As the month of March ends, I look ahead to April, the month of Liam's birthday.  He will be 5 this year, the age where I really see him growing up.  No longer a baby, nor a toddler.  Not even a preschooler anymore.  A bonafide child.

He has been acting older lately.  He's given up his afternoon nap.  He enjoys reading books in bed before falling asleep for the night.  He is proving to be quite the helper around the house.  His conversations have more meaning to them.

One day last week, he had been overly sensitive and emotional throughout the day.  After I put his brothers down for a nap, I sat down beside him and began a conversation.

Me:  Are you sad?

Liam:  Yes.

M:  Can you tell me about it?

L:  I'm just sad.

M:  Do you ever think about your birth mom?  (thinking that he is at the age to begin to explore his adoption story at a deeper level)

L:  Yes.

M:  What do you think about when you think about her?

L:  (crawling into my lap)  I miss her.

M: (swallowing a huge lump in my throat)  Oh baby, I'm sorry you miss her.  I'm sure she misses you, too.  She loves you.  You know, if you ever want to talk about her, you can ask Mommy and Daddy questions.  We love you and want to help you understand your adoption as a story of love.  Do you need to ask me a question?

L:  Uh-huh.  Can I make her a card?

M:  Sure, baby.

We gathered the materials he needed, and he set to work.  He wanted help spelling her name for the front cover, and he added his name nearby.  He drew a picture of a hospital with birds, trees, and clouds.  He said that it was a picture of the day he was born.

As I watched my eldest, my little Peanut, make this card for his birth mom, I watched my baby mature in a very special way.  He's beginning to put into words and art his emotions for this woman that gave him life.  He probably doesn't truly remember her, as she let the adoption agency take him from the hospital upon her release.  But he knows that somewhere out there is a woman who carried him in her belly and chose us to parent him.

I have been reading Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge over the past week or so.  Honestly, it's the hardest thing I've ever read, because it makes me dig deeper than the love behind my boys' adoption stories.  It is a book written by an adoptee who has counseled many other adoptees, and she encourages adoptive parents to allow their adopted children to grieve the loss of their birth families.  She stresses that the grief over this very real loss can take place in babies, children, teens, and adults.  And the more we are able to help our adopted children face their grief, the healthier we will all be.

Going into the adoption process over 5 years ago, I knew the day would come for my children to face this loss.  And I knew it would hurt them and me.  But I wasn't fully prepared for the pain that would pierce my heart.  

I am not hurt because he wants to jump in the car and hand deliver this card to his birth mom.  I'm not hurt because I have to share his heart with her.  

I hurt because I don't want to see my baby suffer.  I don't want to see him hurt over his adoption.  I want him to see his adoption for the sacrifice and love that it is.  But it is not realistic to expect him to accept his adopton in that manner and to never grieve the fact that he was separated from his flesh and blood at four days of age.

He has to face his grief.  That stinks.  I have to help him face his grief instead of stuffing it under the pillow.  That stinks.  

But I will do it, because I love this child with every ounce of my being.

Would I do it all over again, knowing the pain that we have felt this past week?  100% yes!  He was destined to be my boy, and I will love him until the day I die.  As long as I have breath, I will strive to help him be a whole boy/man.  

Dear God, please help my child. Please help him to fully deal with his loss and to be a whole person as a result.  Equip me where I have no clue what to say or do.  Where I fail him, fill those voids with your grace.  Amen.

Music Requests

As I picked up Jack and Garrett from their Bible study class today, their teacher informed me that they both requested "A Hard Day's Night" during music time.

As I've said before, we teach them well.  A lot of Bible.  A little bit of the Beatles.  We're all about raising well-rounded children.

Easter Photos

Rick said that I used the wrong term to describe my photo problem with Blogger.  He said I'm trying to "upload" instead of "download", as I described it yesterday.  Please forgive me, all you techie people.  You say tomato, I say tomato.

I may not know the correct terminology, but I do know when Blogger isn't functioning properly.  It's taken me 3 days to post the pictures below, as I can only seem to upload one photo every hour or so.  I cannot seem to download a photo of Jack at all.  Jack, if you're reading this someday in the future, don't hate me because I couldn't post a photo of you in your Easter outfit.  I tried, son, I really did!

Easter morning was a rough time around here.  Most Sunday mornings are rough, while trying to get everyone fed and dressed and out the door on time.  But this Easter Sunday was worse for whatever reason.  

I had dreams of some beautiful photos of the boys together in their coordinating outfits.  You know, everyone looking really cute, with laughter all around.  Reality is hard, isn't it?  

We didn't get any group pictures.  But we got a single shot of each boy.  

Another piece of reality that ruined my photo shoot was the weather.  Of course, it was warm and sunny the two days before Easter, but that morning was cold and cloudy.  Thus, the boys could not wear the oh-so-cute shorts that I bought to match their shirts.  And they had to wear jackets to cover their bare arms.  Oh well, life did go on.

Here is Garrett.  I don't know what that grin is all about, but when I see it, I laugh.  And notice how he's pulled his pants up to reveal his "Easter shoes".  Those $6 white tennies from Wal Mart...we're fancy!
Liam thought a should shrug would be cute.  I'll take it.  How do you like his pink shirt?!  I love it.
Jack wore the same white shoes, khaki pants, and an argyle shirt in blue.  I have to put those details in here.  It makes me feel a little better.

After church, we went to my parents' house for lunch.  Big Daddy and G posed for a shot of their matching shirts.

After lunch, the boys gathered around my mom to browse through a photo album.  I love how much my boys love our parents.  We are blessed by loving and supportive parents.
I'll post a picture of Jack once Blogger decides to cooperate.  Maybe it will be in the next couple years...before Jack begins reading.


Is anyone else out there having trouble downloading pictures with Blogger? When I choose a picture to download, the screen says that Blogger is downloading, but it never downloads anything.


We converted.

On Good Friday.

To a Mac.

Mac and I are bonding.

A Couple Days in the Life of...

Rick, don't ask me where the chocolate ice cream went. I have no idea at all.

I also have no idea why I have been craving ice cream for the past 24 hours. Although I like ice cream, I don't normally crave it. But my mind and stomach wandered to the freezer several times yesterday. I didn't give in until 9pm last night, but when I could no longer ignore that pit in my stomach, I filled it not with just ice cream. No, it was a giant bowl of chocolate ice cream covered with Heath and chocolate syrup. And there might have been 2 more toppings. But I'm not certain, because I fell asleep after the sugar low.

And before anyone posts a comment of "Maybe you're pregnant!".... Hello, my name is Ami and this here is my blog. Clearly you haven't been reading long enough to know that #1 I am infertile, and #2 I wouldn't make an announcement like that through a subtle hint. NO, I would be rather blunt and tell you, "Hey, I'm pregnant."

But I'm not. So, let's continue.

In other news, we have been home a lot this week. We were quite busy on Monday and Tuesday, so I declared the rest of the week time to slow down and stay home. And Rick declared that I have been spending too much gas money, so we're grounded.

In an effort to keep the wild boys entertained, I set up their tent and let them drag two hundred of their toys into it. And I happily put up with this chaotic mess for 48 hours! I did not have one panic attack over the mess that grew every hour in the middle of my living room. I am so proud of myself.

The boys had themselves a grand time, as you can see.

But by 8pm last night, THAT TENT HAD TO GO! And an hour later, I was eating ice cream.

As we were playing outside a bit yesterday afternoon, some elementary-aged kids asked if they could give the boys face paintings. As much as the control freak in me wanted to say no, I couldn't deny my children the thrill of the artistic expertise of nine year olds. And my husband was there to nudge me into being a fun mom.

Liam asked to be a clown.

And a clown he is. Let me just pause and enjoy that face without glasses. I miss seeing those large eyes without polycarbonate lenses and wiring around them.

Jack also asked for a clown, but his artist drew something that resembled a stick figure. I think I could have done better, and I have never once declared myself artistic. But J Man was happy, so I was happy.

Garrett had a baseball painted on his cheek, but he wasn't available for autographs or photos. He was in no mood for the paparazzi.

Following the painting, we found Daddy in the backyard looking at his newly planted vegetable garden. When we moved into this house nearly three years ago, I told him there would be no plants in the back yard, because I did not want to chase little boys away from them.

We decided that this was the year we could plant some things without fretting over the boys' ability to understand the importance of not pulling the plants out of the ground two minutes later. Rick and the boys have had some fun times digging in the dirt over the past couple of weeks.

Penny for your thoughts, Rick.

Jack, aka Daddy's boy, also loves the garden. He looks forward to the day we tell him, "Go ahead and pick a strawberry."

Until then, he plays with the mulch.

Did you know that today is the first day of spring? It is! It was a bit chilly to play outside this morning, so I kept the boys busy indoors. First, we had a lesson on rain and rainbows, because we've been studying the letter R this week. As part of the lesson, we drew pictures of rainbows.

Then, we made a rainmaker. I will not claim originality on this idea. My mother-in-law actually bought the supplies for us a few weeks ago, and I saved it for the R week.

Jack loved hammering! I was a little bit scared he would get carried away and hammer some walls or furniture, so I kept him at my side.

Garrett couldn't wait for the finished product, so he got busy with his turn.

Liam was more than tired of the camera , so he rolled his eyes at me. I'm not sure where he learned that trick.

Finally, a rainmaker! Honestly, the making was much more fun than the finished product.

And because I'm such an awesome mama, we also dyed Easter eggs today. What else is there to do on the first day of Spring?!

The boys were fascinated with the the whole "add vinegar to the cup and drop a dye tablet" idea. Clearly, this former science teacher does not do enough experiments around here.

Tada! The finished product:

Actually, the boys want to add stickers tonight. Stickers? I never put stickers on my Easter eggs as a kid, but it's not about me.

Those three eggs that look white are not white. They're pastel eggs, because this organized mama ran out of vinegar.

And don't ask about the two missing eggs.
While the eggs were drying, the boys decided to be the pirates who don't do anything. Literally. I did not make that up. They sang the Veggie Tales song. And when they ran out of words, they sang the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine".

We teach them well.
What a random and long post. Thanks for stickin' around.

If I'm not able to check back in before Sunday, happy Easter, y'all. Remember it's not just about candy and eggs.

Wordless Wednesday: The Color of Our Tree

The boys with my paternal grandparents

Do You Ever Feel Like a Contortionist?

I feel like a contortionist every time I come home to put two weeks worth of groceries into my freezer. One shoulder holds the door open. One arm places the food inside, while the other arm grabs the next food item. One leg holds me up, while the other foot dodges falling frozen goods.

How about you?

Rick's Eyes

I've really been wanting to share this story since its occurrence, but I was told, "No, you will not blog about this! Absolutely not!"

But after the entire extended family has made fun of him, he's realized that it is indeed a blog-worthy story. Permission was granted yesterday.

A little background is necessary. Liam (4 1/2) was diagnosed with amblyopia in his left eye back in May. A simple vision screening at his 4 year checkup let us know that he could see nada with his left eye. We were shocked, as he showed zero signs of vision problems for the first four years of his life. An emergency appointment with an eye specialist discovered this eye condition, which is essentially a lazy eye. The poor child was nearly blind in his left eye, and we had no idea!

He was immediately put in glasses and began patch therapy. He had to wear the patch on his stronger eye for 3 hours every day in an effort to force the weaker eye into use. After about six months, he had improved enough that we could switch him from patch therapy to drop therapy.

Instead of wearing the eye patch, we dilate his stronger eye twice a week. One drop leaves his eye dilated 3-4 days, and with two drops, his eye is always dilated. He does not enjoy the eye drop, but when he's reminded of patch therapy as the only other option, he submits.

This past Wednesday evening, I snuck out of the house for a few minutes to pick something up from my mom's house. As I was leaving, I reminded Rick that Liam needed his eye drop.

When I came home 30 minutes later, the boys were in bed and Rick was playing the guitar. I sat down beside him. This is the conversation that took place:
Rick: I gave Liam his eye drop.

Me: Good. Thanks.

R: Yea, Liam complained that the drop stings, so I put one in my eye to show him that it doesn't sting. But it actually does sting a little bit.

M: You did what?!

R: Yea, I dilated one eye to show Liam that it's no big deal. And then I dilated the other eye, so that I would feel more balanced.

M: You what?! Rick, your pupils are HUGE!

R: I'll be fine in the morning.

Me: Um, no, those drops last 3-4 DAYS!

R: Oh no. I'm in trouble. [Glancing at the computer] I can't focus on the screen at all.

M: I guess you'll be staying home tomorrow. [Laughing hysterically] This is so bloggable!

R: No, it's not! You will not blog about this!

HaHaHa! It is so bloggable!

What makes it even more bloggable is that his eyes are STILL dilated five days later! Rick stayed home on Thursday. When he returned to work on Friday, he wore sunglasses on his face all day. That would not be too odd if he had an outdoor job. But he's an auditor, people. He sits at the computer all. day. long. There he sat at his desk with his tie and dress shirt and sunglasses!

Throughout the weekend, we would look at each other and laugh. He's come full circle from not finding it humorous on Wednesday to being able to laugh at himself this weekend.

He meant well by it. He wanted to be the supportive dad. But he's turned himself into the laughing stock of March 2008.

7 Things

Christie at TisButASeason tagged me for the 7 Things Meme, where I am supposed to list seven quirks about me.

1. I'm slightly rebellious. When told to do something, I will ultimately follow directions, but I'll cut corners to make myself happy. A perfect example is in this meme. I'm supposed to list the rules before beginning, but do you see any rules above?

2. Before I can fall asleep at night, I have to roll to my right side and think about my day. This is often where I think something like, "I need to give my boys extra hugs tomorrow."

3. I like to be on time to every event. I don't like the stress of being late, but I also hate being early.

4. I refuse to pay late fees at the library, so our books are never late. What are my tax dollars for anyway?

5. I can't seem to stick to Weight Watchers for more than three weeks at a time. Is that a quirk or is that normal?

6. When it's time to clean house, I become stressed out. Rick has learned to stay out of my way when this occurs.

7. I'm sure there are many, many more quirks about me, but I'm drawing a blank. Rick, I'm sure you can chime in and name a few.

This is where I'm supposed to tag seven bloggers, but if you read #1, then you know that I won't follow through. If you want to play, consider yourself tagged.

No More Sippy Cups

A life-altering event took place in our home today. All sippy cups have officially left the kitchen. I trashed four sippy cups that have seen much better days, and I packed away the remaining four.

All 5 of us are drinking from big-people cups. Some of us are only allowed plastic cups. I typically let Rick have glass.

As I was shuffling sippy cups to their new homes this morning, this is the conversation that took place.

Me: I think we're all grown up now and don't need sippy cups anymore. I'll put the nicer ones away for our next baby.

Jack and Garrett (3): Okay! We big boys now!

Liam (4 1/2): We need another baby.

Me: I know. Tell God that you want a baby.

Liam: We're going to have TEN babies. Some twins too. Boys and girls.

Me: Oh! Ten?!

Ten babies would provide some good blogging, I suppose. If I lived through it.

It Snowed!

We got a little more than ten flurries yesterday! Four inches of fluffy, wet snowflakes fell from the sky yesterday afternoon. It's more snow than we've seen since living in Colorado three years ago.

Here are the obligatory pictures:

Liam was awake during the heaviest part of the snowfall. He loved playing in it!

When Jack's nap ended, he ran straight to the window to check it out. He was ready to hit the outdoors, but I managed to put a little more clothing on him first.

Our Bradford pear trees bloomed last week. The flowers collected the snow beautifully! (Ignore the house and cars in the background. They're not ours.)

Rick came home early and helped the kids build a snowman. Look at Jack on the far left. All he wanted to do was kick the snow, so kick he did.
The boys and their neighbor friend posed for a picture with the finished snowman. Or is it a snowthing? Then, we headed indoors for homemade pizza and a movie.

The first thing the boys wanted to do this morning was to head back outside to play in the snow. We sidetracked them with waffles. During breakfast, Liam said, "We need to move back to Colorado." Rick and I agreed that it would be fun, but I reminded the boys that they might miss their grandparents. To which Liam replied, "But Ben and JJ are there." (My brother and sister-in-law, the fun uncle and aunt, do live in CO.)

Don't worry, Mom. We're not moving.
The boys are ready to play. "Mommy, hurry!", urged Garrett.

Liam would have stayed outside all day, if only he had boots to keep his feet dry. We're definitely Texans now that we no longer keep snow gear in the house.

Jack wasn't as interested in the snow today. He did more people watching than playing, which is the norm for him.

Much to my surprise, Garrett loved the cold, wet stuff.
Every snowfall must be accompanied by snow angels.

Lessons learned this week:
1. If you want more snow, just complain and wait 3 days.

2. If you need more blogging time, complain about that on Monday and be amazed as you find more blogging time nearly every day that week.

All is Well

On Monday, I reported that we were to receive our first and last snowfall for the winter and that we would only receive 10 flakes.

I was right partially correct. We did only receive 10 flakes on Monday.

But today! Today is another story entirely! As I look out my window, I see HUGE flakes pouring out of the sky. We've got 2 inches already!

I'm so excited! I can hardly contain my giggles right now. But I have to keep quiet for an hour, while the boys nap. As soon as nap time is over, we're heading outside to build a snowman.

I'll have to post pictures later. That's right! I have my camera back, too!

And all is right in my world now.

Wordless Wednesday: He Loves Life

Liam (4 1/2)

Works for Me Wednesday: Blog Design

If you have had a blog facelift, I'd love to know the name and contact info of your designer!

This is the backwards edition of WFMW. For other participants, please see Rocks in My Dryer.

Bustling Boys

I have spent two days in two different pediatric specialists' offices with Garrett over the past two weeks. These two visits have been eye-openers for me.

When I walked into these offices, I was faced with children with special needs. Families faced with severe medical needs. Children who are unable to walk, talk, play, or eat without assistance.

And there I sat with my three healthy boys. I felt uncomfortable. Not because I don't "deserve" to be there, but because I don't "deserve" healthy children.

I am humbled. I am not naive enough to think that there are not millions of sick or hurt kids in this world. But I was forced to face them and their parents recently.

May I never take another day with my bustling boys for granted.

Let it Snow Already!

What?! Two posts in one day?! Slap me silly! I added two hours to the day, didn't you hear? If you didn't get the bulletin, there are now 26 hours in every day, and you can read about it here.

As I read different blogs this afternoon, I kept hearing about every one's beautiful weather over the weekend. I might as well chime in. Our skies were sunny and the temps were in the 70s, so we were outside as much as possible.

We took a hike, worked in the garden, and played ball in the backyard. I'd love to share photos with you, but our camera is still in the shop.

Don't get me started on how long it takes Best Buy to decide how much they want to charge us to repair our camera!

Today is cold and stormy, and the weatherman is predicting snow this afternoon. It will be just enough snow to get the boys excited, but 10 flurries won't be enough to build a snowman.

This will be our one and only chance at snow this entire winter. I'm so disappointed!

I'm not sure why God thinks I need to live in Texas. If it weren't for the best job Rick has ever had, and the best friends we've ever found, and the most sincere and challenging church we've ever attended, then we wouldn't stick around here.

And this is where my mom will shout out, "EXCUSE ME?!" Yes, Mom, we're happy to have you nearby as well.

I have a fulfilled life, so I really have nothing to complain about. But I would really appreciate some snow...more than ten flurries.

How About 26 Hours?

I can't stand how little I'm able to blog these days. I enjoy being able to blog 4-5 times per week, but that just doesn't seem to happen anymore. My days are filled with this, that, and the other. My nights are filled with bar hopping and late night parties.

Are you paying attention?!

Actually, my nights are filled with more of this, that, and the other. You know the real exciting stuff like making dinner, cleaning dishes, bathing boys, smothering them in kisses, and visiting with my husband. Two of those items are more important than the others, but they all deplete me of time and energy by 9 pm.

I wish I were a night person! I feel like I could get more accomplished if I could keep my eyes open til 11 pm.

But I'm a morning person. Rick is laughing his head off right now, because I am definitely NOT a morning person. Don't even try to talk to me until I've had a healthy dose of caffeine and a shower!

I'm really fun to live with. Ahem!

Truly, I'm more of an afternoon person. When Jack and Garrett are napping and Liam is playing independently, I am running around this house like a mad woman, trying to accomplish everything on my to-do list. But that is only about 1 1/2 hours...flat out not enough time to take care of my house, my blog, and my social life.

The only solution I see is to add two hours to the day. Anyone else interested?