Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy Day :)

Today is a special day for Carter B.  I'm not sure if he knows it - but I do.

Today is Uncle Ben's birthday.

"What does that have to do with Carter?!"

Hold on, I'm getting there.

Jake and I have been married for 5 years.  That's roughly 1,825 days.  Out of those 1,825 days - Ben has asked us when he'll be an uncle on approximately 934 of them.  One year for Christmas, he bought me a pregnancy test.  From the Dollar Store, but a pregnancy test is a pregnancy test, right?!

When we told Uncle Ben that he would, indeed, be an Uncle - in a very 'unconventional' way, to a 3 year old with Down syndrome - he was thrilled.  Uncle Ben never once doubted our decision.  Or at least if he did, he never vocalized it to us.

We've had his support since day one.  He's a pretty special guy, this Uncle Ben.

Now that Carter's home, well - I'd say they're buds.  Carter signs 'Uncle Ben' (note: he does NOT sign 'mama'....).  They have their own special wave.  Like I said - buds.

If Carter could talk, I'm pretty sure he'd say (and I'm paraphrasing...) "Happy Birthday, Uncle Ben.  I don't know really what a birthday is - but I hope you have a happy one.  Did you know I like bananas, Uncle Ben?  Oh, you did?  Okay.  I like to ride in the car with you, and wave to you, and I like it when you swing me in the air.  I never really had an uncle before, but I'd say you're a pretty good one.  Can I have a banana?  Later?  Okay.  I love you, Uncle Ben.  Lots & lots!"

One Thing I Know For Sure: We love our Uncle Ben a whole, whole lot...!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I got a comment today from someone who wanted to make sure we were all 'okay' over here.  Because I haven't blogged in what seems like an eternity.

Well, it's only been 12 days, but still.

So here I am, back in this place - right where I love to be.  Blogging my little heart out.

Last week was a good one.  This blog may have been quiet, but our life was loud.  Not because we were busy, not because things were crazy, but because I was striving to find the balance that seems so hard to come by these days.

Last week, I committed myself to living my life, instead of writing about it.  I forced myself to be a part of the memories, instead of snapping photos of them.   

Life needs to be captured.  It deserves to be captured.  But it also must be enjoyed.  And sometimes, capturing and enjoying can't be done at the same time.  

So last week, I enjoyed.  I'm learning balance in this area.  I've said it here before that I don't ever want to be a 'tv mom' or a 'computer mom'.  I'm now realizing that I don't want to be a 'camera mom' either - whose kids are constantly saying 'mama, come play in the sand' or 'come swim with us'....while I give a hundred reasons why sand and water aren't good for my camera.



I took a phone call the other day that caught me off guard.  I knew it was coming - I had been waiting for it.  I thought it would be no big deal.  Long story short - I had to answer lots of questions about what our boy was capable of.

Can he do this?  No.  Is he able to do that?  No.  Would he be capable of this?  No.  Does he do this?  No.  Has he ever done that?  No.

No.  No.  Nope.  No.

She apologized, and explained that she just needed to 'fill in some blanks' on an application (that got lost in the I said, long story...).  She realized that there were a lot of 'no' answers, and very, very few 'yes' answers.

I started to feel a little discouraged.  I mean, I know that 3 years in an orphanage has set Carter way back. But I don't see that when I look at him, when I hug him, when I'm working with him.  I try not to look at all the things he can't do - and I try to focus really hard on what he can do.

And this dang application was making that pretty hard.

He's just....Carter.  Our son.  Who we are so, so proud of.  Who we are amazed by every moment of every day.  And maybe he can't match shapes, or recognize colors - but he can love like nobody else.  He can forgive better than anyone I know.  His smile is the sweetest thing ever (biased, maybe...).  He knows more about resilience and determination than most of us.

So there.  Take that, application.

Balance.  See?


I've been accused (nicely!  by my favorite follower...!) of becoming too serious.  I figure if this person feels this way, then maybe you do, too.

"Not enough humor - too much heavy.  You've lost your spunk."

My life has been heavy the past few weeks.  I'm going to let you in on a huge secret.  I struggle.  And when I'm struggling a bit, and life is heavy - I will write heavy.  When life is spunky, I will write spunky. That's just being real.  No fluff, here.

So, after 12 days away, it feels good to be back here - sharing my thoughts with you.  The break was good, but I'll be back sooner rather than later.  Thanks for listening, friend.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Balance is hard (think tightrope, people...) - but so, so good.

+It seems something terrible has happened.  Blogger says my photos are 'untraceable' - which means no signature photo.  Shucks.  I hope the rest of my photos aren't gone.  

But if I'm being real - my real-life signature looks nothing like my blog signature.  See?  No fluff.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

A First :)

Even though it's been crazy windy and sort of cold, we couldn't wait any long.  The time had come...

...for Carter's first visit to the park.  Okay, well the park was actually a school playground - which leaves a lot to be desired in the area of toddler play equipment.  But we made due.

I helped Carter climb the one and only piece of play equipment and go down the slide.  His reaction?!  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  

So we tried it again.

And again - nothing.  It will be a while before this little boy has any concept of what to do on a playground.  We're still washing away the orphanage grime.  Nobody ever taught this kid how to play.  Which is why at home, he chooses to wander instead of sit and play.  Because in that orphanage, he did a whole lotta sitting.

And this kid's over it.

It's okay.  We'll get there.  Slowly but surely.


Carter watches Mama, apparently.  Today he helped with some light cleaning.  You might remember his swiffer skills.  Well - now watch in amazement as he shows off his dusting skills.

Pretty sure I've never dusted the refrigerator like this - but why not?!  It probably needed it.


In the morning, when he still has his jammies on, I love to see his squishy little feet pull this (incredibly loud & obnoxious) alligator around the house.  It's by far his favorite activity - he is an alligator addict.  The minute we get home from somewhere, he picks it up.  The second he gets down from his high chair, he runs to find it.

I'm sure the day will come when this alligator will retire to a shelf, or be handed down to a sibling.  And I'll likely miss the pairing of squishy feet + alligator noise.  So until that day, I'll enjoy it.  

Obnoxious noise & all.  


Carter is serious about lawn safety.

This gutter-thinger was definitely blocking his walking route.  If he had a notebook, he would have pulled it out of his pocket and written a ticket.

As long as we were outside, he decided to mow a bit.  Forget about the fact that every time the mower went on the grass, he threw a little fit.

Carter mows sidewalks.

And sometimes, when he gets tired of pushing the mower - he pulls it.  Because that's much easier.

Yes - that brown and white blur is Moses.  He's very good at intercepting Carter when he's going to far.  Moses will jump right in and cut off Carter's path.

No joke.

And Carter will turn around and head the other direction.


We got a nice letter in the mail from our city, pertaining to our recent water usage.  They told us they were concerned that, because our usage has gone up tremendously, we must have a leak and should check it out.


I'm sure this has something to do with it.

Once a day (sometimes twice), since November.  Yep, that explains it :)


That's all I got.  It's Friday, and I'm so grateful for weekends.  A time to recharge.  Be with those you love.  Enjoy yours, friend.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Ready for the weekend.....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Great Day? You Decide.

My day didn't start out this way.  It started good.  Really good.  I enjoyed my coffee, my quiet time, and even checked email - all before Carter woke up.

Sigh.  It's going to be a great day.


I realize now that even though my pre-Carter day was great, it has no bearing on my post-Carter day.  


It wasn't until 9:00am that I realized my 'great day' had just flown out the window.  Gone.  

While making some guacamole - I realized Carter was quiet.  That never happens.  Into his bedroom I wander - to find his room completely ripped apart.  


This is an area I'm seriously working on.  It's okay if his room is messy.  It's okay if everything is pulled out of his closet.  Because he's a kid.  And that's what kids do.  And I'm learning to be okay with it.


I start tidying up his room - and he wanders off.  This is normal.  It's not until I pick up his bottle of lotion (this kid is a serious lotion-lover) and put it back on his changing table that I realize his diaper cream is MIA.


This is reason for panic.  I recently found him with an entire tub of baby vicks vaporub smeared all over his entire face.


I leave his room in search of diaper cream disaster.  I found it, not at all where I expected it.  Moses had gone to town on that little tube - and had already eaten all of it, except for the cap.  No, I'm not kidding.  Begin google search on diaper cream and dog allergies.  It appears we'll be okay.

In the mean time, I hear Carter in the dining room - 'daaaa, da, giggle-giggle, dada, daaada'.  Aww, cute! Assuming he had his play phone, I casually walked over to join him.


On a morning like this - never, ever, ever, ever, ever assume that 'everything is okay' - because at a moments notice, all heck will break loose.


All heck broke loose as I realized Carter had opened a bottle of paint, and was lotioning his face with it.  

Not fingerpaint.  Not even tempera paint.

Acrylic paint.  

There is good news here.  Here it is: he was sitting in a pile of laundry, on the rug in our dining room.  No laundry, carpet fibers, or little boy jammies were harmed in the process.  I'd call that a miracle.  


As much as my flesh maybe-kinda-almost wanted to scream, I kept my cool.  Because, after all, who's the moron who left a bottle of acrylic paint on the table?!


The mess could have been washed up with a rag - but why not take a bath?  It's more fun that way, I think.

After bath was over, we read a few good books.  None of them had kids smearing acrylic paint on their faces, but whatever.  I believe I was midway through "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?" when I heard an awful sound.

Any dog or cat owner knows this sound, and they cringe when they hear it.

Yep, the diaper cream & tube had made a comeback.  Do you think Moses would have at least helped me out by aiming for the hardwood?  Nope.  Right on the carpet.  An inch from the hardwood.

So it was one of those days.  One of those days that you just know there will be paint/puke/diaper cream/fill-in-the-blank lurking around every stinkin' corner.

And at that realization, I have a choice.  I can fight it with all my might, or I can just embrace it.  Throw in the towel.  Admit defeat.

I chose to just give in.  Some days are just like that.  No matter how hard you fight to make everything work - it just doesn't.  And that's okay.  So I embraced messiness today.

If little boy wants to paint, we'll paint.


This time, we used fingerpaint :)


See Moses?
Sicker than a dog.
Because what could be worse than a mama who doesn't understand little boys?
What could be more pitiful than a mama who doesn't allow her little boy to enjoy little-boy-ness?
What would be more unfortunate than a mama who prefers perfection over imagination & creativity?

Today, we embraced whatever our day threw at us.  Around here, we choose our battles - and this was a battle not worth fighting.

And guess what?  As I snuggled up with this sweet baby before nap time, I knew in my heart that he had fun.  I even had fun.  It was a good day.

Because we embraced it.  Enjoyed it.  Relished in it.

Sometimes, that's just what you gotta do.

Linking up with finding joy...join us - it's fun!

friday favorite things | finding joy

One Thing I Know For Sure: "A boy is trust with dirt paint on it's face, beauty with a cut on it's finger, wisdom with bubble gum in it's hair, and the hope of the future with a frog in it's pocket.  Wonder.  Dream.  Play.  Explore.  Find.  Discover." -author unknown

++PLEASE - don't forget about my fundraising link-up.  Visit those fundraisers - and GIVE.  Then, please SHARE.  The adorable painted boy you see in this post was brought home by people like YOU who were willing to give a few bucks.  PLEASE...donate.  Share.  It's so, so important.  

Monday, April 09, 2012


I took a break.  You maybe didn't notice.  But I took a break from blogs for a few days.  Didn't write them.  Didn't read them.  Just deleted that pastime from my life for a few days.

And it was good.  Because I don't ever want to lose track of reality.  My own reality.  I don't ever want to be so glued to this, that I miss out on life.  

I enjoyed life this weekend.  Spending time with family.  Big family and little family.  Because really, in the end, what else is there?  This blog will pass away some day.  It will.  And will I ever really look back on my life and say "oh, if only I had blogged more....".  Unlikely.

I do blog for my family, in a sense.  These words and pictures will make a scrapbook of our lives, printed in hardcover book.  I picture them lining the bookshelves of our home - and I watch as grandbabies pull them off the shelves and page through them, asking questions like "is this my mommy?"  and "grandma - is that YOU?!".  Yes, honey - that's me.  Didn't I look fabulous? "oh grammy, you still look pretty dang fabulous!".  

Okay, vision over.  It might not play out quite like that.  But really, didn't you grow up thinking your grandma was the most beautiful woman you'd ever seen?  I did.  Something about a grandma's smile.

Moving on.

Easter is over.   Carter's goodies from the grandmas are all put away.  Life is back to normal.  

But there is a part of me that wants to cling to Easter.  I'm glad to have the pastel eggs out of my house (because pastel anything is not my favorite)...but I don't want the spirit of Christ's death and resurrection to leave with them.  

That's what Jesus did.  Aren't you so thankful?  Rejoicing, today?  

Me, too.

Linking up with lowercase letters.  Come see who else linked up!

Miscellany Monday @
lowercase letters

One Thing I Know For Sure: Serving the Living God - nothing like it.  

++Don't forget to visit some of these fundraising families - and add a fundraiser, if you know of one!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pay It Forward!

Our adoption is long over with - well, except for the little paperwork nightmares that pop up here & there (can you say 'readoption' & 'Ukraine registration'?).  But I've got to be honest - I constantly feel the need to pay it forward.  We had so many people step up to help with our adoption, financially.  Some people that we didn't even know - and others who love us very much.

How can I not give back?!

I wanted to share with you one fundraising family in particular.  I might just be a little biased toward this family.  I blogged about them here.

Their little guy is in Carter's old orphanage.  In that place that I'd love to be (beating a dead horse, I know...).

Yep, biased.

Have I ever mentioned how hard fundraising is?  How exhausting it can be?  How lonely it feels?  Okay, so I have.  We'll I'm saying it again.

It's hard.  Dang hard.  It's exhausting.  And it tends to be a long, lonely road.  And when you're looking at raising over $20,000 - it's downright overwhelming.  Yes, I said $20,000+.

There.  Now you know.

So this family, who is adopting from Carter's former orphanage, is in the midst of the nightmare that is fundraising.

At this point - if you're still reading along - you have a choice.  You can say "oh - that's nice" (which would be funny, because really - what's nice about fundraising?  Not much.).  Or you could say "hmm - I wonder if I can help."

I prefer the latter.

We all know the fate that awaits the children who do not get welcomed into a forever family.  I don't need to go there.  And we all know that while we are comfortable in our homes, and our kids are well-loved - these children are NOT comfortable.  They are NOT well-loved.  And they need families.

Each and every child deserves a family.  And this family is working so hard to get to their sweet boy.

Won't you help them out?  Step up?  Pay it forward?  Sacrifice a movie rental - give up a Starbucks - buy generic detergent instead of Gain (my own personal struggle, out there for everyone to read...) -  buy one less bag of Easter candy - really, the opportunities to cut out some excess to give to this family are endless!  Be creative!

Here is the link to their fundraiser.  HERE.  There are lots of fun items - I'm personally interested in the wall stencils.  Just don't tell Jake.

A donation of $5 will get you two opportunities to win!  And of course, the more you donate, the more opportunities you have.  The fundraiser runs until May 1 - but don't wait!  Go today!

Please - go.  Donate.  And share, too.


But I'm not going to stop there.  I know there are SO many families in the middle of this same, strange battle.  If you are a fundraising family - or if you are hosting a fundraiser for an adopting family - or you know of a fundraising family - please join in the link-up below.

Rules for the link-up are simple...
+It has to be a link to a fundraiser for a committed family.  I know there are SO many fundraisers for waiting kids, too.  I know that those kinds of fundraisers are also so, so important.  And maybe if this is successful, I'll do a waiting kids fundraiser next month.  But this time, it's for families.  Also - families do NOT need to be "Reece's Rainbow" families!

+No need is too small or too great.  Whether the family is in need of hundreds or thousands - it doesn't matter.  A need is a need.

+Anyone can add.  You don't need to be the fundraising family or the fundraising host.  You just need to know the link to the fundraiser!  Make sure the fundraiser that you want to add hasn't been added yet, though!

+Share.  Share on your blog about the fundraising link-up.  And link back to this post, too.  More coverage=greater donations!  That's the goal!  Because I can't donate what 200 people can.

+Visit.  Pop over to other fundraisers to donate - and leave an encouraging word, too.  Because like I said, this stuff is dang hard.

+Link-up will close on Wednesday, April 11th @ midnight.  

That's it!


Well - actually, that's not it.

If you go to any one of the fundraisers linked to below (or the one for Chandler that I talked about, above), and donate at least $10, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me that you did so.

On Friday, April 13th (weird, I know) I will choose one name, randomly.  That person will get a blog makeover, by yours truly.  I'm no expert, I promise - but I enjoy doing blog revamps.  You can see some of the blogs I've redone here, here, here, and here.

So.  Link-up.  Donate.  Comment.  That's it!

One Thing I Know For Sure: Paying it forward.  Join me!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Homesick @ Home.

We've all felt it before.  That feeling of "I'm here - but I want to be there".  Or "I'm doing this - but I want to be doing that".

That's where I'm at today.  Can you sympathize?

Right now, some friends are in Kiev.  Soon they will head to Carter's former home to meet their daughter.  The same little girl that we delivered a blanket to while we were there.  I kissed her head, and told her that her family was coming soon.

They've been kind enough to include me in their journey.   The photos have taken me back.  Photos of the grocery store, the street we lived on, and even the orphanage gates.

Today, I'm homesick.  I try to be satisfied with wherever I am.  But today, I'm wishing I was there.  Somewhere that I just can't be right now.

I know, someday we can go back.  Someday we can take Carter back to his heritage.  Someday we can pay it back to his homeland.  Someday.

Someday is not today.

For now, that has to be okay.  There are no other options right now.  So I'm here - and I'm going to be satisfied here.  No - I'm going to enjoy being here.  And I'm going to soak up 'here' as long as I'm planted here.

On our first trip to Ukraine, I was homesick for home.  Funny how the tables have turned.  I would listen to a song over & over & over - believing it, even in the midst of my terrible homesickness.

"So faithful, so constant
So loving & so true
So powerful in all you do
You fill me - you see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to you
I know that you are for me.  
I know that you are for me.  
I know that you will never forsake me in my weakness.  
I know that you have come down, even if to write upon my heart.  
To remind who You are."

I my head, I would sing that chorus over and over.  "I know that you are for me...".  Even now, in the midst of my longing to be there while I'm planted here - I know that He is for me.  And sometimes when you're busy wishing & longing & begging - well, it's easy to forget that He is really, truly for us.  When I hear Him saying 'wait' - and 'no, not yet' - and 'soon, my daughter', it's easy to think that maybe He's not for me.

That's a big fat lie.  

He's for me.  And the best is yet to come.  This topic has been brought to the forefront of my mind this week.  Funny that I blogged these same words just a month after arriving home.

The best is yet to come.

So for the next few weeks, I'll be rejoicing with this family.  And this family.  Because they are there, where I'd love to be.  And someday, we'll go back.  But until then, I'll enjoy the here & now - wherever 'here' might be.

One Thing I Know For Sure:  He's for me.  And the best is yet to come.  Believing it today.

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