Saturday, May 31, 2008

Drugs & Babies - A Personal Comment, - Part 2

Last Summer, I wrote this post about our thoughts in relation to drug-exposed children. It is still a difficult topic for me, perhaps because it is so up-close-and-personal now. My question these days relates to the privacy of our children with regard to this topic.

Do you remember the movie
St. Elmo's Fire? At one point in the movie, the Rob Lowe character is having dinner with the blond character's wealthy, well-mannered family. Remember when the mother glances at Rob Lowe, leans over to another guest and whispers behind her hand with a very memorable expression ... "Drugs." While that comment was funny in that particular context, it is not something we want said or even known about our boys.

So, how do we speak to encourage other persons to consider fostering/adopting drug-exposed little ones without compromising the privacy and well-being of our own two??

Obviously, if you read this blog, you know the bare fact that both boys were drug-exposed. And yet, with the exception of one or two of you, you probably do not know or care about the specific details. (Sidebar: We would gladly speak openly to any of you who asked about their situation knowing that the information would not be sensationalized.)

Other people, even strangers, are much more extraordinary in their curiosity. Now, I don't begrudge curiosity for the sake of furthering the cause of fostering ... but, when it labels or attempts to define our boys, it becomes problematic. Plus, we humans seem to have a delight for all of the dirty, dramatic details... maybe it makes us feel somehow better about ourselves because 'at least we didn't do
that.' I know I struggle with this warped perspective often.

There are times when I want to simply come up with a different answer to the question 'How far apart are they?' because that question inevitably leads to 'How did you get pregnant so soon?' or 'Were you just crazy to have them that close together?' which inevitably leads to my eeking out in a small whisper 'We are adopting them' ... which next leads to a discussion of the where, when, why and how of such things. Finally, we get around to the subject of foster care, which, by the way, brings
everyone into a frenzy of one sort or another. It is interesting how people go on and on about the horrible state of our foster care system ... we all feel so free to talk about this topic and how 'awful' it is for 'those' children. And yet, we do not have a better solution.

I promise, the conversation is just that predictable. On vacation, I almost decided to say the boys were a year apart just to quell the curious. People are just trying to be nice, I know. And, on other topics, I'm the first to talk and talk and talk. I just never want our wee ones to think their lives are the subject of odd conversation. Additionally, our older two do not know the details and won't unless the younger boys choose to tell them their stories.

Bottom line, as I write this I realize that it has to be the prompting of God to share our story and not some odd feeling of peer pressure. So, that is where I will leave this vent. If you have any other ideas, experiences or suggestions on this topic, I'm all ears.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beach Bums Return Home ...

Each May, my side of the family ventures down to South Padre Island for a week of part family vacation / part family reunion. This year was the first visit to the beach for both of the little boys. It was great fun to watch their discovery ...
No, I'm not a girl! Those curls are just my Mom's way of keeping me a baby :) (Several people asked about our baby girl - what?.)

They are making me wear this silly thing even though I don't even like the water!
Last year, Little Mommy would hardly get in the water; this year, she puts Budding Author to the challenge...

I just know I can catch them, just give me one more try!

All dressed up ...
Big brother and his parrot friend.

Allow me to show you my cape!

Daddy and Little Crab Cake...

My Mom & Dad with our 4.
Our big boy fished in the ocean and caught 3 fish of his very own! He saw dolphin and even a hammerhead shark.

We are happy to be home to get some rest from that vacation we just had :)... isn't that the way it always goes?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We are Alike, She & I - Part 2

Last Fall, I wrote extensively about Little Boy Blue's Mommy, here and here and here ... It boggles my mind how a stubborn woman like me could ever be changed as drastically as God has changed me. One obvious way He has changed my heart is in relation to Little Boy Blue's Mommy.

After she relinquished her parental rights, I continued to have this burden for her on my heart. She would pop into my brain at least 10 times per day. My hubby & I continued to pray for her salvation and complete recovery and healing. I felt led to have a friend contact several ministries that work with women in jail settings. That same friend and I have also diligently prayed for her ...

A few weeks back, I finally made good on my promise to send Little Boy Blue's family some pictures. I also wrote a letter to his Mommy and one to his Great-Grandmother. My prayer was that in some way I could reassure his Mommy of something, I wasn't sure exactly what... maybe I was just trying to make sure Little Boy Blue would have an open door if he ever wanted to contact her.

I've checked the P.O. Box we set up several times since then and it was always empty. Until yesterday. Two letters sat in that little gray space. My heart raced as I saw one was from his Mommy and one from his Great-Grandmother (GG). Tears just ran down my face as I read of a Mother's love for her son... one that would sacrifice her own desires for his best interest.

Here are a few of her words:
"I have a good feeling in my heart about you and God meant for this to happen, no matter how difficult it is for me, I embrace the comfort I feel when I realize he is with other children in a beautiful home, with a creative, kind woman and a good family. I do feel that you have given him a better chance at a good life than I could have in my position... After I signed I knew that I had done the right thing for him, instead of being selfish like I wanted to be."

That stops me cold. She wrote 4 pages along these lines. As I read her words, I felt so happy for Little Boy Blue and the fact that he will get to meet her one day, if he chooses. How wonderful for him to have that option!

And she mentioned God and prayer several times... I have great hope for her life. Maybe one day I'll write her back and tell her about the God I know and how He can pick her up, wrap her in His arms and restore her life. I know from experience that He is faithful.

For today, I bask in her words of affirmation. I no longer have to imagine what she thinks about us having Little Boy Blue, now I know!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Clutter Coach

At what point did I ever think that I needed:

4 bathrobes
30 diaper burp cloths
20 baby bottles
35 t-shirts
2 Coca-cola puzzles (over 500 pieces each)
43 scarves of varying color and size from my working days

Somewhere along the way, I've fallen for the notion that "If one at $2.99 is a great deal, then I must need 2 or 3 at $2.99, right?!" As a consequence, my house has become a battleground for great deals gone bad.

And yet, a page has turned, a new era has dawned... and I'm cleaning out with a vengeance! Wanna know the really cool thing about this? I have a dear friend who spent her entire day with me yesterday coaxing me out of my 'keep it' habit. And, she is still my friend... an even greater thing!!

In almost 9 hours, we got through my kitchen, two closets upstairs and my closet. That doesn't sound like much, does it. Our output was 6-7 extra-large black garbage bags full of trash and a huge kick-start on the garage sale that is going to happen in June.

I have a LOOOONNNGGG way to go still and it overwhelms me... but, I have a 'clutter coach' of my very own. With her help, the material stuff is going 'bye-bye' and freedom is on the other side.

Wouldn't you like a 'clutter coach' of your own?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Makes a Mommy...

With Mother's Day just passing and another adoption on the way, I've been thinking about the question of 'What Makes a Mommy?' ... Do genes and DNA make a Mommy? Does providing the basic necessities of life make a Mommy? Does reading 'I Love You This Much' for the 500th time make a Mommy?

At what point did I become Mommy to Prince Caspian? He called me Mama almost from day one... not out of affection for me, he didn't even know me. But I was the closest thing to the closest thing he ever knew of a Mama... his foster Mom. Did I become his Mommy when I signed the paperwork saying I would take him into our home as a foster/adopt placement for 6 months? Did I become his Mommy when I lay down beside him for his naps so that he would know someone cared in this strange place? Did I become his Mommy when he started enjoying his baths? Did I become his Mommy when that gavel struck down and said he was legally mine forever?

I don't know the when or where. I just know it happened. One special day, his heart decided to really trust me. I'd love to claim that moment as my own and say I'm just a perfect Mommy. Hee... hee.. But the truth is, God chose to weave that love into both of our hearts. I know I'm different because of it.

If you have a few extra blog-reading minutes today, here is a great post from a 'cyber friend' who has adopted 2 girls. The Truth About Adoption is a worthwhile post to read.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What Kind of Flowers Grow in Your Garden?

With all of the Spring garden action going on around here (including much weed-growing), I've been pondering the topic of sowing and reaping on a regular basis. In fact, the card I bought for my Mom even had a 'growing' theme.

Am I sowing 'seeds of love' into the lives of our family members? Do I water these tiny seedlings with laughter and encouragement? Do I turn their little faces toward the Light, the source of all of our hope? Will I see God's bountiful harvest in their lives as they become parents and spouses?

Today was a very special day... my very first breakfast in bed. Alex worked hard this morning to make cherry pancakes, bacon and eggs. He brought me coffee and forced me to stay in bed to have my quiet time. This time was very meaningful as God really brought the above questions about sowing His seeds in our family. He also made something very clear to me regarding the look, feel and size of our family; but that is too much to share for this day.

After church, I spent the afternoon with my Mom, just the two of us. There were no little noses to wipe, no dirty hands to clean, no hungry mouths to feed, no tiny hand twisting my shirt into a security blanket, no tantrums and no tears. We had a ball ... and she graciously allowed me to pick out my own birthday present, a few shorts and blouses. I'd say I'm a lucky gal!

I finished my afternoon off with grocery shopping (saved over $100 for you bargainers) and headed home to a freshly cleaned car (rare thing for me out here in the sticks) and a tired hubby.

What a day!! How was yours? Did your precious wee ones shower you with their love? Did you hear the still, small voice of God saying 'Well done!' I hope so.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Smack Dab in the Middle of Life ...

As I sit here, firmly planted at my kitchen table with my morning cup steaming by my side, I realize that on so many levels I'm in the middle. Age wise, according to longevity studies, I'm quickly approaching the middle mark. Maturity wise, I'm 'somewhere in the middle.' And on a personal level, we are smack dab in the middle of a tumultuous job situation.

We are a one-income family, for the most part. My tidbits of legal work do not add anything of financial significance to our family. This places the financial burden completely on the shoulders of my ever-so-capable, strong and handsome Strapping Scotsman. He is one of those who stays with a job until the lights go out, so to speak. He works for a consulting firm in the pharmaceutical industry. Last week we found out that the client he consults with did not get their product approved by the FDA. It will be at least a year before this happens. Not good news. Consulting is a project-by-project gig. The consulting firm he works for does not have another project, they were banking on the one that did not get approved. Therefore, they can only promise Alex a job through the end of May.

We trust that this transition will be resolved and that it will be abundantly clear the direction we are to move. So far, Alex has considered and applied to jobs in Salt Lake City (shock to my system), California (we would live at a very different standard of living!), Denver (great idea!), Research Triangle area of North Carolina (Christy, I'd love to be closer so that our little ones could meet one another and play together!) and Maryland (where I lived as a child.) Could the Waits Family be on the move? Possibly. And yet, something could absolutely pop up right here in North Texas.

Please pray for us, as a family. Uncertainty with employment is not easy, as many of my closest friends know from personal experience. Please pray for Alex's stamina. May we all rest in the One who knows exactly where we will land and when.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and be concerned about this family. I'm so grateful to have this sounding board and mode of communication to the people we love most. It is in no way comparable to those one-on-one visits we enjoy; however, it beats the alternative!


Pride Posts Updated...

For those of you who have clicked through on the 'Pride' topic to my friend's blog, I don't think I gave the correct link to the 1st post; my apologies... here are the links to all 3, I do believe:

Thoughts on Pride - First Post
Recognizing Personal Pride - Second Post
Recognizing Personal Pride Part 2 - A Vertical Pride - Third Post

Blessings and may your pride be squelched today :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

It's a Bird, It's a Plane... No, It Must Be a Flock of Coupons!

The oddest thing happened to me on Wednesday. It was almost so surreal that I have to check myself and determine if it really happened.

I have come to love coupons. Thanks to Wendy, I'm back in the Grocery Game. I used to play the Grocery Game years ago with Bobo, Angi & Ally, but then it just became too complicated when I moved to the sticks. With soaring grocery prices and great encouragement from Wendy, I have officially hopped back on board.

Over these last few months of clipping coupons, I've amassed millions of these paper gems. I've saved our family hundreds of dollars on groceries which makes for a very happy husband. These millions of 'coups'
were neatly organized by shopping category in a pink, plastic organizer that travels with me to the grocery.

OK.... so, Laura, get to the story! Wednesday morning I had about 45.2 minutes to shop for groceries and make a few more stops before heading to pick up the two little guys. So, I jump out of my car with coups and purse under my arm. I still don't know how it happened. I've replayed it over and over again in my brain wondering just how strong that wind could have been to dislodge my grasp.

What I
do remember next is hours of work clipping coupons literally flying from my arms and filling the sky one by one. My hands could not move; I was absolutely helpless to prevent further loss. The coups quickly filed out of my organizer like little soldiers headed for the sky.

And then it was quiet. The storm passed and the damage was complete. After a survey of the disaster, it seems that only the 'household' coupons mutinied, while the paper goods and cereal coupons were happy to remain under my watchful care. I may note that the 'household' section was my largest and most important collection. Alas.