Brown is Beautiful

A common question I get as an adoptive mom to black/biracial boys is, "When do the boys notice the difference?" Another common question is, "What do you tell them?"

My boys have each begun to notice their differences at age 3. Yesterday's conversation with Jack is a good example.

The boys were playing in the back yard with the door open, while I was making dinner in the kitchen. Jack came to the door with a white plastic child's chair on his back.

Here is the conversation that took place:
Jack: Mommy, I have a chair on my back, and it's a white backpack. (He has a vivid imagination and can make anything into something else.)

Me: I see that backpack. Cool!

J: I'm white.

M: No, you're brown.

J: Why?

M: Because God made you brown.

J: Why?

M: Because God loves brown skin, and he wanted you to be brown. And you're very handsome.

J: Oh!

And he ran off to play with his "backpack".

It's fun to watch my boys understand the world around them. I feel strongly that they will help the world to become more color blind. Because God is.

Apparently, I Need a Break

You didn't know I was taking a blogging break? Well, neither did I! I normally blog during nap time, but that block of time has been filled with other obligations this week. I'm not sure when life will settle down again, but please be patient while I try to make heads or tails out of my calendar.

When Daddy's Away

Thankfully, Rick does not travel very often. But when he does, something always goes wrong. I posted about Murphy's Law about a year ago. Murphy needs a new law stating something like this: when Daddy travels, something must go wrong.

On one of his last trips, I put a frozen dessert into the refrigerator and shut the door, only to hear the earth shattering. Upon opening the refrigerator, I found the shelf to be shattered into billions of pieces. And those billions of pieces shattered even further when they fell upon my tile floor. I spent the rest of the week steering the children away from the kitchen and picking shards of glass off the floor.

Really, I could go on and on about the different things that go wrong when Rick is gone. Instead, let's focus on this week's mishaps.

On Monday afternoon, the boys decided to pull out the backyard hose and water the trees, even though we just had an inch of rain and it was 45 degrees outside. Nevermind that I told them to not turn on the water. When I discovered this disobedience, each boy proceeded to point to another brother for the blame. They learn early, don't they?!

After dinner on Monday, we had to buy groceries, my favorite past time. We loaded up and took care of this task in record-breaking time. I patted myself on the back, as I pulled into the garage with a trunk load of food in an hour's time. But my pride was quickly dashed, when both of my potty-trained three year-olds wet their pants on their way to bed. Both of them! I got a little bit angry over this. Well, actually, I got a lot angry, and I had to apologize to each of them.

I'm sitting here racking my brain trying to remember what we did on Tuesday, but I flat out can't remember what occurred. But I assure you, Tuesday did exist.

On Wednesday, we needed to run some errands. One of those errands was to run by a new coffee shop, which is supposed to be the location for a mom's coffee that I'm hosting for fellow adoptive moms next Tuesday. The coffee shop is so new that the owner has now decided to not open the doors until Thursday. The invitations for my mom's fellowship...they say "Tuesday". Sheesh! I've since rearranged the event for a new location, in case you're sweating nails like I was.

On our way home from that escapade, one of my children decided to wet his pants. In the car. In his car seat. In a car seat that is the biggest pain to take apart for washing! I swear my children are potty trained, but they all decided to make this week just slightly more challenging for their mama by making her question her every parenting ability.

By Wednesday night, I knew that Liam's asthma was bothering him. I gave him a breathing treatment before bed and prayed that we would make it to morning without a run to the ER. At 11:30 pm, I got up to administer another round of Albuterol. But remember...Daddy is out of town. The breathing machine decided this would be a good time to overheat and flat out quit! An asthma attack in the middle of the night without a breathing machine is a mighty fine scare for a mama that is left behind as a single parent. I spent the next hour in some serious prayer that my baby boy would be able to breathe on his own until 8:30 am. Not that I wanted him to quit breathing at 8:30 am, but at least I could get my hands on a new machine by that time.

God answered my prayer, and Liam was able to rest pretty well through the night. I was able to get a new breathing machine Thursday morning as well.

But guess what happened Thursday afternoon? Another pants-wetting incident. By another nameless child. Yes, this would be the child that has been potty trained for 2 1/2 years, the same one who was trained in 2 days. Don't ask my how to potty train. Apparently, I can get them trained, but I can't keep them trained.

Today is Friday, the day Rick comes home. I had hoped that we would make it through the day without any mishaps, but after only an hour of wake time, Liam dropped my camera on the tile floor. The camera didn't come out on the up and up. I shouldn't have let him have the camera while I was busy and unable to supervise, so it's my fault. But I wonder if this would have even happened if Rick were already home?

Now, I must admit that this week was not a total mess. Here are some positive notes:

1. The wind damage to our roof was assessed at only $189.

2. Our tax return this year is, um, amazing. Thank you, Lord! First purchase: digital camera.

3. Did you read Garrett's prayer at lunch yesterday? And Liam's questions concerning heaven? Their hearts are taking in some good, thanks be to God.

4. As we were singing some songs last night, Liam requested "Jesus Loves the Little Children". As he sang it, he added every family member's name to each verse. For instance, "Jesus loves the little Jacksons, all the Jacksons of the world...." I want my boys to first love Jesus and then their family, so this rendition made my heart swell.

5. When introducing my boys to our new sponsor child through Compassion International, Jack offered to pray for Brian, a 13 year-old boy living in Uganda. "Dear Jesus, please keep Brian safe and happy. Thank you for his family in Afwica."

Well, thank you for sitting through my week's summary. As you can see, our world isn't all rosy, but it's life.

Mr. Murphy, wherever you are, could you please make it official and add a new law that states: Hey, world, whenever the daddy travels, wreak havoc on the CupRunnethOver family.


Catch Up for Daddy

Rick has been out of town this week. Excuse me while I catch him up on some conversations that have taken place today.

I asked Garrett to pray over our lunch. "Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy and Daddy. Thank you for all the bwessings and evwyfing. Jesus, thank you for the cross and taking the nails. But, Jesus, please get better from the nails."

Oh, sweet Jesus, You knew we needed that sweet child!

During lunch, a conversation about heaven took place:
Liam: Will we take our toys with us?
Me: No, we won't need anything in heaven. We'll be wonderfully joyful in heaven without any of our stuff.
Liam: Will we take Winston [our dog] with us?
Me: [Long pause here, as I decided what to share.] No, God will take care of Winston.
Liam: But who will feed him?
Jack: I will feed him!
Me: God will take care of him. Don't worry. Everything will be perfect in heaven.
Liam: No bad dreams or asthma in heaven?
Me: No bad dreams or asthma, baby.
Jack: No awwergies?
Me: No allergies.
All boys: Ohhhh....

Daddy, the boys ask if you're coming home every morning. Hurry home! We miss you!

Lunchtime Conversation

While setting the table, Liam (4 1/2) asked, "When I'm a daddy, can I call you 'Ami"?"

Me: No, I'll always be your mom.

L: Oh! Well, why does Daddy call you 'Mommy'?

M: Well, that is a bit confusing. Sometimes he calls me 'Mommy', but he can call me 'Ami' because he's my husband.

L: Who am I going to marry?

M: I don't know, but we should pray about who that lady will be.

As if I didn't hold enough weight on my heart yesterday, now I have to think about my little boy getting married. Mercy me!

The Weight of the World

I thought about not posting today, but then I looked at my to-do list and decided that blogging looks much more inviting.

What should we discuss today?

How about how Shannon and Sophie's trip to Uganda has brought me to tears more times than I can count. There are times when I feel overwhelmed with the weight of the world, and this is certainly one of those times. It's not enough that I've adopted three children. It's not enough that we sponsor one little girl in Haiti and now a boy in Uganda. It's hardly a dent in the world's poverty. Why do I feel such a heavy burden for black orphans, yet feel so powerless?

I was going to try to take this post to a more humorous topic, but I just don't have it in me today. It just doesn't seem appropriate. My heart is heavy.

Our Story

I can't believe I haven't shared our story after some 275 posts. In honor of Valentine's Day, here is how Rick and I became Mr. and Mrs. CupRunnethOver.

In 1981, both of our families moved to the same city and began attending the same church. Because Rick is four years older, he and I weren't friends and thought nothing of one another. I was 6 and lost in the world of Barbies. He was 10 and had his eyes out for older women. Four years is quite the difference at those stages in life.

I stayed at the same church until I graduated from college in 1997, but Rick moved on in the late 1980s. We never saw each other in those ten years, and I know I never thought about him one bit. I'm certain that he wasn't pining away for me either.

The next time I remember seeing Rick was at a wedding in the early 1990s. I remember thinking, "What a weirdo!" He was a student at Aggieland at the time, and he was enjoying his freedom. He had grown his hair out, dyed it black, and his ears sported three rings. Nothing like the Ricky I had seen some years back!

Over the next several years, our lives went down different paths. Rick graduated from college, moved to Europe to teach, then to California for his Master's. I finished college, planned a wedding that I later called off, and then moved to Colorado.

In 1998, we both moved back to Texas. Rick was tired of the single life and ready to settle down. I was praying for God to show me my husband and to hurry it up already, please.

In July, Rick moved into apartment 916. In August, I moved into apartment 926, right above Rick. This was not planned by us, but it was certainly no accident.

For the next few months, we noticed one another in our comings and goings, but we were both too shy to say anything. I thought he looked familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place his face with a name.

On December 4th, Rick saw me at the mailboxes, so he stopped to get his mail for the second time that day. He tried flirting with me, but I wasn't in a good mood. Here's the conversation that took place:

Rick: Hi. How are you? [with that big smile that had grabbed my eye a few times over the past months]

Me: Fine. [growl]

R: You don't look so fine.

Me: I just got a ticket. [growl]

R: Uh oh. What were you doing?

Me: Speeding. [growl]

R: Better not do that.

Me: [silence] [glare] [exit]

R: [silently kicked himself]

I sped off for my apartment building, and he quickly followed me. As I got out of my car, I noticed he was waiting for me. I thought, "Good grief! I am NOT in the mood for this!"

But then, his face "clicked", and I thought I might know him. We made small talk and realized that we were both teachers. I finally felt brave enough to say, "I'm Ami Maidenname. Are you Ricky or Chris [his brother]?" He corrected me with, "I'm Rick." Small talk continued for a few minutes, and then we said goodbye and went to our separate apartments.

As I walked into my apartment and shut the door, I heard God in my left ear. He said, "That is the man you'll marry." I locked the door and said, "WHAT?!" Again He spoke, "That is the man you'll marry. Don't question me on this." I giggled and called my dad. I didn't even have to tell Dad about God's statement; he knew it, too.

Rick came upstairs to ask me out the next day, but I declined. I already had plans with a girlfriend, and I wouldn't cancel on her for a guy. I later told her about it, and she hit me and said, "What were you thinking?! You should have gone out with him!" (She became my maid of honor.)

Two days later, on December 7th, Rick left a note on my car, which I found on my way to work. It read: Hi, Amy. Would you like to go out to dinner tonight? Call me. Rick

I called him, and we went to dinner and a movie. He cooked me dinner the next night. I was sold by that point!

First date: December 7, 1998

Engaged: February 22, 1999

Married: July 25, 1999

When you know it's right, there's no time to waste!

This post is long enough at this point, but I still have two fun stories to share: the first "I love you" and our engagement. I'll save them for another day.

Rick, I'm so glad you stopped me on that bad December day! I shutter to think how different my life would be without you, my soulmate. I love you!

Wordless Wednesday: Sort of

Not so wordless: Apparently, I'm not taking enough pictures these days, because I don't have any fresh material in my February 2008 folder. I took this photo from February 2007, and it's amazing how much the boys have changed in one year.

Cows and Octagons

Riding along in the car the other day, we passed a small cattle ranch. The boys began talking amongst themselves about the different cows they saw.

I listened quietly, enjoying the fact that all three of them can communicate so well these days. The conversation took a heated turn, however.

Jack: Cows can make circles.

Liam: No, they don't! Cows don't make circles!

Garrett: No, Jack!

Jack: No? Oh. [pause] They make octagons?

No Entrace without Proper Attire

The pediatrician's office finally wised up and began supplying bottles of hand sanitizer in every room. But after seeing two kids vomit and hearing three barking seals in the waiting room, I think doctors' offices should supply every child and adult with face masks.

No shoes, no shirt, no face service.

And we were only there for well-child check-ups. I'm all about spreading the wealth, not the germs.

What Not to Wear

Liam disappeared for a longer-than-usual time this morning. Because he's a very social boy, if I haven't heard his voice in more than a few minutes, then I have reason to wonder if he's breathing.

I called for him from the bottom of the stairs, because my Diet Coke had not yet reached my brain and walking up the stairs was out of the realm of possibilities.

"Liam," I called. "What are you doing, baby? Are you okay?"


He appeared at the top of the stairs in this:

Yes, that is an orange/white button-up shirt with black soccer shorts and black dress socks. And very ashy legs in need of lotion.

I'm relieved to know that he knew to put on dress socks with a nice shirt. And the socks match the shorts. But more importantly, he buttoned the shirt himself.

I let him wear this outfit. For 30 minutes. In the house.

Then I nicely explained that I love his choice in clothing but it might be a bit too early in the year to wear this combination.

And we might be seen by a few people today. I didn't actually say that part out loud.

Wordless Wednesday: Adoration

Liam (4 1/2) adores his cousin Lucy.

Being Mommy's Helper

At Bible study last Thursday, the boys were learning about being God's helpers. As that topic can be a bit abstract for young kids, the teachers talked about being helpful at home as well. The teachers asked the children what they can do at home to be mommy's helper. Apparently, my two little guys, Jack and Garrett (both 3), said, "I can stay in my bed and not get out of bed. That would make Mommy happy."

Yes, it would!

He's Three

Garrett's birthday went very well. We had a fun family day, and the weather topped it off with sunshine and warmth.

The day began when I walked upstairs to greet the birthday boy with the Happy Birthday song. He grinned from ear to ear and asked for it "again and again!" I obliged with one more rendition and then distracted him with his favorite breakfast of waffles and chocolate milk.

Following breakfast, Garrett and Daddy headed to the Home Depot for Kids' Workshop. If you have kids and haven't participated in this free event, you're missing out! It's a free event where parents and kids are given a kit to assemble in the store. This was Garrett's first time to attend, and he was thrilled to use the hammer, as you can see!
Hammering and gum chewing...he's a multi-tasker! The problem I see with this photo is that he's learning to use a hammer with his right hand, when he's actually a leftie. I imagine some damage could be done when a 3 yeard-old is given a hammer, but especially if the hammer is placed in the right hand of a left-handed 3 year-old. There will need to be some reteaching done, I do believe.

Anyway, he completed his project without any hammered thumbs. And the finished project is a football stool in honor of the Super Bowl. Now, I may be biased, but I believe that he is the cutest man in front of Home Depot that I ever did see.

After the HD, Daddy and son came home to get the rest of the family. Garrett had requested cheeseburgers for his big day, so we headed to Billy Miner's in Fort Worth. Good ol' greasy burgers and fries...yum!
Garrett, how old are you?

Because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to top off lunch with a mini train ride.

My parents were able to join us as well.

The day was rounded out with homemade pizzas and brownies for dinner. As you can see, we fill our birthdays with the finest of nutrition.
At the break of dawn this morning, Garrett asked me if he's now four. No, thankfully, life does not go by quite that quickly.

Happy Birthday, Garrett!

Garrett will officially turn 3 tomorrow, February 2nd. My baby is growing up!

I was blessed to take Garrett to the nursery immediately following his birth. I was able to bathe, feed, and love on him. It was a wonderful time of bonding for mommy and baby.

This photo was taken the day we were able to leave the hospital. It is one of my favorite photos of him.

This photo was taken a few months ago, but I haven't shared it on the blog yet. He is a sports fanatic, and baseball is at the top of his list.

It is hard to imagine life without my baby G. Happy birthday, baby boy!

For those new to my blog, Garrett's adoption story begins here.