My Little Pot of Gold

Friday, September 30, 2011

Archie got a new T-Shirt in the mail yesterday that he is super excited about. Mostly because it is yellow, and he knows how to say and sign "Yellow".
It says "I'm the Pot of Gold at the End of Reece's Rainbow". He is definitely our little pot of gold!

He also knows he is pretty cool...

And he is GROWING. He has gotten quite a bit taller and heavier since he has been home. He and Ace were much closer in height before.
Ace's shirt is quite appropriate for her too!

Lots of Love!

September's Clouds

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today and tomorrow are two days that are- and always will be- tough ones for me and my family. Today was my brother Corby's birthday. He would have been 30. And tomorrow marks 5 years since his death turned our world upside down.

My mom and I took Ace to the cemetery. She picked out the most beautiful (and incredibly random) arrangement of flowers for his grave site. Absolutely perfect for Corby. I know he loves them.

My sweet Ace. Audrey Corbin Eicher. Corby's precious little angel.

I knew the time was coming
But I did not want to feel
September's clouds above my head
Reminding me it's real
But although your hands I cannot touch
Our souls are intertwined
Bonded in a perfect love
Until the end of time

Lots of Love!

American Boy

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today in the mail we received Archie's Certificate of Citizenship. Officially an American Boy.

Here is what this American Boy and his sister have been up to....

Discovering new things. We did this for a good ten minutes.

Archie's first birthday party for their friend, Connor. They were so excited!

And had the best time! Jumping.......

and sliding.....

with friends!

Ace was reunited with one of her very best friends in the world- Jack. They were in school together for 2 years and now they are at different schools. They seriously miss each other so much. They ran to hug when they saw each other and then stayed glued together the entire party.

After the birthday party we went to watch our friend, Berklee's, soccer game. Archie and Ace played and played with their buddy Wickie. Archie, our graceful one, took several spills. But he always manages to keep a smile!

My little athelete

Ace and Wickie. Heading over to watch the game.

After the game we came home to rest. We watched Little Rascals. These are the moments I love the most!

I really had been wanting to give Ace a haircut. She HATES brushing her hair or letting me do anything with it at all, so I like to keep it shorter. Otherwise, it is a total rat's nest, and I usually send her to school looking like a little ragamuffin. Tonight, she agreed to let me cut it (and even wanted me to...shocker), so of course I jumped on it. Here she is before. And this is her as tamed as can be.

And after! She LOVES it. So much easier. So much less hair to deal with.


Of course, anything Ace does, Archie must do. So he was next for a haircut. I was pretty anxious to get my hands on that scraggle head too. Check out those monster sideburns- Before.

And after. All cleaned up and looking as handsome as ever.

My two little monsters showing off their new dos

I love my cuddle bugs!

Lots of Love!

More Dance Party

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ace has quite the attitude. This isn't even her going all out. She was a little more reserved with the camera on her. I will have to do a hidden camera some time so you can see a full show.

Lots of Love!

Dance Party

We do A LOT of dancing at our house. These two have quite the moves. I could watch them dance all day long.

Lots of Love!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

People probably think I am crazy when I am out with the kids and I am taking insane amounts of photos in what appear to be very normal places and situations. The mall, Target, the grocery store, every restaurant, playground. You name it- I am there in full paparazzi style taking pictures of Archie. (Most often with Ace, but she is so over it, and Archie LOVES having his picture taken). I can remember when Ace was first born, and when we were experiencing all of her "firsts". I did the exact same thing. I had a camera in my hand at every moment. I wanted to capture it all.

I get sad quite a bit thinking about all of the firsts that I missed out on with Archie. All of the basics. First roll over, sit up, crawl, steps, words. First night in a "big boy bed", first time to eat with a fork and spoon. So I get pretty excited when I get to experience a new first for Archie. And there have been so many. First time to ride in a car seat. First time to watch a basketball game. First time to go to the movie theater. First time to eat Tex Mex. (First time to eat most foods). First time to walk a dog. First pet. First vacation. First time to have his own bedroom. First time to have his own toys. First day of school. First time to snuggle on a couch with his mom, dad, and sister. That's a bunch of firsts. First. First. First. Is that starting to sound like a really weird word to you?

I am thankful to have some snapshots of Archie's earlier days when we didn't yet know that he was our son.

Not flesh of my flesh

Nor bone of my bone

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget

For a single minute

You didn't grow under my heart
But in it.
-Fleur Conkling Heylinger

Looking forward to many more firsts with our sweet boy.
So grateful. So blessed.
Lots of Love!

I can't think of anything creative to name this. So we will go with, "School Update"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So I have actually been able to breathe a little bit this week which has been AWESOME. Archie is doing so well in school and is LOVING it. Day 1 really could not have gone any better. He was so excited to see me and Ace when we got there. His teacher said he asked for me several times (which is a very good thing!) I was most worried about him not understanding that I was dropping him off just for a little bit, but that I would be back to get him. He learned SO MUCH just after the first day. He was signing complete sentences to me ("may I have _______").

Tuesday was picture day. I am so happy he was there for that, and of course I am super anxious to see his picture! He asked for me again several times in the afternoon, so his teacher set a timer, where he could see the time going down, and explained when it beeps, Mommy would be there. That was about an hour before pickup time. He went to the timer several times and would point at it and say "Mommy, Mommy." I know it seems weird to say, but I am so incredibly thrilled that he is thinking about and missing me during the day.

This morning he woke up signing "school" and "friends" and saying his teacher's name, Miss Donna. He started getting a little anxiety in the car on the way and was saying, "no thank you school, no thank you school". Then when we got there, one of his other teachers, Miss Regina greeted him at the car to take him into class, and he kind of whined, "No...Mommy, Ace!" They are so great about distracting him and making him feel comfortable. They stood there and watched us drive away and he blew us kisses and was yelling "Love you mommy, love you ace!" He totally understands that I am coming back to get him. And I love it that when I get there he drops everything and sprints in his little penguin style run over to give me the biggest hug ever. JOY. We are just so happy and grateful to be at Arbor. I couldn't have dreamed up a better place for him right now.

In other news, my camera is pretty much kaput. Which is why this is going to be a picture-less post. I know. Bummer. What the heck did you just waste the last couple of minutes reading this for? Sorry! Promise to have that problem solved ASAP.

Lots of Love!

School Boy

Monday, September 12, 2011

So before we brought Archie home, I had planned on waiting a while to send him to school. I figured he would stay home with me for the first semester while we got to know each other, and just use that time to bond and adjust. Well, the bonding and attaching process happened a lot more quickly and smoothly than I could have ever imagined. Again, giving so much credit to his caretakers at the orphanage on this. They really prepared him so well. Talked about us and looked at our pictures with him EVERY day for probably 6 months before he came home.

I realized a couple of weeks ago that Archie was really ready for school. I knew how much he would love it. He is hungry to learn new things. He is VERY social. So I started contacting the district and the Elementary school we are zoned to, to see what we could do. I knew that he would need to be evaluated and tested and that it might take some time. I was not prepared for what they had to tell me though. It would be 90 days before he could receive any sort of special services. Like being in a Life Skills class, or having an aid in a mainstream class, etc. They would just have to put him in a regular classroom based on his age. SECOND GRADE. Um, I do not think so. I can imagine the nightmare that would have been. Not only is Archie half the size of any second grader. He doesn't speak English, and while he is super bright and a little sponge, he does have Down Syndrome, and he was raised in an orphanage. All of these factors make it pretty clear that sticking him into a second grade class was just not an option.

God has very strategically placed many new friends in my life during this journey. One of those amazing people is Christina. She has a precious little boy, David, who is also blessed with an extra chromosome. She and I had talked a lot about school options. She is a wealth of information. So after talking with the district, I let her know what was going on, and what they had told me. She then asked me if I would like for her to make a call to The Arbor School. A private, special needs school that David attended, and one that she and her family really support and love. She said that they might be able to help us out during this time of transition. Of course I said that would be awesome! The next day (last Wednesday) we went on a tour and met with the Director of the school. The school was AMAZING. Absolutely perfect for Archie. Such a loving environment.

I explained our situation to the Director. He understood that we would not be able to afford the tuition at this time. But at the end of the tour, he let me know that he really wanted to help us out. They committed to take Archie for the 90 day period that our public school district would take to evaluate him. I was truly overwhelmed by their kindness. This was the most incredible blessing for us. Everything was happening so quickly. They gave me the paperwork, told me to get him a physical as quickly as possible (which is what led us to Grumpalump Doctor last Thursday), and that he could start as soon as that was all taken care of.

And this morning, I dropped my little boy off at his first day of school! Talk about being a nervous wreck. The longest I have been apart from him since he has been home was the other night when I went to dinner and a movie with my mom and sister (a much needed night out), while Joey and the kids hung out at home. I tried to prepare him the best that I could. We talked a lot about school and how he would get to go play with friends. He can sign (and understands) "friend". So we did a lot of that this morning and he was pretty excited. When we pulled up to school, his teacher (who we met on the tour) was right outside. Archie jumped out of the car signing "friend" to her. She said "that's right, I am your friend", and he ran to hug her. My sweet, smart boy. His communication skills blow me away.

Joey, Ace and I all took him in. Ace was very proud of her brother. I am so proud of him too. Both of them. And now, I am sitting at home, with so much I could and should be doing. But instead I am biting off all of my nails and staring at the clock. I cannot wait to pick them both up, and hear how his first day went.

Ace to Archie: "Smile, buddy, you get to go to your own new school!"

All ready to go!

With one of his teachers. She dresses up in the morning and stands outside to greet the kids. Archie loved it.

His teacher made a sign and had some balloons to welcome him. So sweet!

He ran in and started doing puzzles. In his own little chair with his name on it. Ugh, so cute.

My happy boy.

I am so thankful for The Arbor School and what they are doing for us. What an awesome place, and amazing people. I just know Archie is going to blossom even more, and learn so much.

Okay, off to try and get at least one thing checked off of today's "To Do" list.

Lots of Love!

One Jerk and a Bunch of Shots

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My kids absolutely owned me today. It was rough. From the minute they woke up they were in rare form and I was simply outnumbered. I thought things couldn't go much more downhill when we were eating lunch at Escalantes and one kid was intentionally smearing beans on her face and hanging on my back, while the other was flopping around like a fish, with his feet practically laying in the lady at the next table's lap. One English speaking kid was yelling, "Mom, I need to go Poo Poo! POOOOOO POOOOO!" And one Bulgarian speaking kid was yelling, "Ne Poo Poo, Ace! Ne Poo Poo!" Awesome.

Next stop was to the Pediatrician. Archie had to get a physical for school stuff. (Post about what's going on with school for him to come). So we get there and they are as wound up as ever. I had to fill out all the new patient forms for Archie. I was hit pretty hard with lots of emotions as I read over the paperwork. One entire page was all about the mother. The pregnancy- was he full term, were prenatal vitamins taken, were there any complications, was there any drug or alcohol use during pregnancy. There were questions about the mother's health and history. I felt so strange that it wasn't asking about me. I am his mother. I have thought about his birth mom a lot during this process, but nothing like today. She is real. She carried him, gave birth to him. I wondered if she even held him at all. I wondered if she told him anything. If she looked into his eyes. Just as the tears were about to start flowing, my little ragamuffin boy came barreling into me. Planted a kiss right on my lips and shouted, "La Luh Lu, Mommy!" (I love you, Mommy). His timing couldn't have been better.

Our name was called and we headed back to the exam room. Within 2 minutes, a pile of kleenex covered the floor, 2 paper cups filled to the brim with water were sloshed all over the exam table, and one book that didn't belong to us had several pages torn out. My kids were so lucky that someone was about to walk in who I would be far more angry at than I was at them. The doctor. Unfortunately, we were not able to get an appointment quickly enough with our normal Pediatrician who we LOVE. I had never taken Ace to this particular doctor before. From the second she walked in I knew I wasn't going to be happy. I am pretty easy to please, but this lady just wasn't friendly. Archie was SO scared. I have never really seen him the way I saw him today. He was so afraid. He just kept yelling, "No thank you!" at her, which sounds more like, "Ne tank tu!" In other words, he didn't want her or any of her tools touching him. At least he used his manners. He clung tightly to my neck and yelled "bye bye" at the doctor. He wanted out. She had no interest in trying to help him through the exam process. She asked me if I could, "calm him down" so that she could examine him. (Well it was more of a demand really). I mean, come on, lady. This boy has been here for 3 weeks. He is in an entirely new world, and he is frightened, and you can't offer the tiniest bit of compassion. Nope. Instead she just told me that she would only be able to do a "limited exam due to his behavior." (Insert harsh insult)

So whatever. We move on. He needed some shots, and I had to sign a consent form. When she gave me the form and showed me where to sign, I saw that where it said "Mother", she wrote in front of it "Adoptive". Are you kidding me? I mean, yes, true, I am his adoptive mother. I am proud to be his adoptive mother. But I am also just his mother. What the heck difference did that make for this freakin form? (Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.)

It was now time for the shots. Poor baby. This boy is STRONG. So I had to basically lay on top of him to hold him down. He screamed and screamed. He was yelling, "Daddy!" As if Daddy could come to rescue him. And I cried just the same as I cry when Ace gets shots. Ace was a great sister. She stood by his head, stroked his hair and in the sweetest, most motherly little voice said, "It's okay buddy, none for Ace, none for Ace". She repeated that over and over, the entire time. I was trying not to start cracking up. But she was killin me. She wanted to be sure everyone knew she was not getting any shots. Great words of comfort.

Yada Yada Yada. Lollipops and we were out of there. After 3 ridiculously long and agonizing hours. We were all exhausted.

Okay, this is not too bad......

Sweet boy had no idea what he was in for

After round two of shots.

I called Joey to come up and help me out. Here is Archie showing off his cool bandaids.

And by the time we pulled in the driveway. Yes, it was 5 o'clock. And yes, I let them sleep til 6.

What a day.
Lots of Love!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On September 28, 2006, I lost my older brother Corby. He turned 25 just the day before. I was 22, and had just gotten married in July. His death completely shook my world. I was out of town, in Chicago, at a small group conference with my church. I was NEVER out of town. I am a major homebody. Even being with my husband, I was homesick. We were only there for one night, before I got the call from my Dad the next day. I knew something was wrong the second I heard his voice. He had trouble getting the words out, and I can remember literally yelling at him to tell me what was going on. When he said the words, I dropped the phone, and fell to the ground. I was surrounded by thousands of people, in this enormous church. But my world stood still.

The days to follow would be tough. A roller coaster of emotions as to be expected with grieving. A lot of anger. A lot of feelings of guilt. All the "whys". Why wasn't I home? Why didn't I call him on his birthday? Why didn't I answer the phone when he called just a couple days earlier? Why didn't I tell him that I loved him, that I forgave him for wrongdoings of the past?

Time went on and so did life. Naturally, it got easier. Then when my daughter was born in June of 2008, it got really hard again. Those initial feelings I had in the early stages resurfaced and I had some serious internal conflict. I was so mad that he wasn't there. He would never hold her. He would never hear her voice, her laugh. He would miss her first steps, her first day of school, and every other first. As she got older and started looking less like a tiny alien and more like a little person, I could see his face in hers. That's when it hit me. He wasn't missing anything. He was a part of her. Always had been and always would be. No, he wouldn't ever be here, on earth with her, and that still tears me apart. But he knows her and loves her just as much as if he had been here.

I wrote this poem about Audrey Corbin, my precious Ace, and her Uncle Corby. It was my way of comforting myself, and sort of fantasizing about a time when they were together.

My Daughter's Angel

He kissed her on the forehead
And he whispered in her ear
You go and meet your family now
And I'll be right up here

Then as God sent her from Heaven
He watched over from close by
And with the most amazing clouds
He wrote "I love you" in the sky

And although she cannot see him
She can find him in her dreams
Where they'll fly around together
On his perfect angel wings

Ace has always been a very intuitive toddler. A few months ago, she sat me and Joey down for "story time". She sat on a little chair in front of us, as we sat on the floor. She grabbed her little pink Bible, opened it up and said, "this is a story about Corby in the sky with Jesus". We were blown away. I put my head down to wipe the instantaneous tears, and threw a big smile on as I looked back up at her. I hadn't remembered ever telling her anything about Corby being with Jesus. I don't think I ever had. The older she gets, the more often she asks about him. She asks me things like, "when is Corby coming home". She tells me what she is going to do when he comes home. Build castles, play wrestle time.

This picture of Corby hangs in our house, right by the kitchen table. It has become a very important symbol in my life. It is what I created the logo for Corby's Castle, the non-profit I started after Corby passed away. It was taken on a family trip to Aruba. He was around 10 years old at the time. This is exactly how I like to remember Corby. Big brother. Protector. Hero. Best Friend.

Yes. It breaks my heart that my big brother will never be here on earth with my kids. And I dream of how things could have been. The same feelings have come back during our adoption process and especially now that Archie is home. Oh the fun he would have had with Ace and Archie. But Corby's life, while not an easy one, had a purpose. The quote I think of when remembering his life is one by Ralph Waldo Emerson. "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Thanking God for my family a few extra times tonight.
Lots of Love!

Recap: (In a ridiculous amount of pictures)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My blogging frequency has been less than par lately. Everyday, I tell myself I am going to blog that day. But by the end of the night, when the kids are finally asleep, my body just doesn't allow me to. Maybe I will start waking up earlier to get it done (that's funny).

Anyway, here is what you've missed over the last couple of weeks. Still can't believe this boy has been home less than 3 weeks.

Just being silly

The boy who cried at the thought of this dog a couple weeks ago. Now he will not leave my poor girl alone!

Heading to the pool. Typical day!

With friends at the pool. Ace and "Baby Blair", as she calls her.

Little Fish

Heading home

Carson came to play!

Archie and Wickie!

Archie, Wickie, Ace and Berklee. We were at this awesome, miniature waterpark called Noah's Ark. Here they are sitting on a giant frog. Archie was a bit frightened as you can see!

Both my kids were terrified of this slide at first. But by the end of the day, they were going all by themselves. They literally went up and down for almost an hour. And they weren't happy when I finally told them it was time to go.

Archie and Berklee!

Lunch at Jason's Deli.

All dressed up to meet Gigi and Papa (their Great Grandma and Grandpa)

Gigi and Papa with their first Great-Grandson

Gigi showing them old pictures

With both of their Great-Grandkids. Love it!

Woody and Jessie, ready for bed!

Playtime first!

Archie working on his "soft hands". Ace loves to wrestle, and so does he, but he tends to not know how to be soft and gets too rough at times. So I am constantly reminding him "Soft" or "Be sweet". He is starting to get it, but for now it involves me standing over them at every second. Talk about exhausting!

So happy in his Woody Jammies

First day of Church!

Ready to go in!

Hamming it up

Superman! His favorite!


Archie is OBSESSED with my camera and with taking pictures. He could seriously do it for hours. Here are a couple of his best shots.

Not bad, huh?

Ace was so excited about her first day of school. She came running in screaming, "Mom, come here, come here, I am all ready for school, come see!" Here is what she showed me. The outfit she chose, all laid out. So cute.

Ready for school!

About to go in!

She had the best first day of school! Her teachers said she was awesome and she loves them and all her new friends. But she is totally over me taking so many pictures. Here she is trying to disguise herself. Sorry baby girl, there's no foolin' me!

Guitar Hero. Another favorite

The girl can rock out

This is what we consider "nap time". They lay on the couch. For about 45 seconds.

Cheering for Daddy at his basketball game. Both Ace and Archie love watching his games.

Whenever Joey is sitting out, both kids want to go sit with him.

Escalantes! He likes it as much as we do!

That's all for now!

Lots of Love!