Thursday, June 25, 2009

9 Months and Never a Boring Moment...

My students always amaze me! "How was your summer?" I ask this question as an icebreaker on the first day of school each year. Inevitably, several will always respond, "Boring." It is just so hard for me to fathom the concept of boring... my life, our life, never seems to stop for a breather. Here is a run down of our last few weeks on the go, with updates woven in here and there for Payton's 9 month post. It has been so long since I last posted that my three regular readers are now down to zero. I figure that I will go ahead and post anyway, since this is Payton's scrap book. Here goes...

Bye, Bye, Aunt Meghan: The weekend before school let out (June 6), one of my best friends came home to the 'burg for a bit of a farewell. Meghan, Payton's Godmother, is moving to Boston :( for a few years. Although this weekend fun was a sort of spur of the moment thing, we had a blast! I know Payton won't remember the fun things she did with him in the early months of his life, but clearly, she loves this little man. We started out Saturday morning hitting up some yard sales. One of the small towns near us has a community yard sale. I have never gone before and did not realize that, literally, then entire town shuts down for the day. This town has a large Mennonite population as well, and it was just so cool to park my car next to a horse and carriage and get out to shop for toys for Payton. We did this for an hour or so, and were pretty well shopped out. We did manage to snatch up a Baby Einstein play table for Payton. On the way home, we stopped by a local produce stand and got some fresh strawberries and peas and snacked all the way home. Erin, one of my other best friends since 5th grade, met us for lunch. Her daughter Chloe is close to Payton' s age. We soon discovered that lunch with two soon-to-be toddlers is very, very different that what we are used to. Payton and Chloe had their very own language. It was so cute...and loud! We drove home and took the kiddos on a two mile walk, followed by trip to the farm, complete with riding for the kiddos. The evening ended with wonderful meal at Meghan's parents house. I am sure going to miss having her around, but I am excited for the opportunities that await Meghan in Boston!

Our Gang (minus Ashley): Chloe (7 + mos), Erin, Me, Wes, Payton, and Meghan
Payton and Chloe: Both are expert army crawlers, so we enjoyed placing toys far away from them and watching them race to the toy.
This pic is from a few weekends ago at the relay for life. Check out Payton with Joe's (Meghan's bf) glasses!

Payton riding Blaze, one of my Mom's school ponies. Chloe really liked riding, too!
This pic makes me sad because Payton looks like a little boy. How did he get so big, so quickly :(.

Carmen Rushed to Vet: No joke. We had another dog emergency. It just does not seem right! Carmen woke up in the middle of the night vomiting and started peeing blood and breathing funny. I sat up with her, all night, scared that she was not going to make it. Wes rushed her in to the vet the following morning- yes, they take us without an appointment, gee...I wonder why? After various tests, they still are not sure why she had such an acute attack, but somehow she got a very bad UTI, very quickly. They put her on a high dose of antibiotics and she appears to be on the mend. I made Carmen promise me she would at least give me 6 months before she even thinks of checking out on us. We just need a little time to adjust to all of our pet losses lately and all of the vet bills we are still accumulating!

Visiting Emilie in Erie, PA: The week after Meghan's farewell was busy with end-of-the-year school details for me. Lots of meetings, lots of classroom packing, several graduation parties, and best of all-- watching the kids walk across the stage. Sitting through 340 names at graduation has got to be some kind of torture session, really. I think Congress might need to investigate...
Anyhow, as soon as Hell Week was over, one of my college roomies (Shannon) met me and Payton at our house, and we set out on our LOOOOONG journey to Erie, PA to visit our other former roomie (Emilie) and her newborn (Lyla). I really should not complain at all about the car ride because Payton was a darling. He slept, he cooed, he babbled, and cried for a total of 5 minutes. AMAZING CHILD! We only stopped three times each way: once to eat, once for gas, once for potty. Once we arrived, we showered Em with some gifts for her precious new baby and settled in a for a few days of fun. On the second day of our visit, Emilie's high school friends, Kathleen and Rachel, stopped by to visit as well. It was nice to catch up with them. On the third day, we hit up the outlets in Grove City and I splurged on 7 new outfits (Gymboree, Carters, Osh Kosh) for Payton. What is so cool though...I only spent about $40 on everything for him. LOVE outlets plus sales! The following day we took Payton and Lyla on a long walk along Lake Erie. As we walked, Payton managed to lose both his sandals and his hat numerous times. Luckily, several nice bikers were willing to bring them back to us each time. I really enjoyed my time with Shannon and Em and can't wait to see how Lyla will change and grow when I see her again.

The only sad part of my trip was that I was away from Wes on our 6th anniversary. We still have yet to celebrate our anniversary. We really have not done anything for our anniversary since our first one, but hopefully we will make up for that in the coming years. SO honey, Vegas for our tenth? Or a cruise? Put it on the calender! I still love you tons!

Payton and Sophie (Rachel's daughter) playing with Lyla's toys. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Payton's crooked smile!

Payton and Lyla passed out after a day of shopping. SOOOOO cute!

All of us: Me, Payton, Shannon, Emilie, Lyla, Sophie, Rachel, Kathleen, and soon-to-arrive Baby B.

Bryden's 3rd Birthday: We celebrated our nephew, Bryden's, third birthday the day after we returned from Erie. He wanted a John Deere Farm party, and he sure did get one! I laughed so hard as Bryden came running in, screaming "birthday cake" over and over again, as soon as we pulled in the driveway. His mom told him he could not have cake until everyone arrived and we prayed and ate dinner. Byden quickly folded his hands, bowed his head, and quickly said the "God is Great..." prayer. He looked up and asked again, "Birthday cake?" Clever little man! Bryden got a new mini-Gator for his birthday, which he used to run into the garage and his Daddy's truck. So cute. Check out the interview with Bryden and Payton.

One very awesome cake for a very awesome little boy!The kiddos went for a ride in the Kubota after dinner. Can you spot Payton????

Refugee Arrival: As soon as the party ended, I went in to action to prepare for the arrival of 15 Ethiopian Refugees to our town . I volunteered to help with one family thru my church. I was the chair of the welcoming committee and was, honestly, completely unprepared for what was about to happen. We had signs, gift bags, travel arrangements, apartments and meals for these families, but I think all we really did was overwhelm them with stuff and our loud, obnoxious American culture. After getting to know these women and children over the last several days, I am learning a lot about myself, Kunama culture, and children. As the women attempt to understand the modern conveniences now available to them, their children laugh and play and explore. They are simply children. During one of very confusing exchanges, they asked about Payton. They thought he was Kunama. I am still not sure that the women understand my relationship to Payton, as they do not speak English or Amharic, only Kunama, but I tried to explain anyway. Payton and I have spent many, many hours with these families and I only hope that I am bringing them some amount of comfort as I hope to be the "hands and feet" that they need to serve them right now. One of the highlights for me was introducing the children to peanut butter! THEY LOVED IT! I am taking them a few more groceries tonight and trying to figure out what I can do to help them next. If you are the praying type, you might want to add these five families to your prayers.

Father's Day: Yes, this was Wes' very first father's day. He is an awesome Daddy to our little man. My heart still melts when I see Payton asleep on his shoulder or laughing as Wes throws him in the air. One of the best parts of being a mommy is watching Wes be a daddy. We celebrated Father's Day by taking both sets of our parents out to dinner.

Wes and Payton playing in GaGa and Grandma's pool.Payton and his Grandpa after Father's Day dinner.... so cute!

Payton's Doctor Appointment and Other Data: Monday was Payton's 9 month check up. He is now 16 lbs 10 oz (below the 5th %) and 27 inches long (7%). While he is a little on the tiny side, he is meeting all of his developmental milestones on cue, with his verbal milestones already past the 12 month marker. Way to go, kid! We also had a long discussion with the doc about Payton's allergies ( he is still on neb treatments, singulair, and children's zyrtec). But other than that, the boy is healthy!

It is obvious to me that Payton is beginning to understand things we say as he plays games now. If we say, "Night,Night," he plops his head down on our chests and waits for us to say, "I'm awake" and he shoots his head straight up and smiles. He will also play this game while sitting in his high chair. This is an awesome stage! Payton is also much more mobile; pulling up, crawling, walking with assistance, and in general, getting into everything! He is learning how to problem solve and figure out how to get to the toys he wants (like dumping over the toy basket). We really loved this 9 month birthday because his birth certificates, with OUR NAMES on them, came in the mail on the same day. AWESOME! They arrived after a very irritated me called the GA Vital Stats department, only to be treated as a second class citizen. They refused to discuss his information with me since I did not have his "real name" and I (according to the phone lady) was not his "real mother." Oh yes, things got heated during that phone call! Finally, I had to call our lawyer. Eventually, the birth certs were sent to our lawyer, who then forwarded them to us. I hope and pray I never have to deal with GA vital stats again, because I don't think I will EVER get what I need from them. I am gritting my teeth just thinking about it all! Luckily, we did not have as many complications on Monday when we FINALLY were able to apply for his soc sec number (b/c we have his birth certificate now). Once we get the soc sec number, we will move forward to get his passport. Whew. The paper work never ends...

What's next?: We head to the beach in a few days with my extended family (which reminds me... I need to line up my house/dog/horse sitter). We are all very excited for Payton's first real trip to the beach. WooHoo! Before we leave, I will be spending a lot of time with the refugee families... and of course, soaking up every minute of my stay-at-home (or away-from-home) summer with my boy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Perfect Harmony

Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me" from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

If you have not yet watched this video, it is MUST! Playing for change has a great philosophy and deserves recognition for their work to create peace. I played this for each of my classes on my last day with them. Every single student was silent and in awe as they watched. I hope they took a little something from my class this year...

Update: I posted this before I read about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. This is another unfortunate reminder of how much hate is still in this world and how badly we need organizations like Playing for Change to help break down walls of division and hate all around the globe.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Do You Have Any Baby Plans?

Seriously? Do I have any baby plans? I could not help but snicker to myself when my doctor asked me this question during my annual exam yesterday.

I replied, " You mean other than my 9 month old at home?" She looked at me, quite puzzled, as I have been a patient of hers for several years. "Our son was adopted 9 months ago and I could not be happier," I continued.

"Hmmmm," she said. "Why did you choose to adopt?"

Isn't that the million dollar question we are always I even need to respond?! Most people assume Wes and I struggled with infertility and thus became parents through adoption. I usually do not correct acquaintances that make this assumption because it becomes so involved to try and explain why we choose adoption and who knows (we don't) maybe we are infertile. And I also don't want to offend people who have suffered through infertility and various treatments, so I just let this issue go and focus the conversation back to Payton. Back to yesterday... My brain was not functioning well in the already-awkward exam and conversation and I could not think or articulate all of the emotions swimming in my head and could only muster to respond, "It is just how I always imagined my family would be created. You probably don't have many patients say that, I know."

Today, all I can think about is adoption and that question. Why is it so hard for me to explain WHY we chose adoption? Why am I constantly thinking about adoption? There is no way to truly make someone understand how you feel when God "speaks" so clearly and so directly into your heart that you cannot help but follow down the path He takes you. Much to my surprise, one of the reasons I was created was to be a mother, more specifically an adoptive mother (honestly, I just thought I would work with children (teaching) but never be a mom...just ask my friends). How do I know that this is really one of the reasons I am on this earth ? Firstly, I have never had a burning desire to physically bring a child into this world. Most people cannot understand this and it seems so odd to them. After all, many people try for years to have bio children and go to great lengths to make that happen. I am not criticizing people who choose this route at all, but just saying that I can understand why they might have some difficulty understanding my perspective. Am I weird? I don't think so... I think that this feeling (or lack thereof) is divinely inspired. Secondly, why has my life been surrounded by so many beautiful adoption stories and others that tore at my heart?

This is just ONE of the many stories...
When I was 18 I went on a mission trip to Jamaica for 1 month and lived in the mountains with some of the sweetest people. During my last week there, one of the young mothers never returned to pick up her infant she left at "school" earlier that day. One of my friends and I asked around the village if they knew where the mother was and we were finally able to contact her. She begged us to take her baby home with us. Not because she did not love her child dearly or because there was anything wrong with that beautiful baby, but because she saw us as a hope and promise for her child. She wanted a better life for her precious little girl and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her child. My 18 y.o. self was so stunned that she actually thought I could care for a child, but to her I represented HOPE. Tears streamed down her face as we explained that there was really no way we could possibly take her baby home with us. But that moment is seared in my head. I can still feel the slight breeze that was blowing that day and hear the children singing "My Head, My Shoulders..." in the back ground, running around with their necks and chests covered in baby powder to keep them cool during the very sticky Jamaican summer. I can remember that I wanted to hug her and tell her it would be okay but I was so stunned and so sad I could barely speak. What words are there to comfort such a desperate mother? I so badly wish I could go back to the moment and offer her words of comfort, but hind sight is always 20/20. But that moment was so life altering that I cannot help but think of it as a milestone for me. I was not sure what that would mean for my life then, but now.... I KNOW. During that same trip I spent several days meeting with the older children at the boys and girls orphanages in Jamaica. They were so proud to take me to see all of their goats and pigs that they raised (to eat) and loved showing my around their "barnyard." I smiled and laughed with them and brought them coca cola (and watched them only take a sip or two a day to make it last longer, they said.) I often think of these children, now 18 or so, and what their lives must be like today...

Every 18 seconds another child becomes an orphan.

THIS is why we chose adoption. It was, in fact, not a simple choice, but a calling and a blessing. A calling to be a mom and dad to the most precious and perfect boy, Payton. We are so humbled.

So, do we have baby plans? Well, yes... kind of... I think. But not what my gyn was thinking. Wes and I would love to start the adoption process again sometime between next January- March. We are still praying and hoping for clarity but thinking that international adoption is the road we will travel this time. We are praying for miracles to make this happen financially for us (ie- Wes getting a raise, our stocks doing well, anything that would help fund all of the expenses of adoption). But for now, we are simply enjoying our sweet boy and thanking God for the not-so-ordinary or easy path that led us to Payton and for the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15).