far as celebrating it, but I've been mulling it over and going back and forth in my mind about whether I want to go all out and turn on the crazy-Alice-party-mode or if I want it to be super low-key. We shall see.

In the meantime, here is a video of his 1st birthday party (it was basketball-themed and we had a Superman/basketball cake). We sang him Happy Birthday and then he refused to eat his cake. Ha ha. He's always had an aversion to new textures and he just didn't like it. Plus he was sleepy and didn't understand why we were making a big fuss about a cake when there were BASKETBALLS EVERYWHERE!! (That boy is gonna be a basketball star one day. I have never seen a 1-year-old shoot a jumpshot like he does. It's seriously amazing.)

Video:




Monday, January 28, 2013

A Moment of Clarity


You may not know it to look at me, but I have been having an identity crisis for a few years now. Actually, I'm pretty positive you can tell by looking at me... given I can't stick with a style or a hair color. Lol. But I digress. It goes much deeper than that.

I have had a very, very hard time sticking up for myself. Or having any confidence in myself at all. Social anxiety. Etc. Etc. Etc. It's been overwhelming at times. Learning to be a mother added another layer to it all. I've been known to ask people how they perceive me and then freak out when they give me an answer that I wasn't aware of - do people really see me like that??

But over the past year, I've been working through all my deep-seated issues one-by-one. It's been fuuuuun, yall. I needed to go all the way back to my childhood and process every traumatic experience from then until the present. Let's just say I haven't had it easy. But I won't go into that here. It has taken a lot of struggling with certain events and triggers, two steps forward and one step back with each one, until peace has come... confidence has grown... and I'm starting to learn who I am, and that I'm okay with who that person is. This has taken a lot of work. It was a frustrating process that didn't happen all at once.

I've had these "moments of clarity," where I stop to observe where I am and what I'm doing and who I'm with... and I'm completely content with it all, completely content with me in that moment. I haven't had many of these moments in my life, but I've been having them all the time lately. I have made tremendous progress. :)

This may make no sense to anyone else, but for me... this was one of those moments, earlier this month. I'll try to paint the picture for you.......

~~~

I'm dressed in my Georgia Bulldog sweats. It is too cold to go outside and we're basically snowed in, so no point in dressing up today if I'm not going anywhere. Plus I'm redneck, so of course I'm barefoot (and Kal has no pants on, but that's another story).

It's been a few weeks since my gothic blue-black hair dye job, so my roots are showing again. I keep wondering when I'm gonna have time to pick up some blue hair extensions at Hot Topic...?

I answer a phone call from our adoption caseworker. Dangit, where did I put that paper I was supposed to turn in? Scatterbrain is permanent now that I'm a mother. Does it get worse with two kids? Cuz I might end up losing one of them if that's the case.

My Dominican client is slouched in the chair in front of me as I moisturize and cornrow his hair. I'm proud of him for his complete 180 turn-around with his hair. It's super healthy now. When he first came to me a few years ago he couldn't get a comb through it.

I've got a country song stuck in my head - "Strawberry Wine" - and I think to myself that all my old favorites come into replay in my head when I haven't listened to the radio in awhile. And it's been AWHILE. I used to listen to the radio on my way to and from work, but those days are o-vah!

One of my all-time favorite comedies - Hot Rod - is playing on the big screen and blaring out of the speakers (love the 80's soundtrack to that movie!). "You're bout to make tears come outta my face!" I start giggling.

"I found this bag of fireworks in the men's restroom. Would you guys like to light them off?"

Two other Dominican guys take up my living room, and suddenly a very LOUD Spanish conversation breaks out. I love Latinos. They're so excitable. :) One guy yells at me (I'm sure he's not trying to yell), "If you wanna party, THIS is the guy to hang with!" - pointing to my client in the chair. I say, "Does it look like I party?" Ha ha. I look down at my full-on stay-at-home mom comfortableness and laugh. He laughs too. He obviously thinks I'm a party-er. Well, I've been known to get a little crazy...

There's the faint smell of greasy hot wings drifting in from the kitchen. I think we ate that (and only that) for our last meal. I go in and out of my vegetarianism. But I'm okay with that. Baby steps.

Zay is in the other room, listening to hip hop (before our customers showed up, we were both cuddled up in the bed listening to CNN radio...). He's cutting a flat-top (think Kid from Kid-n-Play, or the Fresh Prince) for a teenaged bi-racial kid who wants to make a statement and bring it back in style, I'm sure. I am positive he doesn't need a crazy hairstyle just to stand out in white-washed Utah. But it's an awesome hair 'do, complete with a lightning bolt on the side and everything. Every once in awhile I sneak in and smile at Zay and his work. Then I hussle back to finish my braiding.

Kal is pulling every single cereal box from the pantry shelves while seriously bobbing his head to whatever song he's listening to on his new Christmas present mp3 player (do 1-year-olds need mp3 players??). Then he runs around the living room giving high-fives and showing off his toy robot to our clients. He has so many opportunities to interact with many, many different people because of this hair business. Everybody loves him. He thinks that they are there just to play with him!

My kitties are hiding in the laundry room, curled up into one big cat poof together... purring loudly.

Annnnd.... this is my life. :)

~~~

This wasn't a "perfect" moment or anything. Nothing fantastically amazing was happening. I wasn't doing everything "just right"... but I was me and I was totally cool with that. I was thinking about things, but I wasn't anxious about anything. Just... peaceful. "Everything is right in the world" kind of feeling. I'm me... and that's okay.





Terry Achane's Fight for His Daughter

In the state of Utah, unmarried birth fathers don't necessarily have to be notified directly (let alone give consent) when the birth mother decides to place their child for adoption. Their notification comes when they decided to have sex. If they had sex, they could've gotten someone pregnant, and the woman could've chosen to abort or to place the baby without telling them anything.

So, if you have sex with someone, you are notified of an adoption plan??

That sounds harsh to me. And underhanded.

Apparently even a married man can father a child and have this happen to him. That's messed up.

HERE's a brief update on the Terry Achane case.

Video of soldier father Terry Achane reunited with his daughter:






Saturday, January 26, 2013

Interview with an Adoptee: Andrew

I actually know quite a few people who were adopted and I'm always thinking of all these questions I'd like to ask them. Of course I manage to find ways to pepper those questions throughout everyday conversations. For some reason, people tend to open up to me. :) But what I really want to do is sit down with them and actually ask them a series of questions and really dig into it. So I decided to use "an interview for my blog" as an excuse. :)

My first interview is with our really good friend Andrew Wyatt. He was adopted as a newborn in the state of Indiana, but he now lives in Utah. He has a completely closed adoption and knows very little about his birth parents. He is bi-racial (half white/ half black) and was transracially adopted into a white family - the only one who was adopted (out of 3 kids).

Zay with Andrew at his wedding reception last year
The feeling I get from Andrew is that family is who you choose them to be. His adoptive family is his family. But he would very much like to meet his birth family one day, to get to know that side of himself.

On with the interview!

***

Alice Anne: At what point in your life did you first start to understand that you were adopted?

Andrew: Probably when I was like 4 years old. I just always knew. My parents were white! Ha ha. My parents were always reminding me or my brothers were always reminding me. They never really had to break it down for me.

Alice Anne: What do you mean “they were always reminding you”? Is that in a negative or a positive way?

Andrew: “We love you, but remember... you were adopted!” Ha ha. No, they would just tell me that even though I was adopted it made no difference, I was still a part of the family.

Alice Anne: How did your parents explain it to you over time?

Andrew: They kind of let me know that if I was ever curious about things or if I wanted to know more all I would have to do is ask. It was kind of left up to me if I wanted to know more and they left it at that. It was weird sometimes because my parents would get nervous about it, but other than that it was fine. I really got curious when I was like 15, 16 years old. I was mostly curious about where I got things from and what my birth parents were like.

Alice Anne: What do you know about your birth family?

Andrew: Nothing. Oh, except that they were both singers and they met in college. I don't know what kind of singers they were, but I know they were both really into singing and were going to college.

Kayla (Andrew's wife): His birth mom was blonde and had blue eyes! The nurses made him a baby book with pictures, but it was destroyed when he was too young to remember the pictures.

Andrew: My birth dad was black and my birth mom was white. I think I remember her height being 5' 10”.

Kayla: I think your mom said they were both tall.

Andrew: I was born and adopted from Indiana. I would assume they were from Indiana, but who knows? They were going to college, so they could've been out of state at the time.

Alice Anne: Were your birth parents viewed in a negative or a positive light in your household?

Andrew: Always positive.

Kayla: Anytime his parents ever talked to me about it, they were really respectful. I think that's a really good word to describe it – respectful.

Alice Anne: How do you imagine your birth parents to be?

Andrew: I think my mom would be the more funny one. My dad was probably more serious. That's the way I look at it. I think my dad was more athletic. That's just always how I thought about it. Since I didn't know, I just kind of made it up in my mind about it. Or I guess I had a feeling about how they are.

Alice Anne: Describe a time where you felt like the odd man out because you were adopted. And describe a time when you felt like you fit right in and being adopted didn't matter.

Andrew: I rarely felt like the odd man out. I only felt like that because I couldn't find out where I came from. Or where I got my nose from or certain physical traits... when my family or friends would talk about where they got certain things from. My actual “adoptedness” was never really a factor, though. It's always something I just accepted and I adapted. It never really mattered.

Alice Anne: What one emotion do you feel the most strongly when you think about your adoption or talk about adoption?

Andrew: Probably just frustration, because I think it's unfair that adoptions can even have the option to be closed. No matter what happens, the adopted person can't do anything about it. I can't get any information about my own history.

Alice Anne: Do you feel a sense of grief or loss associated with losing your birth family? How has it affected your sense of self?

Andrew: Loss... obviously, yeah. Just not having a full understanding of myself. I mean, I've gained confidence in who I am and what I can do. But there's always the wanting to know the traits of my birth parents – are there things they were good at that I might be too?

Alice Anne: Some people feel a deep need to connect to someone through blood. Has that affected you?

Andrew: No, I've never felt that. It hasn't really affected me. Other than just wanting to know where certain traits come from.

Alice Anne: Do you wish your parents had done or said anything differently in regards to your adoption?

Andrew: I wish they would have gotten pictures or more information. My parents met them once, I think. I'm remembering more as I'm talking about it. My biological parents, I know, at least wanted to meet who was adopting me. My parents fostered me at first. At the time you weren't allowed to adopt a child when you fostered them. They went through the church to try to fight to be able to adopt me. I think they used LDS Family Services.

Alice Anne: What do you imagine you gained the most by being adopted?

Andrew: I gained by having the Gospel in my life. The way I look at it is family's family. We're all family. I know that no matter what, family will be together forever, so I'll meet my birth family one day. And when I do... then I can ask them, “What the heck?” Ha ha.

Alice Anne: Would you say you have found peace with being adopted?

Andrew: Sure. I mean, it will always bother me. It bothers me today. But not enough to, you know, go rob a bank or anything. Ha ha. I even threw down a couple grand to find my birth parents at one time. I've looked. I found an agency that said they'd find a way to get a work-around to get a closed adoption open, but it turned out to be a scam. And I wrote a letter to Oprah! Ha ha. It was about a week after I got home from my [LDS] mission. I don't remember what it said exactly. Actually, the computer I have in the garage might have it saved on there. I imagined I'd be on her show and she'd be like, “We have a surprise for you Andrew!” and her music would play and my birth parents would come out and everybody would have DVDs under their seats or whatever. Ha ha. Or at the very least, she'd be like, “We didn't find your birth parents... but here's a new car!” And the whole time I'd be telling her, “I'm not gonna cry, Oprah. Don't even try it!” Ha ha.

Alice Anne: If you could have lunch with any member of your birth family, who would you want to talk to and what would you want to say?

Andrew: Man, I've had dreams about this! I would probably want it to be with my birth dad. I'd briefly want a watered-down version of why I was adopted and then just have a conversation that has nothing to do with adoption just to get to know him. And then shoot hoops for like an hour and have some fun.

Kayla: What if your birth dad didn't even know how to play basketball? What if your birth mom was the good basketball player?

Andrew: Well, I'd teach him. Or I'd tell him, “You're not my birth dad!” Ha ha.

Kayla: He'd be like, “Sorry, son – your mother was the all-star.”

Andrew: If I met my birth family, I don't know if I'd hang out with them all the time. I'd probably just want to talk to them, gather the story from it, and let them be. If I did hang out with them a lot, I probably wouldn't let my parents know that. It would just be for me.

Alice Anne: If you could know the full truth about why you were placed for adoption and who your birth parents were – the good and the bad – would you want to know?

Andrew: That's always a good question, because 9 out of 10 times it's probably not what you'd think it would be. I think before I'd ask the truth, I'd want to get a feel for what they were like. If they were really serious people or not. Or if they were embarrassed by it or anything, I probably wouldn't ask. I'd just have a conversation, see where my physical traits came from, and then I'd let it be. I think I'd want to know if they think about me or how it works for them on their side of things. I'd want to know about them. And I'd tell them that I'm doing great.

Alice Anne: Would you ever consider adopting a child yourself? If so, would you go about it any differently?

Andrew: Yep, I would adopt. I'd have an open adoption and I'd let the birth parents have pictures. I'd probably let the birth parents contact them once a year, maybe. I think an open adoption agreement is a good idea.

Alice Anne: How do you feel about society's shift towards open adoption being the norm?

Andrew: Yaaaaaay. It's about dang time. No, don't put “dang” – put “d@$*.” Write it like that. Ha ha.

[~It's about d@$* time!~]

Alice Anne: How do you think your adoption experience has affected your relationships with other people?

Andrew: I think it's benefited me a lot. I feel like I can connect to people on all levels. With friends who were adopted in closed or open adoptions, or people who weren't adopted at all. Because I can look back retrospectively and see myself as not being adopted at all, because I look at it as my family is my family. Then with friends who are also in closed adoptions, I can understand when they feel abandoned or alone and I can let them know that the family they have is their family, and that they've got to understand that the people who placed them for adoption obviously loved them if they tried to give them a life that they couldn't give. And with friends who have an open adoption, I can understand wanting that relationship and I can let them know based on my own situation to be grateful for the openness that they have.

Alice Anne: How do you think your adoption experience will affect your experiences as a father (when that time comes)?

Andrew: I think I'll be over-protective, because it'll be the first time I've seen someone biologically related to me... but knowing that beforehand I may be able to balance it out.

Kayla: Oh, he will be super over-protective. I can already see it.

Andrew: Only with the first kid, though... the second kid I won't care. Just kidding. Ha ha.

Alice Anne: I remember Zay asked me if a bi-racial person and another bi-racial person had kids (like yall), what race would their kids be? And I told him "bi-racial" and he said the math didn't make any sense. Ha ha. I had to explain to him how fractions work. Anyway! Any last thoughts?

Andrew: I wanna give a shout-out to RayRay! Ha ha. Nah. That's it. Thanks.

***

If you or someone you know placed a bi-racial (half white/ half black) baby boy for adoption in the state of Indiana in 1986 and are looking for reunion, please contact me at xavierandaliceanne AT gmail DOT com to see if more details match.





Friday, January 25, 2013

The "Waiting" Period: Week 1

We were approved a week ago and that begins the fun process of getting the word out about our plans to adopt! Yay!

Our adoption approval letter came in the mail. :)

Last time we went through this crazy adoption process, I was so busy with work that I waited a few weeks before really trying to brainstorm ways to reach out and network. (Work was a good distraction from the waiting process, by the way.) Then I started making some passalong cards to give to friends and family and to leave at various places, etc. But before I could even order them, we were contacted by a series of 4 expectant mothers who were considering adoption and took an interest in us as adoptive parents. I was so excited and scared and surprised! I had expected to only have to face one situation at a time and that we would have to wait much longer than we did.

Kal came to us so quickly. It seriously took my breath away that it happened so fast. I was in a state of shock. At the hospital where Kal was born, I shut down emotionally and was very, very quiet. I didn't know how to respond. I felt so unprepared for how overwhelming it would feel to adopt and to suddenly be a mother. An insta-mom! And... ha ha... I found out I sweat a lot when I'm nervous. Gross. I was a mess.

Anyway, it turned out that it was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I was meant to be a mother. I was meant to fall in love with adoption. And I want to do it again.

The more people who know about us wanting to adopt, the more our names will be brought up when adoption situations arise. And the faster we will be matched with someone who is looking for adoptive parents. So, share away! HERE is the link to our adoption profile.

The first time around, I had just started blogging and I didn't have much of an "adoption circle" of friends yet. But this time we know so many people with connections and we have an amazing network within the adoption community in real life and online with all my blogging and Facebook friends. Everyone has been so supportive and have offered some very valuable networking on our behalf. You guys have already started to spread the word for us in very helpful and creative ways. I am in awe. :) I am very grateful for the outpouring of support we have received and I thank you all so much for even the simplest act of kindness to help us build our family. It all means so much and I don't feel alone in this at all!

I'm excited and optimistic. But most of all, I'm content with the way things are. And I am prepared to handle disappointment. And not "everything" is riding on us adopting again. We have Kal and he is more than I could have ever imagined. I was so nervous the first time, because it felt like my only chance at becoming a parent and I was aching for a child. Now, my heart is full and healed. Adopting again would just be a way to share the love I already have. To multiply it. I have grown through all of this.

And I know everything will work out as it should.

*positive thinking*
*positive thinking*
*positive thinking*




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Thoughts on Gun Control

Remember when I said I made a list (a spreadsheet, actually) of all the holidays I want to make sure my family celebrates in some way? Well, after New Year's... the next holiday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

I found 3 documentaries on Netflix about him and I watched them all in one sitting when I was sick with the flu a couple weeks ago. Lol. Chicken noodle soup and MLK. That's how I roll! My favorite of the 3 was "Roads to Memphis."

Then we watched the inauguration as a family. How awesome is it that it falls on Martin Luther King Day this year? And how beautiful was that speech?! Obama is the man. WE THE PEOPLE!!! We're also going to the keynote speaker about MLK that they're having tomorrow morning at Utah Valley University. I've been missing my school days lately, so I like going to devotionals and speakers at UVU and BYU to get my fill of education.

Video of President Obama's 2013 inauguration speech:


Video of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech:


Studying up on civil rights got me thinking about who I consider my heroes or idols. Who are the people who I can say made a difference in who I am as a person and whose values and philosophies are in line with my own? I'm still working on that short list of people I admire and I'm not all that sure who would make the cut. We're all human and people disappoint and fall short. But...

*What Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to do and what he tried to stand for resonates with me on a deep level.*

Mostly his stance on nonviolence. He wouldn't even allow his men around him to carry guns when they were participating in a peaceful protest. He took no concern for his life and instead just proceeded on with what he knew was right until the evil in the world took his life away from him. He will get his in the next life and so will his murderer. He left that judgement to God rather than taking it into his own hands with violence and a gun to "defend" himself.

--Beginning of rant.--

Gun control is a hot topic right now. And I'm not saying my way is right and is the way America should do things. I'm just stating my own personal beliefs - I am anti-gun. I do not believe that anyone should own a gun, for any reason, including hunting. I am anti-killing of animals. I am anti-violence. I know it goes deeper than a simple blanket statement of "let's get rid of all the guns" and that is why there is so much dispute about what exactly needs to be done about the gun violence in America. It is a very complex issue and believe me, I understand all sides. But I believe what I believe and I am entitled to that.

I think we should be a peaceful people. A people who trusts their neighbors and is kind to strangers and other nations. I think we should uplift the poor and needy and give help to the unhealthy (in mind, body, and spirit). I think we should be kind to animals as well. I think we should live a life of "doing no harm." To me, there is no place for guns or weapons in that kind of society.

We should be able to talk to each other and give each other respect without resorting to violence. I believe we should be able to find and keep a job without resorting to violence to steal what we need to survive.

I think that war is horrible. We should know better. Humans should be doing better than we are. Guns are not the answer. Forgiveness and respect are the answers. Freely giving of our substance to those in need is the answer. Righteous living is the answer. We need God, not guns. We need more peace.

--End of rant.--

Since I'm not working or going to school right now, I didn't get MLK Day off. So if I hadn't made it special on my own, it would've just been any other day. But I'm glad I made it special. It sparked a lot of great discussion in our home and gave me an excuse to be nerdy and watch lots of documentaries and educate myself some more. It's been great. :)

How was your MLK Day weekend?




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog Hop: Favorite Spot in My Home

This is a post for Open Adoption Bloggers' Blog Hop! Head over to see what everyone else had to say. :)

I have a very, very uncomfortable love seat. There is absolutely no position that isn't pokey or painful, especially if Zay and I are both trying to curl up to watch some Netflix at night. Something needs to be done about that. It is a literal pain in the neck and I'm sad we sold our big nice couch when we moved. Dangit!

BUT, right where that big, lumpy, angular, hard-as-a-rock love seat sits is my favorite spot in my home. (One day the couch will reflect that... and it will be an even better spot.)

This spot is the warmest area of the house besides the kitchen. And I am cold, all the time. Fragile bones!

It's where Kal likes to read books with me (and where Moo Moo likes to make his presence known). Here's a couple of unflattering pictures to prove it, ha ha.

Kal has a fascination with wearing this fuzzy sock on his hand. I don't get it.


It's prime seating for the big screen (niiice).

I like my fake tree. And my "Families are Forever" sign. And the picture frame that I finally actually put pictures in.

And it has one of my favorite artists' painting on the wall: "Hand in Hand" by Greg Olsen. I pretty much love every one of his paintings. They are so beautiful. I WANT THEM ALL.

Photo: www.LDSart.com
  
So, what is your favorite room/spot/piece of art in your home and why?




Thursday, January 17, 2013

Approved!


 We are officially done with paperwork to be approved to adopt!

Our original goal was to be approved by the end of 2012 and then the holidays threw us off with trying to get things done, but we still managed to get everything done a couple weeks into the new year! So I'm happy with that. :)

Now comes the "waiting"... Our profile is online for expectant parents to view. Anyone considering placing their baby for adoption and take a fancy to us can contact our caseworker. That's when the fun begins! We'll probably get to meet lots of fabulous girls who chose life over abortion, even when they found themselves in a very difficult situation. It's very interesting to me to hear their stories and my heart aches for every one of them as they struggle with life-changing decisions... sometimes at a very, very young age.

Feel free to share our blog and/or our profile page with anyone you know who is considering adoption. You really never know who will see us as the right family, or where our child will come from... we could be flying to any state in the U.S. to meet some of these girls! We look forward to sharing our stories and seeing if we're a perfect fit to answer each other's prayers.

So scary, but so exciting. :)




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

While I Was Sleeping...

We have our Mac and Zay's iPhone sharing photos, so sometimes I get on the computer and see pictures like this that he's taken on his phone. He's so sneaky. Lol. He won't even tell me he took pictures of me. He just waits for me to find them.

P.S. - he also tells me I'm an angry sleeper, whatever that means. Ha ha ha. I think I look pretty peaceful! I had probably just eaten. I cannot stay awake after I eat.










Monday, January 14, 2013

Video Flashback: Teaching Kal to Crawl!

I'm going back through (literally) thousands of pictures and videos of Kal when he was smaller. The time is just zooming by! I can barely even remember him as a baby anymore and I hardly recognize him in his newborn pics. He's such a big boy already. Geez! I'm gonna post some of my fave videos.

This is when I was trying to "teach" him to crawl, in my own little way. Ha ha. We have SO much fun together!

Video:





Friday, January 11, 2013

It Is WAY Too Cold

This is the coldest Utah winter I can remember. It was 0 degrees for a few days in a row there. ZERO DEGREES. As my brother would say, "What happened to all the degrees??" It's been "heating up" to about 20 degrees now.

The snow is absolutely gorgeous and I thank heaven every day that I don't have to drive in it (I can actually enjoy it when I don't have to drive in it and be scared for my life). We had a beautiful white Christmas. I love building snow forts and whatnot. The mountains are amazing to look at, of course.

But this winter should end now. Please? Before it gets too dreary?

Zay took these on his way to work.




That's why I'm still stretching out my hiking posts from last summer, because I just want to remember the heat of the sun and the days where we went swimming and wore our bathing suits all day long. I got this swimsuit Victoria's Secret catalog in the mail today... my mailbox was covered in icicles and I had to pry it open... only to find this catalog with all these beaches and bikinis and sizzling summer shots all over the place. I just laughed. How mean! I was standing in a foot of snow!

I can't wait for summer again. :)

Pics from Summer 2012:

Indoor swimming - saving Mama's skin from the sun!

Getting a tan. This is the day I got BURNED.

Climbing on things.

Popcorn eatin'.

Gazing at mini ponies.

Playing with rocks.

Watching his Daddy mow the lawn.

Anxious to join in the soccer game.

Volleyball champ right there!



Ahhh... sleeveless shirts and fun days at the park!

Bonsai tree sellers on the side of the road. Totally had to buy one!

Family walks and wildflowers.


No need for pants in this weather!

Lots of lounging on the grass.






Off to the Scera Pool!

Lots of birthday parties.

Cake!
Anyone else missing summertime??




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Things I Think Are Awkward: Christmas Carolers

Photo: www.classicchristmascarolers.com

Now, I know some of my friends personally do this... so I'm not trying to make fun. Just admitting my awkwardness. :)

But out of all the things in the entire world that make me feel awkward, Christmas Carolers are definitely near the top.

This is not something I ever witnessed as a kid. When I saw caroling on movies, I thought it was made up. People wouldn't really go out in the cold and sing to you. That's bizarre.

First of all, I would never do this. It would be awkward to be the caroler. And cold. And I'm pretty sure I don't know all the words to any Christmas songs.

Second of all, no one I grew up around would leave their door open that long (are we trying to heat the whole neighborhood? we got bills to pay!)... or come out in the cold on their porch or whatever to listen to it.

Third of all, it's awkward just to watch people sing... with all their uncomfortable facial expressions. Maybe if they were dancing too... I think I would appreciate a nice choreographed number.

When I first moved to Utah, the culture shock was intense. But when carolers came a-knocking on my small apartment door that first Christmas, I really freaked out. I had no idea what to do. They were literally like 2 feet away from me in the stairwell, so I couldn't really scream and shut the door. They had seen my face! And knew where I lived! And I couldn't come outside because I didn't have my coat on! And they were taking up the stairwell! So, I folded my arms and leaned on my doorframe and smiled sooooo awkwardly until the ordeal was over.



I repeat: a group of strangers broke out into song in front of me just for my benefit. Oh, my heck - I did not ask for this. How is that not awkward?

What was I supposed to do? Is there some Christmas Caroling etiquette I'm not aware of? Just hope they only sing one song? Sing with them? Do Carolers normally stay 20 feet away, on the sidewalk, and sing to the whole neighborhood in general? Because I might be able to handle that, but not when they knock on my door... and stand RIGHT THERE. I swear my muscles tightened and I wanted to run away.

Awwwwkward.




Open Adoption Roundtable: Approaching Openness Differently in 2013

Reading/listening to the recordable book "All the Ways I Love You" - a gift from his birthmom.
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The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community.

Roundtable #41: Are you approaching openness differently in 2013? What experiences from the past year influenced you most?

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When I was first learning about adoption and preparing myself for this mystical thing called “open adoption,” I knew absolutely nothing. I didn't know what it was going to look like for us. I didn't know what it should look like or what was expected of me. I didn't know if it was going to be difficult or come naturally. But I was optimistic.

All I knew was that 1) there was no way I could deny my child a connection to his roots and 2) there was no way I could cut off contact with the woman who carried and gave birth to my child. … That was enough for me to embrace the idea and to find a way to make it work, whatever that meant.

I'd heard of “open adoption agreements” and how sometimes couples and birth parents would sit down and actually write out in the beginning their expectations for exchanging letters, pictures, gifts, personal information, etc. I dismissed that at the time, because I thought a truly open adoption would just flow... Who really needs a document telling them when to send pictures? I thought it was silly and unnecessary. We would just wing it – exactly like we were winging the whole adoption thing in general. We didn't have a clue what we were doing and we were scared out of our minds. But my optimistic approach was that we'd “figure it out.”

At first, it was pretty easy. I just uploaded a billion pictures to Facebook (like any other new mother). But life got busy, like it always does (especially with a baby who is now a toddler and runs around with the energy and destructive force of the Tasmanian Devil). I sent pictures in the mail. We visited. But as time has gone on, and life has gone on... I've gotten much less consistent in my communication. And that makes me feel guilty. Especially since I love his birth family to death and we get along so well. Sometimes the distance makes me sad and I wished we lived closer.

The thought occurred to me at one point that it would've been nice to have that open adoption agreement to fall back on – to know that even when things get busy I'm still doing enough to include my son's birth family in his life, even if I could only manage to do what we agreed on and nothing more. But then I realized at any point in time a standard could be set on what is expected out of this open adoption. Just because we didn't write anything up in the beginning doesn't mean I can't come to a conclusion about being consistent now. I just have to start doing it. So, I sat down and wrote out what I thought would be important to send on a regular basis and how often we'd like to try and visit, what bare minimum would look like in busier times, etc. Done. That was so simple. Why was I making it so difficult and worrying over nothing?

I know that the success of his open adoption in large part depends on the choices we make to reach out and include his first family in his life. He is too young to establish that relationship for himself, so it is our job to do that for him... so that the relationship will already be there waiting for him when he has questions and needs that connection (I call it “returning to the well”). That's why I let myself feel guilty and I let myself wonder if I'm doing enough, because it is so important. If any of his birth family is reading this, they are probably laughing at me for over-worrying, because I'm pretty sure they think we do an awesome job at keeping things open! 

This year, I want to be more consistent. But my main resolution is to give myself a break and realize that I truly am doing the best I can to be a mother... and an adoptive mother in an open adoption... and a wife... and every other role that I try to fill. There is so much to do in life! So many things that are important to me. I can't go all out with everything all the time, ya know? My heart's in the right place, I think. And this year is definitely a new beginning. A time to celebrate what we've done right and release some of the guilt and anxiety that we let build up... over nothing, really. I think the majority of us are doing better in life than we think we are. We can make goals to be a little more this and a little less that. But we should also take some time to pat ourselves on the back. :)
 





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Holidays 2012

I feel like Christmas started back in October! "The holidays" this year have all blurred together into one long celebration.

It all started with a trip home to see all of our fams (including Kal's birth family) back in October, that included Halloween.

Running around with some of his early Christmas presents from my mom. He got lots of Dr. Seuss books and a little backpack to keep them in. He loves that thing!

Then I cooked a huge meal for Thanksgiving.

I didn't decorate for Christmas last year since we were out of town, so I almost forgot this year! But I busted out our old raggedy fake tree and called it good. :) I even forgot to put up our nativity! Dang. There was just too much happening around here for me to get around to decorate. Hopefully next Christmas will be different in that aspect, because I love the warm and cozy feeling of a home decorated for Christmas... drinking hot chocolate and looking at the Christmas tree lights... mmmmm...

Helping me decorate the tree. He thinks everything is a "ball," so he was hollering BALL!
every time I hung up any round ornaments.

I was inspired to make a cute little picture frame with all the things Zay and I are grateful for this year. That was the extent of my decorating really. I'm still learning how to be domestic. :)


I totally put that I was grateful for garbage men and correctable eyesight. Zay kept saying "sex, sex, sex"... but every time he said it, I put something different - "beauty, affection, intimacy." LOL.

Then we celebrated Festivus. So fun!

Then there was the Church Christmas party. It really helped me settle into the Spirit of Christmas. At one point I excused myself from the table where everyone was so cheerful - talking, singing, eating - and went out in the hallway. I leaned against the glass door looking outside and just stared out into the dark for a few minutes. The snow was gently falling. When snow blankets the ground, it seems to drown out all sound. The peace and calmness of the moment was incredible. It was one of those moments that I'll always remember. I could hear the people back at the party singing in the distance, and I just took a deep breath and thought about all the people I love who weren't with me. Then I remembered the people who were right there with me and would always be right there with me and I returned to the party.






Christmas Eve, Kal got to see his cousin Evander! We haven't seen him in about 6 months, so I was sooooo happy to get to see him again! Missed that little munchkin so much! He is so grown up now. Sigh...

Accidental pic. I kinda liked it. :)



Ha ha ha... attempt at an impromptu snowman (I haven't made very many of these in my lifetime).

The snow was crazy Christmas Eve! I loved it!

There were lots of worms in the snow! Creepy! I tried to save them all and put them back somewhere safe.

Christmas Day was awesome. I loved seeing Kal so happy to have new things to destroy, ha ha. He was spoiled by family, so we only personally got him one thing. He's so young and so happy with nothing, really. It doesn't seem important to me right now to buy him a billion gifts. I just spent the entire day being his buddy and doing whatever he wanted... it was a beautiful day. Loved having Zay home from work. We watched Christmas movies (his favorites - Scrooged and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) and had a fabulous day at home. Just what I needed after traveling so much last Christmas.

This definitely needs documenting. Moo Moo lays like this ALL THE TIME. I don't get it. Lol!






Karaoke party! Kal was hitting all kinds of notes. Had us CRACKING UP!

We got ourselves the usual gifts - whatever updated entertainment center stuff we need. So we have the Wii U now with a few games (ZombiU!! Whoo hoo!) and a Roku box for the bedroom so we can watch HBO Go and Netflix and listen to Pandora, etc. I always get Zay one spiritual gift of some kind. This year I got him this canvas picture of Jesus carrying His cross. He immediately said, "That's kinda graphic, ain't it?" Lol. I said, "What? Are you kidding me? We watch "The Passion of the Christ" every Easter!" Not the reaction I thought he was gonna give it. I thought it was pretty dang awesome! Ha ha.


Lots of journals for me. Enough to last me (maybe) through 2013.

We also planned to have an entirely vegan Christmas Day. That was fun! Wasn't even my idea, but it totally sounded like me. Vegan blueberry pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast. Big salad for lunch with lots of spinach, dried cranberries, and almond slivers. Boca burgers and spanish rice and sweet potato fries for dinner. Soymilk and lots of water to drink. It was nice after having so many big meals up to that point. And a good starting point for the upcoming New Year and our re-dedication to being healthy.

We couldn't end Christmas without a party, though. So we partied it up with some friends a few days later. Watching funny Youtube videos and playing card games way into the night. Loved it! :)

Then New Year's Eve was spent at some more friends' house, eating dinner and playing cards until everyone with kids needed to get them to bed. Ahhhh, the life of parents! Ha ha. Zay and I stayed up till 2am watching our favorite shows on Netflix (currently Medium) and had our own private party as soon as Kal was asleep. 2013 is off to a great start already. :)




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