When the Wait is Over

Monday, February 27, 2012

Recently I have come to what feels like such a strange place in my life. I look around, and everything is still. Not in a literal sense. We are constantly moving from one activity to the next. Or if we are just hanging out at home, there are two little people running around non-stop trying to find new things to get into. There is only a small amount of down time throughout our action packed days.

What is different now is that we are settled. There is a major lack of drama. I am realizing that for a very long time, I have been living in a sort of survival mode. There have been an assortment of events in my life that have given me a false sense of entitlement. Not feeling entitled to "things", but feeling entitled to stop living. To just sit and wait.

It started when my brother, Corby, passed away five and half years ago. I had just graduated college, had just gotten married, and had just started teaching. A lot was going on. And it took me a long time to get out of the pity party phase. Of course, I experienced a tragic loss that absolutely turned my world upside down. But for far too long, I used it as an excuse to be pretty much worthless. I didn't take care of myself, my home, or my marriage. I didn't want to. I just wanted to mope around, drowning in my sorrows, fantasizing about how things could have been, dreaming of one more day with him.

Two years later, when I was finally getting back on my feet, God gave me the most precious and perfect gift in the world- Ace. Being a mom was really all I had ever wanted. Now I had a daughter.

These two major events are clearly polar opposite. One was death-- one was life. One was a much feared nightmare-- the other my favorite dream come true. One was tragic, and heart wrenchingly painful-- the other blissful, and intoxicatingly joyous. One was the worst day of my life-- the other was the greatest.

But my reactions were similar. I used each event as an excuse to ultimately be lazy.

Now, I had a baby. I was tired-- all the time. Crazy right? A new mom-- completely exhausted. And my kid even slept a ridiculous amount of hours. I swear for several months she slept about 21 hours a day. I slept a lot too. I told my mom once, "well, my doctor told me to sleep whenever the baby slept." She explained that that rule didn't apply if your baby slept 90% of the day.

I went through a lot of emotions in that first year of her life. I was so in love. I couldn't stand to be apart from her for more than a few minutes. I couldn't even believe that this type of love existed. She made me so happy. I was also completely distraught knowing that Corby would never meet her in this world.

It was right about her first birthday when things really changed.
She woke up.
She went from being the best sleeper in the world, to, well, I won't say the worst, but it was not good. She decided not to nap anymore-- at all. The only way I could get her to sleep was by driving up and down the Katy Freeway, keeping a pretty fast and steady speed. When she would finally be out, my only option was to go park the car somewhere, and just sit. Trying to move her from the car into the house was not an option. Sometimes I would take a little nap in the car right along with her. Other times, I would park the car in our driveway, climb out my window, and go inside to try and get things done around the house. Opening my car door was not an option either, it would wake her every time. I got pretty good at climbing out the window. Once inside I would normally just sit on the couch and stare at her through the window until she woke up.

There also wasn't a whole lot of sleep at night. We tried a million different techniques, read every "How to Get Your Baby to Sleep" book. Nothing worked.

So again, I went into what I call survival mode. Not really living, just surviving. Now, this is not to be mistaken for a lack of happiness. I was happy. My daughter was happy. Despite the lack of sleep for all of us, we were still a silly, goofy, joy-filled family. But I used the fact that it was a trying time, to just sit and wait for that season to pass.

And it did. We finally threw out all of the books and ignored all advice from mom's with perfect little sleepers, and we did what worked for us-- Moved her into our bed. There were still no naps, but as she got older, it slowly but surely got better and I got used to it.

After Ace turned two, things started getting "easy", and we were finally settled into parenthood. Life was feeling really calm, we were getting into routines. That's when we decided Ace needed a brother or sister-- and ultimately our journey to Archie began.

And so began the most anxious, worry filled year of my life. Another excuse to to sit and wait. Not waiting patiently, while filing my time with other productive things...that would have been positive waiting. Not waiting faithfully, knowing that God was holding me, Archie, and my entire family tightly in His hands. My waiting consisted of fearfully checking my email every 17 minutes. Staying up until 1 AM every night, because that meant it was 9 AM in Bulgaria, and maybe I would have some news. Waking back up at 4 AM when there had been nothing in my inbox at 1. I did this even when I wasn't expecting any news at all. I had nightmares that Archie for some reason became unable to be adopted, or worse, that he died. Sleep was mostly non-existent, and again, survival mode.

More waiting.

Then the day came when he was finally home, and so began the real journey. It was no longer just a dream. It wasn't a fantasy. He wasn't this precious little orphan boy living thousands of miles away. He was my son. And he would be coming home with us to stay forever.

I have mentioned many times before how insanely smooth his adjustment was from that very first day. He was as easy as could be. Well, as easy as you could expect a 7 year old with Down Syndrome who had spent his entire life in an orphanage to be.
And while that made everything far more effortless for me and Joey, it was still a huge adjustment, and we knew that the road ahead was not so smoothly paved every inch of the way.

We have absolutely hit road bumps. We have most definitely had days that were hard. And again, I gave myself a free pass from obligations, and simple every day life.

You see, in all of these situations, I have said to myself, "well, I don't have to feel bad about forgetting that meeting because I lost my brother." Or "I don't have to worry about ever doing any housework because I have a toddler who doesn't sleep." (Now, I do think every mom should cut themselves some slack in this area, but holy moly not like I did.) Or "I don't need to stress over being there for a friend in a time of need, I am already stressed out because I am waiting on my son to come home". You get the picture.

But Archie wasn't going to give me much time for that. Just over six months home and we are settled. Of course this doesn't mean that everything is perfect. But there is nothing that I am waiting on. Nothing that I am waiting to get over, or to get used to. There is nothing that is consuming me, leaving me pacing back and forth all day.

And to be honest, it is kind of a scary place for me. There is nothing holding me back-- no excuse not to live life. I feel excited, but not anxious. My natural inclination now would be to fill this space, what feels like a void, with something new. But that is not what I am going to do. I want to focus on the things that I already have going on. I want to embrace this time with my family. I want to slow down. I want to simplify. I want to live in the present. Not with one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow.

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."
-Oscar Wilde

These two should make really living life pretty spectacular.

Lots of Love!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Disclaimer: This is a post about hair. That is all. It will likely be painfully boring to most of you. It is funny to us.
Also, this post was written with Joey's full consent.

Archie has a pretty strong obsession with doing people's hair. Ace will sometimes let him wash her hair, and more often than that he pretends to wash her hair. He loves to brush hair, blow dry hair, play with hair, simply run his fingers through hair. His favorite Christmas gift wasn't even one that was intended for him. My sister got Ace this, well, this head thing. I guess she has an upper body too. Anyway, it's a tad bit creepy if you ask me. It came with clips, extensions, a brush, a blow dryer, the whole nine yards.
We could not get Archie away from that sucker on Christmas morning. Turns out it was the perfect gift for him.

He is very serious when he is working on her hair. He could literally sit for hours-- alone with the head and a brush-- and be in absolute heaven.

So the other day, when Joey underwent a series of unfortunate haircuts, Archie could not have been happier. It all started the other morning when Joey decided it was time for a haircut. He has never been able to find anyone who cuts his hair just right, so he is always trying out different places. So he thought he would go to this new barber shop nearby. This was the first mistake. He called me afterwards and said, "I'm not sure about this haircut, the guy had to put a ton of gel in it to hold the sides down." For one thing, Joey will never be one to put gel in his hair, so I knew this couldn't be good. I asked him to text me a picture, and sure enough, it wasn't good. Joey's hair is so straight and fine, that if it gets too short, it will stick straight out. That's what was happening. So, he went back to the guy to ask him to shave the sides down a little more, in the hopes to make it look a little less clownish. It didn't help. So off to trusty old Visible Changes he went, in the hopes that what was left of his hair could be salvaged.

It couldn't.

When he got home I told him, "Oh babe, it looks good...yeah, you look great!"

But then as time passed, and I tried to look into his eyes during our conversation, I couldn't focus. The guy had a legit flat top. I just couldn't handle it. I tried not to laugh. But, there was no hope. Have you ever seen the movie Me, Myself and Irene? All I could think about was Jim Carrey in that movie.

Told you so.

So the clippers came out. And Archie could not have been happier-- He got to do the honors.

Ace got in on it a little bit, but under Archie's close and strict supervision

After Daddy's flat top was gone, Archie begged for me to shave off his hair. I couldn't bring myself to shaving it all off, but I had to do something!
So he ended up with a sweet fauxhawk. It's pretty close to being an actual mohawk.

He feels very cool

Freshly shorn dudes giving eskimo kisses.

Ace and her boys.

Good times.
Lots of Love!

Six Months Home

Monday, February 13, 2012

Today marks six months since the day our son came home.

Six months since my stomach was in knots as I waited for what felt like forever for Joey and Archie to come through those doors. (Our "welcome home" crew was just the seven of us over there on the right)
But Archie was sure the entire airport was there to welcome him
Six months ago today, I held my son for the first time outside of his orphanage- After four excruciatingly painful months of missing him and waiting for him to come home.

Six months ago today, a sister finally got to hug her big brother again.

Six months ago today, a little boy changed a lot of lives in a big way.

From abandoned orphan to beloved son

Right where he belongs.

Archie has grown and changed so much since that day. I really cannot believe that it has only been six months. It really does feel like he has been with us forever- I know I say that a lot- but it is true. It is just so right.

Here are some things about Archie:

He has insanely good manners. Always says please, thank you, and bless you if he hears someone sneeze. And he says these things until the other person acknowledges that he said it.

His favorite colors are pink and purple. Everyday he asks to wear either a pink or purple shirt. (Here he is in a pink shirt and purple socks...oh, happy day). And he is also obsessed with music and instruments.

His love for his sister blows me away. If he gets hurt, he wants her. He asks for Ace to kiss his boo boos, and it isn't better until she does. And she loves him the same. In conversation she calls him, "my brother." She loves to say that. If she wakes up in the morning and Archie is not there, she asks me, "mom, where's my brother?"

A while back, Ace got her school pictures, and Archie took one and ran to his bedroom and held it to his wall right by his bed and asked me, "mommy, please, here." So I taped it up there. He was quite pleased.

Since then they have moved into the same room and are VERY happy about that.

He loves to play make believe. He and Ace play "school", which takes place in Daddy's closet. Just the other day they were pretending they were going to school. Archie yelled to Ace from the closet, "hurry, Ace, bus waiting!"

Last week, I was on the phone with my mom, and she told me she wasn't feeling great. At the end of the conversation I said "I hope you feel better." When I hung up the phone, Archie asked, "Mommy, Mimi's tummy hurt?" I said, "Yeah, buddy, it does", to which he replied "Oh, no!" (In a really cute dramatically sad voice).
He is extremely intuitive and sympathetic. I love that about him. He does not like to see other people sad or hurt.

His English is incredible. People are always so surprised when they hear him speak. Everyone asks me if he knew English before he came here...Nope- not a lick.

I do have to translate for him often-- Not that he isn't speaking English, but his speech is not perfect, and sometimes he doesn't say exactly what he means.
Here are a few common ones:

"show me"= watch me or look at me

"toe pack"= be right back

"May I please have let's go"= Can we please go somewhere

"May I please have scuse me"= Could you please get out of my way

"May I please have croney cheese"= May I please have macaroni and cheese

He also picks up signs very quickly. I don't even know how many he knows at this point, but it is a lot. If he is having trouble communicating something to me, he will either sign it, or if he doesn't know the sign, he will make up his own to get the point across. Here he is in the shower signing "fun" to me.

He reminds us to pray before every meal--even snacks--always keeping us in check. He loves to say the blessing.

And while he is usually laughing, sometimes this happens.......
Yes, people, believe it or not, the boy does cry.

Can't wait to see what the next six months has in store for our little man!

Oh yeah, and a quick school update. My last post was a downer-- things were not going well for Archie in school. I am happy to report that with some new plans in place things have been going great! I will go into more detail in another post...but last week he had a fantastic week, and I think things are going to only continue to get better. Such a huge weight has been lifted off of me and I am so happy! We all are!

Lots of Love!