Garrett's Adoption Story, Part II

As I mentioned yesterday, I was able to take care of Garrett immediately following his birth. Rick was on the outside of the glass wall taking photos and videos. He said it was surreal to watch me take care of our baby, while the birth family stood next to him. They were so gracious to give us those first few moments. Because Garrett was not technically ours yet, they could have shut us out, but instead, they insisted that I have that time with Baby G. I later thanked them for that time, but I don't think my words did my feelings any justice.

Once Garrett was able to leave the nursery, we left the hospital for lunch and to allow BM and her family to see him. I couldn't wait to get back to him, so we ate quickly. When we arrived back at the hospital, we were given a tiny room in the NICU. Garrett wasn't in need of the NICU, but the hospital was full and this was simply the only place they had for us. As we waited for him to be brought to us, Rick and I talked excitedly about our new baby, but our conversation was interrupted by Rick's cell phone. Long story short, as I held Garrett, Rick talked to our realtor to learn that our CO home had just sold, as it had been on the market since Christmas for our impending move to TX. Imagine that, our house sold on the same day of Garrett's birth! That definitely felt surreal!

We spent the next two days in and out of the hospital spending time with Garrett. The moment of truth finally arrived on Friday, February 4th. If BM truly wanted us to parent her baby, she had to sign relinquishment papers before leaving the hospital. It was a nerve-racking time for everyone. BM asked to see Garrett one more time, and I fell apart. I knew that she needed to see him, and I wanted her to see him, but I had a hard time trusting that she would follow through. It seemed like an hour passed, but it was probably only a few minutes before she asked to see us.

My heart pounded in my chest, as I walked into her room to find her holding him with tears rolling down her cheeks. I hugged her, and I said, "I'm sorry this hurts so much." She combed his hair and kissed him and then said, "Are you ready to take him?" With tears streaming down my face and a catch in my voice, I said, "I'm ready to take him, if you're ready for me to take him." She handed him to me. I hugged her again and said, "I'm sorry this hurts so much, but I thank you for giving me such joy in completing my family. And we will tell him about you. We'll never forget you, because he looks just like you." And I meant every word of it! She was and is the true picture of a birth mom...the heart break was evident, yet she knew that he needed more than she could give him.

I haven't seen or heard from BM since that day. Her sister and I occasionally email each other, and I'm grateful to have that contact with Garrett's birth family.

Over the last two years, I have grown to love Garrett more every day, as any other mother would. He is what we all call "my child". He's so much like me that my mom swears he somehow received my DNA. If he's happy, his giggle makes the world go 'round. If he's sad, look out! Yet he's extremely loving! He's bright, speaking in full sentences for a while already. He loves music. And he's my go-go man, always looking for a ride around town. He's a leftie; I always wanted a leftie!

If we had gotten Jack "on time", at birth, we would never have been open to adopting Garrett. God knew exactly what He was doing, when He took Jack away from us. He knew that we needed Garrett, too. And I am so glad that He worked that plan into my life.

Oh, Garrett, you know that I love you!
Happy Birthday, love bug!

Garrett's Adoption Story, Part I

Garrett is my baby, by 26 days. Yes, that's days, not months and certainly not years. He will have his second birthday on February 2nd, Groundhog Day. In honor of his big day, I'd like to share his adoption story. (If you have not read Jack's adoption story, you will better understand Garrett's, after catching up on Jack's. His story begins here.)

For those who have read Jack's story, please remember that his adoption was on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again. At one point during Jack's off-again saga, Rick began calling around to find us another baby. I know that may sound silly or even harsh, to look for another baby so quickly, but we had been through this too many times, and we knew that nothing would heal our hearts better than another infant.

In one day, we were told of three baby boys to be born within three weeks' time that still needed families. One of those three babies' stories pulled at my heart. I remember Rick saying, "There's a biracial boy to be born next month in Oklahoma City. His birth mom has had three couples turn her down." This pulled at my heart because I knew what it was like to think that you have an adoption in place, but the "deal" falls apart somewhere along the way. I told Rick, "Call about that one. We need to know more. In the meantime, I'll call Louisiana to see when they're sending our money back." (There was still some cash left in our "Jack account".)

My call to Louisiana was the call in which I discovered Jack's adoption was on-again. We quickly changed plans to travel to Louisiana to pick him up. However, Jack's birth mom didn't show, again. We were devastated, of course. While we began driving back home to Colorado, I heard God speak to me in an almost audible voice, "The Oklahoma baby needs you." I sat up and told Rick to make the call to the OK agency. Instead of driving home, we drove to Oklahoma to meet birth mom (BM) the next day.

Liam and my parents were with us on this trip, so we all dressed our best and tried to calm our nerves the morning of the meeting. When BM arrived, I had a hard time speaking, because I couldn't help but think, "Oh God, this is it. She will decide today if she wants us to parent her baby!" No pressure! I don't remember much about the meeting. I just remember watching her and thinking, "She's carrying my baby. I want to touch her belly. I want to hug her." In the end, I did just that. And she called 30 minutes after our departure to let us know that she had chosen us to parent her baby.

Over the next three weeks, we heard from BM weekly, which was a requirement we made based on our past experiences. She would call after each doctor's appointment to let me know that she and baby were fine. Eventually, her doctor set an inducement for February 1st, in order for us to make travel arrangements to be at the hospital.

Although I felt pretty certain that we would get this baby we named Garrett, I was still nervous during the waiting period. On January 31, we left Liam with his grandmother and drove to OKC. I was a bundle of nerves, but I remember a song that spoke peace to me while riding in the car. Rick had bought me a new CD that morning by Chris Rice. This portion of "Everything's Ok" spoke to me...

I dreamed and prayed through the night

"Please send some grace with Your morning light"

Then He sent you along like a summer day

With a blue-sky smile on your funny face

And a bird flew by singing, "Everything's gonna be okay!", yeah

So we laughed all day with the man in the moon

And we thanked the Good Lord for the afternoon

'Cause He showed me His love by sending me you

And it's okay, now

Everything's okay

And I looked out the car window and saw a blue sky and a bird, just like the song portrayed. And I knew that everything was going to be okay!

The next morning was D-Day (Delivery Day), February 1. We went to the hospital, where we were able to meet BM's two sons, her sister, mother, step-father and uncle. BM and her family were so warm and welcoming to us. They each embraced us and wanted to get to know us. We were able to get pictures and video of all of them. It was a really special time for us.

We spent the day going in and out of BM's room and just...waiting, like most expectant couples. Garrett did not cooperate, however, and the doctor stopped inducement in the late afternoon. He wanted BM to get some rest and would reevaluate the next morning. We left a little nervous, because we were afraid that the doctor would send her home, which left us questioning if we should go home to CO or stay put in OK.

We decided to stay in OK for the night, and we called to check on BM from IHOP the next morning. She said, "I'm at a 5, and it's moving along nicely." What?! We had no idea that anything had happened over night. We rushed to the hospital with a healthy dose of adrenaline, and Garrett was born within an hour.

I was not in the room when he was born, but I got the next best thing! Garrett was brought to me within twenty minutes of his birth. And I got to carry him to the nursery and watch over him. I gave him his first bath and bottle! Those were the best bonding moments for us. I talked to him, cried over him, kissed his sticky newborn skin.

The nurses probably thought I was loony. In fact, they kept looking at me with this pitiful look, as if to say, "Oh, honey, don't get attached. He's not yours yet." But I didn't care, because I knew that God had promised that everything was okay.

Please join me tomorrow for the finishing touches to Garrett's story.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Remember God First

As encouraged by our pastor, I decided to begin speaking to God first thing in the morning. Some of you may say, "What? You don't pray first thing in the morning?" No, sadly, I don't. I'm a terrible morning person, and I hardly speak to my husband, who is physically in my house. I'm not very good about remembering to talk to God until the first catastrophe of the morning strikes. And, then, I go to God with, "Father, I forgot to start this day correctly...."

I decided that I need a little reminder of some sort. I asked myself, "What do I do every morning, no matter what?" I go to the bathroom, and I'm sure you do, too. So, I taped a little reminder above my toilet paper dispenser. It simply says, "Remember God first." I know it's silly, but it works! God doesn't mind that I talk to him from the potty.

Sorry, no photo available. I'm not comfortable showing a photo of my toilet area on the internet!

For more tips on making life easier, please visit Shannon's blog.

The Reason I Blog

One of the reasons I wanted my own blog was to write about the silly things that I witness on a day-to-day basis. Most of those crazy things occur in my own home with my boys. But today's giddy topic was witnessed at Bible study. As I told you last week, the study begins in a large room, where women of all ages meet for worship and a short devotional. I sat myself down in this large room next to mommies approximately my own age. We began talking amongst ourselves, until I let out a giggle and turned to my closest friend to say, "That is the topic for my blog today!" That is pink hair lady.

I have never in my life witnessed an elderly lady with pink hair. Yes, I've seen blue hair on grandmas. And I've seen pink hair on those twenty-something girls that think they're being trendy. But my eyes have never spotted Pink Hair Granny. I tell you, I had to contain the urge to let out a belly laugh!

I am certain that she is a sweetheart, because her body language left me feeling warm and fuzzy. But her hair, oh my word! I wanted to wrap my arms around her, take her to my car, drive her to WalMart (because I'm sure that's where she purchased her pink hair), walk her to the hair dye aisle, and help her choose a better box of Clairol. Then, I would wrap my arms around her again, take her back to my car, drive her to my house, where I would wash her hair and turn her into a much more becoming color of brunette. Really, I think she should let her hair be its beautiful hue of silver, but since she is clearly not okay with being silver-headed, I'll allow her to color her hair brown.

I'd like to think that I would be okay with a head full of silver. But I've already found myself plucking the stray gray that appear every few months. I'm sure that once more gray appears, I'll be coloring over them. But I will not, I repeat, I will not walk on this earth with pink hair. I will not be a Pink Granny or a Pink Panther! Pink is just not my color.

3 Years 9 Months

I'm not certain at which age I should expect Liam to call me "Mom", instead of Mommy, but I am most certain that 3 years 9 months is too young! He has called me Mom three times today. The first time, I ignored it. The second time, I replied with "Yes, Liam." The third time, I said, "Excuse me? I'm Mommy!" At which point, he giggled, so I'm certain that I'll be hearing it all the time!

To top that, he rolled his eyes at me during lunch. Rolled his eyes! He was slurping water from his cup, as if he has never been taught a single table manner in his life, of which I can assure you he has! I told him to stop. Instead of stopping, he rolled his eyes and continued! The audacity! At which age am I to expect such sassiness? (Is "sassiness" a word? I might've made that up.) Again, I am sure that 3 years 9 months is too young!

My mother and husband are having a good laugh over this, I'm sure. Yes, I'm an eye-roller. I roll my eyes so often that I honestly don't even realize I'm doing it. Again, I tell you, Liam is too young to pick up on this habit, I mean trait.

What's a mother to do?!

Friday's Funny

Jack and Garrett were both sitting in the computer room with me yesterday. They were happily talking to one another. I was happily typing an email, until I suddenly caught an undeniable smell. I asked, "Who has poo poo?" They both grinned, pointed to the other and giggled. No one wants to take the blame around here!

It's Been a Hard Day's Night

We played hard this morning, and Jack just couldn't make it home.

Works For Me Wedesday: Marble Jars

Today's edition of WFMW will focus on positive reinforcement (a.k.a. reward system). Marble jars are an easy yet effective way of praising young kids. Each one of my boys has their own plastic jar that is decorated with stickers to clarify whose jar belongs to whom. I use the smallest of my kitchen canisters to hold extra marbles.

My boys get marbles for various things, such as being kind, eating a good meal, being helpful, reciting a memory verse, etc. If they do something over-the-top fantastic, then they might get numerous marbles at one time. It takes a long to time to fill the jar, but when that happens, the boys are rewarded with something tangible. For example, Liam's first reward was a ticket to the Texas Rangers game with Daddy and Big Daddy.

As the boys get older, I may remove marbles for poor behavior. I haven't done that yet, because I want to focus on the positive at this time.

I recently began putting the jars on this serving tray, so that I can easily move the jars around the house for different activities. For instance, I take it to the table to encourage good table manners. I also move it to the floor when we're working on something such as a counting game.

This is also a cheap way of praising kids. I found our marbles at Hobby Lobby for $4, and I've also seen them at the Dollar Tree. The boys' plastic jars came from Wal Mart for $1.98 each. If you don't have a spare kitchen canister for the extra marbles, you could use any plastic bowl that you already own. The serving tray is optional but a nice bonus. The rewards can be any dollar amount that you extra hug is free!

My boys love receiving marbles. If I don't think to give them one, they will remind me. Kids want to be praised!

For other helpful tips on making life easier, visit Shannon's blog.

Questions to Ponder

I began attending a new Bible study last Tuesday, which I'm really enjoying. A large group of women meet at the church where we worship together and hear a short devotional before breaking into smaller groups for more topical studies.

Today's devotional struck a chord with me. I will not share the name of the woman who shared today, because, first of all, I didn't ask her permission. Second, if I mention her name, you will all know who I am talking about, because she is/was married to a famous man, and I don't want you to focus on that. The title of her devo was "What I Have Learned Since September 26th", because she lost her dear husband a mere three months ago.

She proceeded to stand before a large number of women and share how she found her husband's body and how she has carried on since that day. I was astounded by her ability to stand before us and so eloquently describe how she wandered the house in search of him, after he did not answer her calls. Once she found him, she knelt down to check for a pulse, which she did not find, and then she put her ear to his chest to hear nothing but peace. She was able to stand before us and share such detail without a tear.

She then proceeded to tell us how she missed him so much one night that she asked God to please allow her to dream about her beloved that night. She fell asleep at 12:01, and she saw her "Cuddle Bear" in a dark hallway with a warm light behind him. She asked him how heaven was for him. He responded with, "It's music. It's light." She awakened at 12:04. God heard her cry and gave her three minutes with her husband, and those three minutes have taught her to be happy for him.

She has chosen to focus on how he no longer suffers from illness or pain. I think we're probably all guilty of saying this to a new mourner: "At least he/she is no longer suffering." We mean well when we say it, but how does it really feel to hear that when the loss is so fresh? Yet, she has taken it to heart and has decided to be happy for his well-being, instead of focusing on her own hurt. Yes, I'm sure she still hurts over his absence, but she is being self-less.

So, I ask myself, could I be happy for Rick, if he should leave this earth before me? Could I swallow some of my crying to realize that he is truly better off?

When we broke up into our smaller groups, my group began discussing the topic of releasing our children into God's hands. (We're studying The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian, which I highly recommend to all parents!) I realize that God loves and cares for my children far more than I do. But how far am I willing to go to actually release them to God?

One mom even mentioned a friend who had lost a young child suddenly and the grief that family suffered. But another woman quickly added, at least that child never had the opportunity to turn away from God. So, I quietly began to ponder that thought. If my boys died suddenly in the next couple of years, could I be happy for them? Happy that they never had to face the true difficulties of the teen years, college years, and then adulthood. Could I be happy for my baby, that he never had to be hurt by this world? And, then, what would hurt me more...for my baby to die young and to undoubtedly go to heaven, or for him to live a full life on earth but possibly choose to turn away from God?

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I want my boys to follow me into a God-fearing faith. I pray that my boys' faiths are stronger and deeper than mine. I will be deeply grieved if they turn their backs to God. But I ask myself this: Am I willing to say that I would rather my child die now than to live for the world?

I know this is heavy stuff! But I thought I would share this topic to get all of us to question how far are we willing to release our loved ones into our Father's hands?

Heavenly Father, I ask you to stretch and grow my faith. Show me where I need to let go. I want for my children, my husband and myself to know you at such a deep level that we can entrust you with one another. If you choose to take one or more of them before taking me, I pray that my faith will be ready to say, "Go forth, loved one, and enjoy heaven. I am okay."

Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV) "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"

Sanctity of Life

Yesterday was Sanctity of Life Sunday. As I read that tidbit of information from the church's bulletin, I wanted to ponder that thought...for a long time. But we were quickly run through the scheduled events of worship, Communion, sermon, prayer and announcements, and then we were all hustled out the doors for the next round of church-goers to have a place to sit. That hurt me. Why? Because life is sacred, holy. Thus, Sanctity of Life deserves more than a little blurb in the bulletin. A mere two sentences felt like, "oh, by the way, millions of babies have been aborted in our country, so be sure and stop by our welcome center to see how you can help our local crisis pregnancy center."

I'm not going to mention the name of the church. It's not my home church, as I was visiting my parents' church yesterday. I have no idea what "my" church had to say about Sanctity of Life yesterday, so I'm really not trying to "knock" this church. What I am trying to "knock" is our country as a whole. Hello, Americans, does anyone out there care that nearly 45 million babies' lives have been cut short by human hands?!

When I was 13 years old, I vowed to myself and to God that I would never, ever sit by and allow abortion to be spoken in favor of in my presence. And there have been times where I have had to swallow my fear and tell an outspoken pro-choice person how I feel about conception and life. I also vowed that I would never vote for a pro-choice politician, and, as we're beginning to hear about the 2008 Presidential elections, I will be researching which candidates that leaves as my options, which will probably be very few.

When I made those vows, I had no idea that I was infertile. I had no inkling that I would adopt three boys. I certainly had no idea that my baby Garrett would come from a birth mom who had chosen to abort three times prior to choosing adoption. God placed this fire inside me, the fire to fight for the unborn. So, when I read the blurb in yesterday's bulletin, it tugged at my heart.

Is life sacred to you? Then, please stand up and talk about it. Let's not be quiet any longer! As the election process winds up, be bold! I will!

If your church and/or family had something inspiring take place in honor of the sanctity of life yesterday, could you please tell me about it in my comment section? Thank you!

Another blogger that I keep up with wrote a good post on this topic as well. If you'd like to read it, please go see Susie's place.

I Do Love You!

Mem Fox is one of my favorite children's authors. In college, I created an entire reading unit using only her books. She has a way of writing a book that touches the heart! Who wouldn't want to curl up with a wonderfully illustrated children's book that will leave them with a warm, fuzzy feeling?!

Recently, I checked out Fox's Koala Lou from our local library. The story is of a young koala who feels safe and secure as her mother's first-born. When she does something sweet, her mother shows her affection by saying, "Koala Lou, I do love you!" As time passes, Koala Lou becomes an older sister many times over, and she feels that her mother no longer loves her. In an effort to gain her mother's attention and affection, Lou decides to train for a tree climbing contest, hoping that first place would gain her mother's approval. The big day arrives, and despite her giant efforts, Lou is defeated in the competition, leaving her feeling even worse. However, her mother quickly comes to her side to tell her of her unfailing love. My boys loved the story, and we read it many times before returning it to the library. Honestly, I teared up each time I read it to them.

Perhaps all first-borns feel like Koala Lou. Being the one and only child for some time, they are doted upon by all family members. Then, siblings come along, which cause mommy's time and attention to be diverted. I often feel an ache in my heart for Liam, my first-born. He has been a true pride and joy for our entire family. I suppose a lot of our excitement for him was because of our long fight with infertility and failed adoptions, but maybe we were just like you as new parents. We filmed, photographed, and journaled his every coo, smile, and minor milestone. But we quickly added two brothers to his life, and I often feel a sadness for Liam, because I know that I am busier with two more kids. Because I know that he still needs one-on-one time with me, I make sure that he gets an hour of my time every afternoon. We play games, read books, practice reading skills, whatever...we're just together. But I still feel that twinge in my heart that says, "Liam Edward, I do love you!"

Just yesterday, he suddenly told me, "Mommy, I do love you!" It took me by surprise, as it's been a few months since we've read that book. I took a deep breath to steady my voice, and I responded with, "I do love you!" He's said it several more times this weekend, and I hope it will continue. Because I know he says it to remind me that he needs that special moment with me.

Please get your hands on a copy of Koala Lou! You will enjoy its innocence, and your kids will be able to relate to Lou's need for mommy. I bet you'll walk around your house saying it..."I do love you!"

In An Effort to Sleep In

Saturday is the one day of the week that I attempt to sleep in. Sleeping until 7:30 would be divine! It's not Rick's alarm or shower that awakened me this morning, nor any other Saturday. It's not the children, because Jack and Garrett haven't figured out how to climb out of their cribs, and Liam has a reward system in place for waiting in bed.

However, my Boston Terrier, Winston, came waddling into my room at 7:00. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn't jump on my bed. I should also be glad that it was 7:00 and not 6:59, where I might be forced to throw my pillow at him. Instead, he came in sniffing, snorting and stretching to let me know that it was time to get the day started.

I love Winston. He's a good dog. But I need to think of a reward system for him to let me sleep in. Any ideas?

Friday's Funny

This is being pulled from my Funny Things Kids Say journal, dated June 2006.

On a walk, we spotted an American flag. I proceeded to explain to the boys what it is, and we talked about the colors, stripes, and stars. Later that same day, while riding in the car, Liam (3 years) shouted, "Look, Mommy, it's the hamburger flag!"

American, hamburger, two in the same, I guess. Happy Friday!

The Conspiracy Continues

Earlier, I spoke of the weather forecasters creating a conspiracy over the weekend that caused all of D/FW to remain indoors for the ice storm that never was, or at least, it wasn't the ice storm that everyone needed to bar the door for. Well, the plot thickens! We went to bed Tuesday night with the forecast of cold but dry in our area. South Texas was supposed to be hit with the wintry weather this time around.

6:15 am Wednesday, Rick's radio alarm sounded with something to this effect: "...snow on the roads. Be careful." Huh? Surely not! Surely they didn't feed us with lies twice in one week! Rick got up to look out the window, and sure enough, there was white stuff on the ground and still falling from the sky.

I'm a big kid with snow. I just love it! Living in Texas for our second winter now, I have missed cold weather and the pretty white stuff. Normally, Texas winters are extremely mild. I hardly wore a jacket last winter. But, much to my surprise and delight, we are having a real winter this year!

So, here goes. This is what we did with our snow day yesterday.

Daddy stayed home with us, because Texans do not know how to drive when the temperature falls to at-or-below freezing.

We sledded! For all of you that know what real snow is, don't laugh at us! We've lived in Colorado, so we know that this is merely a "dusting". Like I said, I love snow and I have missed it, so humor me!

And we shaved our heads. Well, I didn't allow my head to be shaved, but the boys got fresh cuts. What better occasion to shave heads than when the temperature dips below freezing!

Stay tuned...the confederates, I mean forecasters, are plotting, I mean predicting, more wintry weather Friday night. Perhaps I'll shave my head.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Blanket Time

Do you need a little break from the tantrums, fighting, whining? Go to a five-star hotel. No! Although a weekend at the five-star would be heavenly, what I have to offer you today is a bit more frugal. If you're like me, you need a a little time every day when you know your children can play peacefully. Blanket time is one of my favorite times of the day.

Each child is given a quilt to sit on in our game room with a couple of toys and books of my choosing. I set a timer for 45 minutes, and the boys are required to stay on their own blanket to play and read. I play praise music and read quietly in the same room.

We have blanket time in the mid-morning. The boys' tummies are still satisfied from breakfast. They are dressed, and they've had time to play together. Blanket time brings calm to each one of us. It brings structure to our day. It also gives the boys some healthy boundaries in their play time.

You set the time, duration, location, and activities to fit your lifestyle. I guarantee you'll feel more peace in your home!

If you would like more tips on making your life easier, see Shannon's blog.

Children's Bible Suggestions

This is the children's Bible that we have had since Liam was a baby. Quite frankly, I'm bored with it. We've read it cover to cover twice, but his favorite stories have been read countless times. That "big fish story" is the most favored Biblical tale around here.

I think what I'm so tired of is the rhyming. Honestly, I never liked poetry. For those who can write it well, kudos to you. But, for me, my world does not exist in rhyming patterns. My world runs on run-on sentences. And fragments. And the occasional paragraph.

I went over to to do a quick search on what should be our next children's Bible. Good grief! Do you know how many results appeared? 13,425. The good news is that there are that many Bibles out there for kids. The bad news is that there are that many Bibles out there. I mean, how in the world do I choose one from 13,425? So, how about I just cut to the chase....

What children's Bible(s) can you recommend to me for my preschoolers? Please post a comment with the title of your most favorite. Thanks!

Conspiracy Theories

We have been couped up in this house since Friday afternoon. The forecasters had a conspiracy going amongst themselves, according to my husband. The conspiracy was to get all of Dallas/Fort Worth residents to believe that we were to be socked in with 2 inches of ice all weekend. They said that it would begin Friday night and continue through Sunday. So all of D/FW rushed to the grocery store to stock up on food, and then we tucked ourselves into our warm huts.

We got up Saturday morning to nothing, nada, zilch. Okay, it might have spit, I mean sprinkled, slightly during the night, but it was nothing to remain couped up for. As soon as we crawled out of bed, we turned on our television to see what the conspirators were saying. They still plotted that ice was on its way, so we remained indoors and tried to remain sane. I mean, we had a great time playing tents, blocks, play dough, etc. It did rain off and on all day, and it was very cold, but we still didn't have ice on our roadways. But we continued to believe the conspiracy. "We better not go out to eat, because we might get stranded at McDonald's with two inches of ice on the road. God forbid, we get stuck at McDonald's!" No, that would not be good for my sanity!

We planned to skip church, still believing the counterplot. Still no ice when we got up Sunday! Again, we glued ourselves to the screen to see what the confederates, I mean forecasters, might add to the lies. "Folks, it's still coming." Okay, okay, we'll stay home all day. We pulled out the toys from the top of the boys' closets. (You know, the toys that you wish your kids would forget about because of the umpteen-million pieces, but they don't forget, so you keep them out of reach for days such as these.) And Rick and I counted down the hours until nap time and then bedtime. Really, we love our children immensely, but these munchkins can only be so fun when they have been couped up for 48 hours.

At 5:00 pm Sunday, I told Rick, "You should go to Blockbuster and get us a movie. There's probably nothing good left on the shelves, but you should go see anyway." He's such a good man, he did just that. He came home with the first four episodes of 24. That's right, we've never seen 24. Gasp! I know, I know. Many of you have been avid fans since season one, and I've heard so many people rave about their beloved show. So, we joined the 24 conspiracy last night. We watched all 4 episodes back to back, and we loved it! We're hooked! I will go get the next set of episodes as soon as I can get out of this house.

The weather conspirators finally got something right. The roads did ice last night. But all roads were clear and nearly dry by lunch. Since we stayed home all weekend, call us gullible.

He Really Wants Me to Write About Him

So, here goes. Rick. My husband, companion, confidante.

One night last week, he came home from the gym quite proud of his workout. He told me that he did this, that and the other. Most of the details I have since forgotten. But I do remember this one snippet...
Rick: I played basketball at the end.
Ami: (with surprise) You did?
R: Yep. I'm pretty good.
A: What, was it a Little Tykes basketball goal?

You see, my husband is all of 5'8" with shoes on! We are vertically challenged in this house. I'm all of 5'1", so I can't really talk. But at least I don't try to claim talent on the basketball court.

And he was playing by himself, so there was no competition for him. There were also zero eye witnesses.

But I love him, so I write about him.

He's actually sitting behind me right now playing his guitar. I'm still not certain of his basketball abilities, but I am certain that he is diversified. His Bachelor's is in Russian, which he used to teach English overseas for a time. His first Master's is in Applied Linguistics, which he used to teach to international students in the good ole USA. Then, he taught himself some technical writing skills, which he used to do some techie stuff that I don't understand. And, finally, three years ago, he decided to get his MBA and become an IT Auditor. He's a good cook, a wonderful husband, and an even better daddy. What more could I ask for?

I love you, Ricky!

Friday's Funnies

I posted a funny last week, but Blogger did something weird with it, which led me to delete it altogether. It was a good one, so I'd like to try it again today.

Last Friday morning, the boys were watching a little television, while I cleaned up the kitchen. A Chuck E. Cheese's commercial came on, and it caught every one's attention with its obnoxious noise level. When it ended, Liam said, "Mommy, Chuck E. Jesus!"

For those who read that funny last week, here's another one from Liam. He was watching the school bus driving through our neighborhood the other day, and he said, "Mommy, I go to high school tomorrow." I stifled my laugh and said, "Bubba, I think I would miss you too much. Can you stay home tomorrow? And you can go to preschool next year." He seemed okay with that idea.

You Know You're Raising Boys When...

You open your, um, "undergarments" drawer and find a mini high-bounce ball!

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Eating Healthier

Shannon has asked that this week's edition of WFMW be a healthy recipe. Y'all, cooking is not my "cup of tea". I cook, because my family needs to eat something besides hot dogs, but nearly every meal that I cook contains at least one mistake. It's no joke that I frequently poke fun of myself at the dinner table by saying, "Mommy's done it again. Sorry, boys, but you know that I can't cook without ruining something."

I won't share a recipe with you, because you really don't want me to! I will, however, share a website that I've enjoyed browsing. It's They give healthy recipes, as well as suggestions in fitness. You can even submit one of your own recipes, and they will consider "healthifying" it for you. It's a user-friendly website, so go on over and check it out!

If you want to hear from cooks with far better culinary skills than I, then see Shannon's blog.

The Filth Calls

Today was supposed to be the day that the children played so well that Mommy was able to clean the entire house. It's 2:45 pm, and Mommy has only cleaned 2 of the 3 bathrooms. That's all that has been done in the cleaning department. That's it. No dusting, vacuuming, or mopping.

Does that tell you how well the children have played today?

Please bear with me, as I take a break from Bloggityville to clean my own villa this afternoon!

If you have figured out how to blog and clean your entire house all in one day, please post a comment!

Help Wanted! *UPDATED*

Before starting my own blog, I was warned that Blogger might frustrate me. I went ahead with Blogger, because of its price (free!), thinking that this would be a trial run to see if I really enjoy blogging. Well, I do! In fact, I love it! I'm eaten up with it! My thoughts throughout the day are about my next post. And I'm constantly wondering what my blogging "friends" are writing about.

I've now been blogging for a whopping three weeks, and I'm frustrated with Blogger. My first complaint is that I can't have a creative look to my blog. It's boring, isn't it? I know it is! But to my knowledge, I'm stuck with the templates Blogger provides. If I'm wrong, please, please, I beg you, post a comment and enlighten me!

My second frustration is with the date setting. If you've noticed, I don't have any dates added to any of my posts. That would be because Blogger uses the date on which I write my draft, not the date that I publish. For instance, in order to participate in Shannon's Works-For-Me-Wednesday carnival, I like to write my draft on Tuesday, but I can't actually post it until the wee hours of Wednesday morning, if I want the date to show up correctly. (Yes, I know that I'm sounding anal. I am anal!) Does anyone out there know how to work around this problem with date settings?

For now, I will just type the date into my title. I'm not a techno wizard, as you can see!

*Gi Bee over at Kisses of Sunshine has enlightened me on how to work with the date settings. Thank you, Gi Bee!

An Epiphany

Being that yesterday was Jack's birthday, we decided to have a day of fun activities. Shortly after breakfast, we piled into our van and headed to the Dallas World Aquarium. I thought Jack would enjoy running around and looking at the variety of animals, but no. He had a sour face most of the two hours we were there, and he wanted to be carried most of the way.

Then, we headed to El Fenix for lunch. Jack would normally devour anything edible put in front of him, but not yesterday. He fussed through much of the meal. He managed to smile twice when the waitress brought him a sopapilla covered with strawberries and whip cream. Twice.

He fell asleep on the way home, so I'll credit his "mood" with fatigue. Yes, he's two years old, but he would still take a morning nap if I allowed it in our schedule.

But did he continue his nap at home? Heck, no! He decided that his 40-minute snooze in the car was ample. I thought otherwise and left him in his bed until the scheduled time.

He was a grump during dinner, too. In fact, he had to go to time-out for one of his I-can't-believe-you-told-me-no fits, when we told him that he couldn't have his cupcake until the entire family had finished eating dinner. (These fits can also be described as a shrill, breathless scream that leaves one wondering if Jack's toenails are being pulled out. But, in fact, his toe nails are all accounted for to this day.)

Finally, everyone had ample time to eat dinner, so we pulled out the cupcakes and candles. Voila! Jackson became happy!

Here is the epiphany...feed birthday boys their cupcakes with breakfast so that everyone can enjoy a happy boy all day.

Jack's Adoption Story, Part IV

When I began writing Jack's story, I had no idea how long it would take me. I also had no idea how healing this would be for me. My heart was pulled too many different directions along the way of his adoption journey. Although I thought that I had made peace with all of the details, writing this has shown me otherwise. Thank you for allowing me this healing process. This is the last installment of his story, and I truly appreciate your readership! (For those who are just tuning in, you can catch up with Parts I-III here, here and here.)

I must admit that I did not call Rick first with the news of Jack's adoption saga take three. I paced the floor at first. Then, I called a friend and our trustworthy caseworker for advice. They both listened to everything I had to say, but they each asked me one important question, "Why haven't you called Rick?" Gulp. I hung up, said a prayer, and called Rick. I told him of Shelly's call, and he immediately said, "When can we get him?" And that's why I was nervous to call Rick. Because he knew how badly we wanted Jack, and I knew he would want to jump in right away. But I didn't feel right about accepting the offer immediately. I felt that we needed to wait 48 hours and pray. That we did.

During that time of prayer, we also played the what-if game. What if we don't take him? Will we ever be able to forgive ourselves? What if we do adopt him? How crazy will life be with a two year-old and two newborns only 26 days apart?! In the meantime, we also talked to Shelly a couple of times to ensure that she was in close contact with BM this time. During one of those calls, we found out that BM had named him Jer'miah. Now, you must know that my all-time favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11. " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " (NIV) I was "sold" on the idea of adopting Jack when I heard his birth-given name. This is exactly what God meant when he told me that He had it all under control.

BM followed through with her promises this time, the third time around. We saw our baby boy for the first time on May 1, 2005 at 8:30 pm. He was nearly 4 months old. He looked at us with his big eyes and his 'fro, as if to say, "Hey, where y'all been?"

When Liam saw him for the first time, I said, "Liam, who is this?" He replied with the biggest smile, "Jack!" And Jack kicked his legs and grinned. That made every moment of the on-again, off-again journey worthwhile to me. We did this to keep these brothers together, and they knew each other instantly.

The next few months were tough. In fact, the next year was the most difficult year of my life. I won't go into great detail, but Jack came to us with signs of neglect. He had reflux that had gone untreated and left him vomiting 40-50 times a day. His nails were so long that they wrapped under his fingers. His hair was so dirty that I cried and became sick to my stomach during every bath for days. But the saddest part was that Jack didn't know how to be loved, and we had to fight his detachment issues from the get-go. I really wondered if he would ever love us. But he does!

God brought us through a lot! From what seemed like the pits of hell to the mountaintops! Now, do you see why my cup runneth over?

Happy 2nd birthday, Jackson Jeremiah!

Jack's Adoption Story, Part III

Thank you for sticking with me on this journey. I told you it was quite an adventure! If you're just stopping in, please see Part I and Part II of Jack's story before picking up today's post. Let's see if I can keep my tears to a minimum. I promise it has a happy ending!

When Rick said it was time to go home, I knew he was right. It hurt worse than any of the other failed adoptions combined, but I knew my husband, the head of my home, was right. It was time to move on. We tried to fly home that day, as well as the next two days, but seats were limited due to the holidays. Finally, by December 26, we couldn't stand it any longer, so we rented a car and drove home. We did our best to remain tear-free in front of Liam, because once the tears began, there were flood gates, and he was too young (20 months) to understand any of it. We made it home that evening, and I went straight to my bed and cried for what was probably hours.

I don't remember the next several days at all. I know that I got up each day and tried to tell myself and everyone else that I was okay, but I continued to question God. "Why in the world are You making me go through this again?!" I remember He very plainly spoke to me in one of my crying fits. He said, "Trust me. I've got you."

By January 8, we were weary, and we knew it was time to make a very important phone call. I actually made this call myself. It had to be me. "Shelly, I need to know how much of our account has not been used and when we can expect to receive a check for that amount. It's time that we move on." Silence fell over the phone. In my mind, I began to panic thinking that all of our money had somehow been used. But Shelly spoke very quietly with this: "She called me yesterday, Ami. I wasn't going to call you until I had more info. She had the baby January 6th, and she still wants to place him with you. She's bringing him tomorrow. I wasn't going to call you until I had him in my arms. She said that her family was pressuring her, and she just needed some time." I was speechless. Was this really happening? Because in the meantime, Rick had found out about three other baby boys that needed to be adopted, and we were ready to make a decision that day. Shelly continued with, "I don't know what you want to do. I know she's put you through a lot. If you want to go ahead with another adoption, I'll send your check tomorrow." No, no, no! Jack was mine back in July when I found out about him! He's Liam's flesh and blood. I couldn't turn him down!

We made plans to drive from Colorado to Louisiana with Liam and my parents to claim our baby. We were ecstatic, to say the least. BM was due to sign relinquishment papers at 2:00 on January 10. 2:00 came and went. No BM. 2:30, 3:00, and so on. At 4:30, I knew she wasn't going to show. Shelly, once again, couldn't reach her by phone. We remained calm and hopeful throughout the evening. At bedtime, I told Rick that he and I were going to the office at 8:30 the next morning. I don't know what I wanted to accomplish through that, but it was one of those moments where I had to do something.

We did exactly that the next morning. Shelly met us at the door with the look that told me everything I needed to know. Without words, she told me that BM had not called or come in. I held my chin up and said, "Then we need you to return our money." And we returned to the hotel to retrieve our one beautiful child, my grieving parents, and our luggage. We were on the road quickly and planned to drive as far as we could in order to get home as soon as possible. The car was quiet, except for mine and my mom's sobs. As I tried to calm down in the back seat, I felt God's presence. He kept me warm, literally warm. Again, He reminded me that he had me in His arms. And I sat up, and said to Rick with absolute assurance, "We need to call the agency in Oklahoma and tell them that we want that bi-racial baby."

[This is where Garrett's story begins. I don't want to leave you hanging, so I will tell you that we went straight to Oklahoma and met Garrett's BM, who delivered three weeks later. Garrett was brought to me within 20 minutes of his birth, and he's been ours ever since! Praise be to God!]

From January 10 to April 2005, our lives were complete chaos. Not only did we lose Jack a second time, but we adopted a newborn, sold our Colorado house, and moved to Texas. Our Colorado house sold so quickly that we had to live with my parents and my in-laws for three-week stints each, until our new home was ready. We were able to move into our new house on April 17, and were so relieved to have a place to call home. We finally felt settled, ahh the relief!

Ring, ring. April 26. "Hi, Ami, it's Shelly." Oh. My. Word. You cannot be calling me, because you don't call me to shoot the breeze! "Hi, Shelly. I'm feeling sick to my stomach. Should I be sitting down?" The conversation went something like this: "BM called and says she's ready to relinquish. She says that she's got uterine cancer and is having a hysterectomy in two days. Now, I don't know how much to believe her. She may be saying that just to pull at your heart. I know you have a newborn, so you can say no, but I wanted to call you first."

Rick was out of town. Liam turned 2 the day before. Garrett was 12 weeks old. We had just moved. "Shelly, I need to think and pray. This is Liam's blood brother. Can I wait a couple days to give you an answer?"

I promise that part IV will be the final installment of the Jackson saga. It will appear tomorrow. See you then! Yes, it's a happier installment!

Jack's Adoption Story, Part II

Thank you for joining me for the second part of Jack's story. If you're just joining in, you can read part I here.

A couple weeks after we told Shelly that we were absolutely interested in adopting Liam's blood sibling, BM's sonogram showed that she was carrying a boy. We were delighted to think that Liam would have a baby brother. I immediately knew that his name would be Jack.

We began preparing our hearts and our home for baby Jack's December due date. In September, we received a phone call from Shelly informing us that BM was having some premature labor. The doctor was able to stop her labor, but she was going to need a procedure to stitch her cervix in order to prolong the inevitable. (I'm sorry I don't know the name of the surgery. Those who have carried babies probably know what I'm talking about. But I've never carried a child, and there are some medical terms that I would rather not know.) In addition, BM would need to be on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. And, oh, by the way, she asked for more money, because she couldn't work from the couch, and she was trying to buy one-half acre for her mobile home.

In my original post, I told you that we have been through eight failed adoptions. These failed adoptions all occurred before we adopted Liam. Most of these babies fell through our hearts as a result of birth moms deciding to parent. Birth moms have the most difficult sacrifice to make when they place their very own flesh and blood up for adoption, so my heart goes out to anyone out there who has ever had to make that decision. But I also must admit that because we had so many birth moms change their minds, and because Liam's BM begged for more money 24 hours before his placement, that I could only be so sympathetic when she asked for more money as a result of being bed-ridden. Rick and I agreed that, although we were very concerned for BM's condition, we could not pay her any additional funds.

Although I knew that this surgical procedure was relatively minor and common, I could not rest. I now look back on that time and recognize that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and trying to prepare me for a rough road ahead. BM did go through with the out-patient surgery without any complications, and for that we were grateful. But even then, I could not relax. We were, however, able to make it through the next couple of months without any mishaps.

In early December, Shelly called to let us know that the doctor was going to induce labor on December 20th. We were thrilled, because we knew that we would hold Jack for the first time on Christmas morning, as a result of Louisiana's five-day relinquishment period. As we were living in Colorado at the time, we made plans to head to Texas to visit family for the five-day waiting period. On December 20th, we tried to stay very busy with our extended family, and we even went house hunting, since we knew that we would be moving back to Texas shortly.

By lunch, we hadn't received a single phone call from Shelly. We had been told that BM was to arrive at the doctor's office early that morning, and since this was her fourth delivery, we fully expected this to go quickly. I was getting very nervous, and I made Rick call for an update. Shelly reported that BM called to say that the doctor's office was unexpectedly closed. I immediately knew that it was happening again. Call it my mother's intuition or whatever you like, but I knew that this was yet another adoption gone wrong. What clinic schedules an inducement and then closes its doors without any explanation? Shelly made many attempts to reach BM by phone that afternoon, yet BM couldn't be found. Shelly was able to contact the doctor's office, and they reported that BM simply didn't show up. My "gut" told me it was over, but my heart held out hope.

We remained in Texas for the next few days. Each day, I would phone all of the hospitals in BM's area to see if she had arrived and/or given birth. With each of those calls, I pretended to be a concerned friend, and with each call, my heart dropped a little further to hear that she was still "missing". After a day or two of that, I began to not only fear that Jack was no longer mine, but I also worried that perhaps BM was roaming the streets. Maybe her family was pressuring her to keep the baby, and she was confused, and she went on a walk and got lost, and.... In my heart of hearts, however, I knew that she would eventually give birth and end up in a hospital somewhere, so I continued my twice-daily phoning ritual and prayer vigil.

By December 24, I had had enough. I remember talking on the phone with my dad and not being able to hold myself together any longer. I stayed strong for four days, because I didn't want Rick to say it was over. Because once he said that, we would have to return to our home where there was an empty nursery. But I just couldn't hold it together any longer when my dad began to tell me how sorry he was. My parents had been through every single failed adoption with us, and they felt the pain right along with us. I remember sobbing into the phone, "I don't know why God thinks I can go through this again. I think eight times is enough! I can't do this again!" And at that, I dropped the phone and fell into a heap. I don't even remember ending the conversation or hanging up the phone. The next thing I remember is Rick picking me up and holding me. We cried together for what was probably the umpteen-millionth time. And then he said it. "We need to go home."

Jack's Adoption Story, Part I

I've promised you in the Coming Soon section of my sidebar that I would share each of my boy's adoption stories. As I've also said here, I'm a woman of my word, so I am sitting down today to begin Jack's story. I begin with Jack because his birthday is this Saturday, January 6th. I hope you'll stick around for its entirety. I will probably need to post in multiple entries, because I will shed a few tears while sharing this adventure with you. It has been quite an adventure!

Which one is Jack, you ask? He's this one. He's also the one in the middle of the photo on my sidebar.

In January 2004, I had a dream that Liam's birth mom (BM) called to tell us that she was pregnant yet again and wanted us to parent the baby. Liam was only 9 months at the time, so I wondered how this dream would work its way through my life. You see, God has this way of speaking to me through my dreams. My dreams often come true, and God prepares my heart and mind for their truth in advance of their reality. I remember telling my husband and parents about this dream the very next day. They each gave me a nervous giggle, because they know all too well how my dreams often work.

Fast forward six months to July 2004. I'm in my basement, just finishing my work-out. Liam is napping. Rick is at work. Ring, ring, ring, ring. I forgot to carry the phone to the basement, and my legs couldn't carry me upstairs fast enough to catch the phone. I waited long enough for a message to go through. "Hi, Rick and Ami. This is Shelly from John Doe's office. Would you please call me when you get a chance?" [Names changed to protect the innocent.] My mind begins to race, my heart to flutter, because I know that Shelly-from-John-Doe's office doesn't call to merely shoot the breeze. She only calls with earth-shattering adoption news, as she is the legal secretary to the attorney we used for Liam's adoption. Gulp.

I begin to dial the number, but I can't do it. I just can't. Click. Instead, I dial Rick's cell phone and tell him about the message. He's quiet at first, but then he manages to speak calmly. "I'll call her. It's probably nothing." We hang up, and I begin to pace the floor. I call my mom and tell her about the message. She tries to tell me it's probably nothing, but then I remind her of that dream. She says something like, "Well, let's just wait and see. Don't get your hopes up." Okay, breathe, sit down, take it easy. Drum fingers. Heart is still pounding in my ears. Ring, ring. It's Rick. "Shelly says that BM has called. She's pregnant and wants to know if we're interested in adopting again." Are we? Yes, yes, we are! Call her back, while I do the wow-God-is-awesome dance.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Candy Jar

This edition of WFMW is multi-purposed. Let me say that I am all about healthy eating, but there are certain occasions that call for candy. Celebration, gluttony, and PMS survival are the top three reasons for keeping those calorie-laden items around in my opinion. But now that it's January, and I have a few pounds to drop, let me tell you why we'll keep the candy jar in our house...bribery!

Liam gets 2 Skittles when he wakes up with dry underwear. He also gets an additional Skittle if he stays in his bed all night without finding his way to my bedroom. Three Skittles have brought much better sleep to my husband and me, because we don't fret over Liam wetting the bed, nor do we awaken at 5 am with his dark shadow in our doorway. Liam knows that we'll come to get him at the appropriate time, and if he's dry, he begins the day with a treat.

Now for the second purpose of this WFMW post...I realize that many of us have sworn off sweets for the new year in hopes to drop those extra pounds that creeped up on us during the holidays. In honor of New Year's resolutions, here is a quick tip for staying out of the candy jar.

Yes, it is merely a Post-it Note that says, "No, No, Mommy!" I realize that some of you might need a padlock for your candy jars, but if you're like me, you just need a friendly little reminder that the holidays are over, and it's time to watch those "waisted" calories. If you need a padlock, then go buy one at Wal Mart. But heaven forbid, do not throw the candy away. Use it for bribery!

And another thing.... Notice that my candy jar has a lid. Candy dishes are way too tempting for me. There must be a lid that requires me to slow down for two seconds to ask myself, "Do I really want to do this?"

For more helpful tips, go see Shannon's place.

Big Sigh of Relief

Sigh of relief. We are back to our normal routine around here. My hubby went back to work today. The boys and I have stuck close to home to enjoy one another's company. We're on our normal schedule. And my type-A personality couldn't be happier! Holidays and vacations are wonderful, but there's something to be said about returning to the norm.

And Liam (3 1/2) is ready for Easter. He asked me this morning if it's time to hunt Easter eggs. Um, no! Let's get through Jack's birthday this weekend, Garrett's birthday in February, Spring Break in March, and then we can talk Easter eggs, Bubba. But for now, please let me relish in the fact that the holiday rush is over. Sigh of relief...again.