Friday, September 30, 2011

need a reminder?

It's really easy to get caught up in a story - especially a tragic story - and have it captivate your thoughts and heart.  It's also easy to forget about people's tragedies once the drama of it wears off.  As someone who has experienced a significant tragedy in my life, I know that it's really lonely three months later, six months later, a year later, five years later.  It's lonely because the grief of the tragedy can hit you just as hard after months or years have passed as it did when your emotions were raw and fresh.  The difference is that everyone else has moved on and it's hard to fight that whisper of "just get over it, already."

On the other hand, as someone who has often been really caught up in someone else's tragedy in the moment and then moved on, I understand that it's easy to do.  You know, your own life just gets distracting.  I know that sometimes I appreciate a little reminder to pray for or be sensitive to someone who is still walking through their life with a significant hole in it.  Someone for whom it's not as easy to forget.  Someone who wishes they could just get over it, already.   I know for me, just having a friend remember the date (or even close to the date) that my cousin died is HUGE for me.  It makes it all feel a little less lonely, a little more bearable.

So, speaking from the perspective of both of those people, I just wanted to remind you guys of a few people I care a lot about who continue to need your prayers.  And maybe remind you to remember the people in your life who might just need, uh, remembering.  This is in no way a guilt trip.   It's just my attempt to honor my friends who are going through more than their fair share of heartbreak.  I'm just here to help you remember.  And I encourage you to make your own list - who do you know who would be blessed by you simply remembering them?

Here's my list:

1. Waverley and her family.  It's been awhile since I've written anything about Wavy, but I keep her picture visible on our blog because I want to remind anyone reading us that the story didn't end last February.  Matt and Molly and Harper still need our prayers - especially as they move into the season of the year that held the most heartbreaking months for them last year.  And Wavy still needs our prayers as she still adjusts to being in a new home with a new dad and no mommy and no sister.  Pray for them, would you?  Ask the Lord to guide your prayers.  He will.  I promise.
This is an old picture - Waverley is three now.
2. Emmaus and her family.  Emmaus continues to have seizures daily and it seems like that may just be her norm - even on the medication she is taking.  This will be a long road for the Ballews. They handle everything so incredibly well, but that doesn't mean it doesn't take a toll on them daily.  We still have hope that the Lord will heal Emmaus through and through.  Join Lila in her prayers that Jesus would make Baby 'Maus "aw-beddah."
um. cuteness.
3. Our friends Aaron and Heather are waiting to hear when they can travel to pick up their son, Arthur.  They got caught in the limbo of the rainy season (courts close in Ethiopia during the months of August-October) because of a small error in their paperwork.  It's been three months since they've seen their boy and they thought they'd be home with him by the beginning of September.  The best way I can imagine how they feel is if I had given birth Lila, held her in my arms and then had to hand her over to the hospital workers for an unknown amount of time before I could come back to bring her home!  I would be a complete basket case!  Pray that the judge fixes the problems with their paperwork and that they get the go-ahead to buy their plane tickets SOON!
This is their first family photo - taken when they met Arthur in June.
4. And of course, our adoption.  We appreciate your prayers, your support, your generosity more than we'll ever be able to convey.  Please keep us and our Ethiopian Small One in your prayers!

Who's on your list?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

this is my view today


Yup, we're watching the Muppet Show...again.  Because of this:
sick baby.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

welp...

Four weeks into school and Lila has already had two colds and now some sort of fever-causing bug.  I think we've solved the mystery of her many illnesses last winter.  Turns out (thankfully) it wasn't faulty parenting or a weak immune system.  It's school.  Kids+toys+slobber+germs=sick kiddo.  At least we were healthy all summer so we got a reprieve.

The Husband stayed home with Baby Girl today since I had to teach.  I missed her so much since I usually get to peek in at her during my breaks and I felt so sad when I called to check on them and she was wailing in the background.  A 104° fever makes a kid miserable, I guess.

The only thing that kept her happy today was watching Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.  We've lost count of how many  episodes of each we've watched today.  But the good news is, the Peanut is perking up.  She's dancing to the theme song and just sang, "sooooooo!" to the last word of the phrase, "this is what we call the Mup-pet show!"  It's such a relief when she starts to act like herself after being a sad littles.

Thank God for Jim Henson!
Bort! Bort! Bort!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

updates and lila's new game

We had our last home study appointment today - our home visit.  After our cleaning party this weekend (have I mentioned I have the best friends ever?), I still spent all day cleaning up the messes our shedding dog and rambunctious toddler had made since Saturday.  And at 4:30 when Heather, our social worker, knocked on the door, I greeted her with broom and duster still in hand.  Everyone who had been through this part of the home study before told me it was really no big deal...and they were right.  But they also told me that, although they were given the same comforting advice, they also spent the days before scrubbing their house down!  I don't think anyone can just sit still and not clean frantically with so much at stake!

Anyway, Heather did not check that I had cleaned out the spiderwebs from under Lila's dresser (which I had) or that I had reorganized the laundry room cabinets so they could actually close (which I had) or that I had cleaned out the closet in the extra bedroom instead of stowing last minute items in a teetering pile behind the closed door (which I hadn't - good thing she didn't check!).  She did glance in each room and we pointed out smoke detectors and fire extinguishers as we gave her the grand tour of our little house.  And that was that!

Now we are just waiting for my fingerprints to come back from whichever government office is responsible for such things.  Eric's came back already and there was some concern that my fingerprints weren't dark enough so we are really hoping we won't have to redo them and add more time to our wait. Hopefully, they'll be fine and we'll be able to wrap our home study up in the next week or so.  Then it will be on to the final documents of our dossier.  I have yet to fully digest everything in that notebook, but it looks pretty manageable now that we are paperwork experts!

We are still hoping to have our dossier submitted by December so that we can be on the waiting list by the first of the year.  So far, we are on track!  The biggest factors in staying on track are the speed with which certain government offices process our paperwork (we have to get a bunch of stuff certified by the state) and the funds.  We don't have any control over the former and I'm not at all worried about the latter!  I thought I would be losing sleep over the whole money thing, but you guys have been so generous and God has been so faithful I have had no reason to fret!

On that subject, I am so excited to announce that we have hit our second fundraising goal a month ahead of schedule!  Whew!  That feels awesome!  Unfortunately, we can't celebrate for long because our next payment is a doozie!  You may have noticed our new fundraising thermometer to track our progress toward our next goal of $4100 for the dossier fee.  We are well on our way with $1200 already in the bank.  Here's where we are on our fee schedule:

If you'll remember, the $890 was a part of our just-completed second goal of $2500 so we have that money already, but we just haven't had to write the check yet.  Also, we just found out that we may not have to pre-pay the $900 for post-adoption support which would mean that we can put that money toward our dossier fee!  We still have to do some double checking to see if that's the case, but if it is, we would be just $2000 away from our next goal!  Piece of cake!

Okay, enough money talk.  I'll leave you with a little video of Lila.  A little backstory, first off though.  Remember how Baby Ruby (who's really not much of a baby anymore - she's almost a year old!) comes over to play on Fridays?  Well, our little routine is for Lila and I to hole up in our bedroom during Ruby's morning nap because Lila's shrill little voice carries a little too well in our mostly-wood-floored house.  If we're lucky, Ruby's nap is timed perfectly with Sesame Street so I drag Lila's high chair into our room and plop her in her seat with her breakfast in front of the TV (because I'm a good mom, that's why).  Well last time Ruby came over, she took an enviably long nap so Lila and I had to improvise our entertainment after the hour of muppets was up.  Here's what Lila came up with - enjoy:


Don't you love how it ends with Lila announcing that she pooped?  Me too.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

with a little help from my friends

We've got our home visit coming up on Monday which means that I have been officially in a state of frenzy trying to get my house in order.  So last week, I sent out this email:
Hey friends, I'm humbly asking for your help.  We have our home visit for our home study on Monday September 26th and my house is in need of a good deep cleaning for the occasion.  I hate cleaning, so (I am embarrassed to admit) I rarely clean beyond sweeping, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms.  I need windows washed, floor scrubbed, baseboards, cabinets and doors wiped down, the garage reorganized (a MONUMENTAL project), and the house dusted. 
 I would be ever so grateful to have your help.  So I am hosting a cleaning party on Saturday the 24th at 4:00.  I'm hoping with a good group of us, we can knock it out pretty quick and then celebrate with some pizza or something for dinner.   
What say you?  I know it doesn't sound like fun (who likes cleaning? Oh, pipe down, Mrs. Battleson!), so it's purely a favor to me and I'll owe you one.  Who am I kidding.  I already owe you all lots of "ones."  Add it to my tab.  Love you all!  Even if you reply to this email and say "no way, José!" 
I had been told by several people that this home visit was not a "white glove check" but I wasn't about to take any chances.  If I'm honest, it took some pride-swallowing and sincere trust in my friends' ability to not judge me by my dirty house to even write that email.  And I was amazed and humbled by the response.  Let me clarify: I wasn't amazed that my friends would be willing to give up their Saturday afternoon to clean someone else's house - they're just those kind of people.  I was amazed that I am lucky enough to have friends like these people.

I just took a lap around my house and was awed by the sparkling tubs, the dust-free shelves, the smudge-free windows, the curtains no longer covered in dog hair and the general scent of clean permeating the house.  And the only emotion I can seem to muster is all-out gratitude.  Seriously, how did I get so lucky to have friends like these?

Oh and I can't believe I didn't take a before picture of our garage.  The best description of its previous state is a "pile."  Or rather, "a pile of clothes and toys and lawn equipment and soil and mulch and bikes and car seats and tubs and old speakers and microwaves and the hover board from Eric's Halloween costume from 2004 (he was Marty McFly) and shovels and dog food and a wagon and some spiders and a really big green stuffed frog."  And now, thanks to my stud of a husband, it looks like this:

The biggest difference? The fact that there is a path through the garage.  And that I had somewhere to stand to take the picture.

And my house looks like this:

 And this:

And this:

And I look like this:

Don't I look tired and happy and thankful?  I am all of those things.  But mostly thankful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

toddler conversations

Lila ate a crayon today.  An orange one.  At first I thought she just had strawberry on her face and then I realized she hadn't eaten any strawberries today.  And then I found the gnawed-on crayon on the ground.

Me: Lila! Did you eat the crayon?
Lila: Uh...no?
Me: Let me see your mouth.
Lila: Ahhhh (opening her mouth)
Me: Lila! You did eat this crayon! I see orange crayon in your teeth!
Lila: (looking confused/guilty) Uh...color?
Me: No, you can't color right now.  Look at Mommy.  Don't eat crayons!  They will hurt your tummy.
Lila: Yummy?
Me: No. Not yummy.
Lila: Oh, dee-dah ("dee-dah" is how she says "thank you")
Me: (sighing) Okay, no more coloring.
Lila: (already running out of the room) Lambie!

I think I really got through to her, don't you?

Friday, September 16, 2011

I wish I could...but I can't

I wish I could say that I didn't take out my frustration of having two non-napping babies this afternoon on my daughter who was enjoying herself a little too much (and too loudly) when she was supposed to be sleeping...but I can't. (I apologized to her later, but based on the look on her face I think she thought she was in trouble again because I was saying all the same words I say when she is in trouble...wrong, sorry, forgive, etc)

I wish I could say that I brushed my teeth before 4:00 today...but I can't.

I wish I could say that I changed out of my PJs before Eric got home from work...but I can't.

I wish I could say that I came home from getting coffee tea with a friend at 10:00 tonight and went to bed at a reasonable hour instead of stopping at Quik Trip for a Dr. Pepper on the way home, putting a Party Pizza in the oven, and watching 30 Rock with the Husband...but I can't.

I wish I could say that I did the 30 Day Shred during Lila's nap yesterday instead of sitting in bed eating three monster cookies and watching the Bachelor Pad...but I can't.

Admittedly, some are more regrettable than others.

Oh Cuke Baby!

I've been on the hunt for a black baby doll for Lila to begin prepping her for her future brother or sister.  I was disappointed to find that Target had slim pickin's in the multi-racial toy department.  It's funny the things I notice now that were never on my radar.  I was a bit put-out as I looked around at the sea of white dolls and barbies and pictures of white kids playing on scooters.  Most of the black dolls available were Tiana dolls from the Disney movie, but I was wanting a normal baby doll.  The only one I could find had creepily huge eyes:
But that wasn't really what I was going for.  So I asked Molly if she could point me in the right direction and she advised checking out ToysRUs or Amazon.com.  I did a quick online search and there did seem to be more options, but while we were in Minnesota, I thought I'd try Target again in the hopes that a different market might provide more options.  And it did!

So Lila is now the proud owner of her first baby doll, who just happens to look like her Ethiopian brother or sister might look.  And, much to my delight, she is really into that baby.  She loves changing her diaper, putting her shoes on, giving Baby her bink (and occasionally taking a turn on the bink herself since I am weaning her from her own bink), and putting her baby to bed.  We even found Baby her own little lambie, snuggle and "birdie blanket" (Lila's blanket has birds on it so she calls her baby's blanket "birdie blanket," too).
Baby's lambie is a beanie baby, her snuggle is a fleece cloth wipe, and her blanket is a
little blanket Lila's Nanny-Goat gave her when she was little.
And here's MY Baby Girl all ready for her nap:

Lila thinks it's awesome that her baby has a lambie and snuggle just like she does and she gets a kick out of putting her baby to bed before her own nap.  She even tucks her baby in like her daddy tucks her in at night, (and she says, "tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck!" like he does, too) kisses her baby like I kiss her and blows her a kiss as she closes the door.  It's painfully cute.  Or as Lila says, "Oh! Cuke baby!"

My prayer is that Lila will be just as enamored with her baby brother or sister as she is with her baby doll.  I like to imagine us a year or so from now, watching Lila examine her new brother or sister and saying, "Oh! Cuke baby!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A little of this, a little of that...

I've started a post about five times already. There's too much to update you on and I've been having a hard time focusing on one thing in particular, so you'll just have to settle for a discombobulated post about a lot of things!

1. We went to Minnesota this weekend!  I went to school there and my mom grew up in Minneapolis so the Husband, the Baby Girl and I try to make it up there around Labor Day every year to visit college friends and family.  We had a blast and Lila did great - other than refusing to take a nap on the way up (boy did we pay for that the next day -the girl was Grumpy with a capital G).  If I can get my act together, I may share a few funny stories from the trip in a later post.  If you're lucky.  Some may have something to do with this nutty lady - my Nanny - who we brought home with us from Minneapolis to stay with my mom for a few weeks.  Since my mom is now Lila's Nanny, my Nanny decided she should be Nanny-Goat (naturally).  So Lila calls her "Nanny-Goke."  Nanny-Goke entertained us on the car ride home by dressing up with ribbons she had in her purse and arguing with us about whether we would be driving through Wisconsin on our way home to Kansas City from Minneapolis.  She was adamant that Wisconsin was on the way.  It's very, very not.
Nanny-goat

2. We are $70 away from our next goal!  That feels so amazing!  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

3. Emmaus and her parents were able to get in to see a neurologist in St. Louis who specializes in TSC (her genetic disorder).  They had that appointment last week and were able to get on a new medication that effectively stopped her seizures for nearly a week.  Unfortunately, she started seizing again on Saturday.  Laurisa thinks it's a different tumor causing these seizures because they are different than the other seizures in length and severity, but she doesn't know why the medication isn't stopping them.  It's got to be so discouraging to have a glimpse of hope and then have it taken away again.  AND to never truly know what is causing the setbacks.  Please keep praying for them - we are believing that Jesus can heal that sweet baby through and through!
sweetness.
4. School started up again.  My class has 16 boys and 6 girls.  That is a LOT of boys.  I'm still figuring them out, but so far the boys seem sweet and active.  Innocent chaos.  I need to start writing down the things these kids say to me.  They are hysterical.

5. The Husband and I have been learning more and more about being a transracial family.  We're trying to figure out how to not ignore the race/color thing and  yet not make it ALL about the race/color thing.  There's a fine line there.  I emailed Molly (Waverley's mommy) the other day to see if she would share her thoughts with me and, as though she was reading my mind, she put this post up on her blog that same day.  Read it.  It's awesome.  Girl can preach!  Someday soon I'm going to gather my recent thoughts on the whole race thing and write a post, but I'm not ready for that yet.

6. I have the greatest Husband in the world.  Here are just a few things he's done for me recently: given me foot rubs almost every day for the last week, brought me a surprise Dr. Pepper for my first day of school (I NEEDED that baby), gotten up with Lila on the weekends so I can sleep in, drove all 16 hours of our road trip this weekend, followed me around Ikea for over an hour without complaining, told me I was cute even though I hadn't showered in over 18 hours and wasn't wearing any makeup, folded the laundry AND emptied the dishwasher on multiple occasions, wakes up before me every day and works hard at his job so I can stay home with Lila.  The list could go on and on.  He's the greatest.

7. Lila gets scared when I laugh too hard.  She thinks I'm crying.  I laughed a lot this weekend so I started telling her, "Look at Mommy's face.  Mommy is happy!"  So now whenever she's trying to figure out if I'm laughing or crying she says, "Mommy? Happy?"  It's probably the cutest thing ever.

8. We've had two of our four home study interviews so far.  We're hoping to have the home study in the bag by the first of October - that's assuming our fingerprints and references come back on schedule.  Moving right along.  Learning a lot.  Learning how much we don't know!  It's overwhelming and wonderful all at once!

9. Our friends, Aaron and Heather just found out that they will probably have to wait another 2 months to bring their sweet boy home because of a small error in their paperwork and the Ethiopian courts being closed for the rainy season.  They are heartbroken.  Please pray for them and for Arthur (their peanut) that the Lord would bind them together as a family even across the oceans.  Pray for peace in their hearts and protection over Arthur while he is apart from them.

10.  I feel like I should have ten things.  So I'll tell you that Lila is learning to count.  She doesn't so much get the concept of counting as much as she just remembers which words to say after the word I just said.  And those words happen to be numbers.  I'll say "One..." and she'll say, "twoooooo..." and sometimes she'll keep going and say "fweee...fow...fahve...six...eight...nine..."  She always skips seven and always ends at nine.  Sometimes she just likes to skip right to six.  Like I said, she's not actually counting.  Just reciting words that happen to be the names of numbers.  Occasionally in the right order. But you know me, I like to pretend my child is a genius.  I was trying to show her off to my grandma and Grandma said, "Oh, Kelsey.  She doesn't have to count yet."  In other words, "Quit trying to make your child learn more than she's ready for."  I can't help it.  I'm a teacher!

Well, there you go.  A nice little conglomeration of randomness.  Someone just make it October already. September is wearing me down and we're not even halfway through!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bragging on my kid

We went to First Fridays tonight to see a friend's art show.  Lila was a mess for no apparent reason.  Everything was setting her off and she was far from her usual charming self.  We've had a lot of social time this week so could it be that I've found the limit of my extroverted child's people capacity?

Anyway, I'm writing this quick post to share with you a conversation that, in all humility, amazed me at my child's intelligence.

As I mentioned before, Lila was having some major meltdowns at the gallery where our friend's art was displayed - mostly out of what appeared to be some frustrations with pushing her stroller around the crowded gallery.  No amount of consoling or problem solving seemed to satisfy her, so we finally just threw in the towel and headed home.

When we got in the car, she seemed to perk up for whatever reason, so I asked her:

Me: Lila, why were you so grumpy at the store?
Lila: Sad.
Me: Oh, you were sad?
Lila: Yeah.
Me: Why were you sad?
Lila: Stroller. Push.
Me: You wanted to push the stroller?
Lila: Yeah.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry, Baby.  There were too many people in the store to push the stroller, weren't there?
Lila: Yeah.

Eric and I were just recounting that conversation and I remarked how amazing it is that she could explain how she was feeling and why she was acting the way she did.  His response was priceless, "I can't even do that, yet."

So, yeah.  At the risk of being that mom.  My kid's a genius.
cute genius