"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Friday, September 23, 2016

Period.

I've had a few questions lately about Eleanor. Telling you about the first situation will help me to explain the rest.  I should mention that these were both asked by people who we know, not strangers. 

Person: So, does she feel like yours?
Me: Huh? ...oh... yes.  She is mine.  There's no difference. 

I know this question was meant as an honest inquiry into how I feel toward my adopted child versus my biological children, but I honestly didn't know what this person meant when they said, "So, does she feel like yours?"  My brain really didn't comprehend the question.  I said, "Huh?" out of sincere confusion.  Then it dawned on me and the best response I could come up with was an honest one.  She is mine.  Period. 
Perhaps I would have liked to elaborate and say, "She doesn't feel like she's mine, she actually is mine.  There's no difference.  I was pregnant with my first two babies and someone else was pregnant with my third baby.  That's the only difference."  I knew this person didn't say this to me to be rude and it wasn't necessary, nor would it have been helpful, for me to elaborate.  The conversation ended there and no harm was done. 
I will openly admit this... before I was an adoptive mother, I didn't know how talk about adoption either.  I had never been in that position and I didn't understand what may or may not be appropriate to ask in casual conversation.  Also, I'm not a huge fan of the articles that float around telling people what they should or shouldn't say in certain situations or to certain people because I feel like they are often used to shame those who honestly don't know any better.  I'm not trying to shame anyone (can I declare that as a legal disclaimer?  How does one do that?  Do I just declare it? I AM NOT TRYING TO SHAME ANYONE.  There, does that work?) I am going to go ahead and share with you my advice as one adoptive mother.  I don't know how other adoptive parents feel.  I would imagine that since each parent walks a unique journey in the adoption of each unique child, that none of us have the same experience or feelings about the process or our children.  I do think I can probably make a suggestion here, though.  Don't ask that question.  Don't ask if their child feels like their child.  It's not cool.  If you're super close to someone and you're having an intimate conversation and that person is a willing participant then, sure, go ahead.  I'm certain your dear friend would willingly talk to you about the emotional experience of adopting a child.  Otherwise, asking if your child feels like yours is kind of silly and could make a parent feel like you don't think of them as their child's REAL parent.  (That reminds me, I've had more than one person in the past ask me about Eleanor's "real" mom.  That's hurtful.  Don't say that.  I'm her real mom.  Drew is her real dad.  We are not her fake mom & dad.  We are the real thing.  I would suggest that if you really need to ask that question then you use the term "biological" or "birth".  Also, you probably don't need to ask that question.)
All of that said, it's totally okay to ask about adoption if you are sincerely interested in the process.  Just be respectful.  Drew & I haven't been asked these questions yet, but I've heard plenty of stories of people asking crazy rude things like, "Where did you get her?" or "How much did she cost?"  I know that none of you lovely people would ever say anything so terrible, but just in case you know someone who would... tell them not to.  Imagine how you would feel if a person asked you intimate questions about how your biological child was conceived.  It's kind of the same thing... as in, it's none of your business.  One thing about Eleanor is that she sort of looks like us.  She has some physical similarities to us (you wouldn't believe how many times people have commented about how much she looks like Drew!), but we are also the same race.  I don't anticipate as many of these questions because it's not physically apparent that we are an adoptive family.  Parents who adopt children of different races often have to deal with more probing questions from strangers because the physical differences are more obvious.  This leads me to a more common question that we've been asked...

Person: "Are you going to tell her that she is adopted?" 
Me: "Yes.  Our intention is that she will always know that she's adopted." 

I totally get this question and it's a fair one.  That's why I'm sharing it here, because while many of you know the answer already, I'm guessing that some of you have probably wondered the same thing and just haven't asked. 
The elaborated answer:
Drew & I have felt from the very beginning of Eleanor's adoption process that we would never keep it a secret.  Here's why... a secret is something that is conducted without the knowledge of others.  Eleanor has been ours since the day she was born, so she won't have any personal recollection of the process, but it is still part of her story.  We don't ever want her to feel like she doesn't have 100% ownership of her own story.  It is hers.  Of course, the details of what she knows will depend on her age, what she wants to know, and her ability to understand the details, but it will never be a secret.  This is also why the majority of you only know the basics of the adoption and of Eleanor's birth mom.  It's Eleanor's story and we don't ever want her to feel like anyone else has more information about her life than she does.  We don't have a specific age in mind that we will sit down and "break the news" to her.  I don't see it going like that at all.  We know that there will be difficult moments.  We imagine there will be moments as she gets a bit older and has normal little kid questions (and later, more grown up questions) that it will be a more serious conversation, but it is not now, nor will it ever be, a secret that we keep from her.  I mean, really, she has an awesome story.  I pray that despite all the feelings she will one day deal with over this that she will always remember that she had a birth mom who loved her enough to make sure she would have a safe & happy life and that she has a Mommy & Daddy who love her enough to make that happen.  Period. 

Maybe I should end with this, just so I don't sound like I'm telling you all to never bring up adoption.  Drew & I are really happy to be Eleanor's parents and we are so grateful for how it happened.  It's not a secret, it's just part of our testimony and we are happy to share it.  If you ever have sincere questions about adoption (for us or for someone else you know), it's totally okay to bring that up.  A really good way to do this would be to say, "I'd really love to talk to you about Eleanor's adoption sometime."  You could even elaborate and say, "We are thinking of adoption ourselves and we'd love to hear about your experience" or "I'm just really fascinated with the idea of adoption and if you're willing then I'd love to hear about your journey."  Those are really non threatening and inviting ways to start such a conversation. 

And just to keep things real... a picture of a snotty nosed Eleanor sitting under my desk, pulling papers out of a box, and gnawing on an old (and unplugged!) computer wire while I type.  Parenting win. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Testing

The blogger app that I've used to blog from my phone forever is no longer working, so I've had to choose another. Let's try this and see if it works. Testing, testing. 
I took Grandpa for an EGD this morning. He's had trouble swallowing for a good long while and it has finally become a big enough issue with eating & drinking that he was willing to have it checked out. 
Good news: No cancer or other big scary things. He had a stricture (scar tissue, likely from years of acid reflux) that was narrowing his esophagus and makes swallowing difficult. They stretched it out and we are hoping that does the trick. Fingers crossed and prayers being said that he will be able to eat easier and can put some weight back on. 
An EGD is done under conscious sedation, which means he's still pretty loopy and wobbly, so I'm hanging out with him until he's safe to be alone. Also, he's really funny on drugs.  Just a few random and funny things he said in the hour after waking up...

"It wouldn't take much paint to paint a fire hydrant, would it?" 

"When is Stacey going to... Stacey... not Stacey... Casey... CASEY... when is Casey going to be there?" 

"There sure are a lot of foreigners in the medical field." 

Grandpa: Wouldn't that be fun if they brought their weapons and had a shoot out?
Me: what? Who?
Grandpa:  All these bikers. 
Me: For Bikes, Blues & BBQ? 
Grandpa: Yeah, wouldn't that be fun? They could all bring their weapons with them and have a shoot out. 
Me: Um...
Grandpa:  Well, they have my permission. 

Y'all that last one was so funny. I finally told him that he would be a terrible drunk. 
He said he wasn't hungry, but I knew he needed to eat, so we stopped for a malt on the way home. And then this. Hilarious. 
 
Since we've been home he's declared he's taking the trash out, has to stand up to swallow his medicine and that he NEEDS to wash his bedding. So far I've kept him seated while I took the trash out and washed his bedding. At the moment he is asleep in his recliner, the dog is asleep at his feet, and Eleanor is asleep on the quilt in the floor. Here's hoping that he wakes up feeling more coherent. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekend

Sometimes a girl just needs to wear a tutu. 
In the dog bowl! 

 I love when Eleanor wakes up in the mornings.  She wakes up slowly (Drew says she gets that from me!) and then she's always most excited to see the dogs come to her crib when I open the door.  There's not really a great way to capture those moments, but I took the camera with me & tried. 
Blowing Foose a kiss from her bed. 

 Already smiling that big happy smile. 
 I finally made Eleanor the growth chart I've had planned in my head and Drew secured it to the wall in her room so that we can mark her growth as times passes.  She's 29.25 inches tall (and really cute). 
 She's a big fan of pushing this train around, which she can do by herself now.  She also wants to sit on the train, which she cannot do by herself because she's still a bit too short. 
 Got to see Braeden for a bit on the day before his birthday.  I was going to just take a picture of them and then I said, "Eleanor, can you give Braeden a birthday kiss?"  This is what he got :) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I might be stuck.

Because chubby little baby ankles & tiny pink Converse deserve a picture. 
Check me out, there's a dog on my head. 
I might be stuck under my crib. Maybe. It's possible that I may need some assistance. 
On Saturday we met the Harris & McMullen cousins for a photo session. The first outfit theme was Razorback and Eleanor was looking super Hog fan cute before we left the house. 
Happy to see Nonnie. 
Eleanor wasn't exactly a great photo subject. She got fed up pretty quickly and once she started crying it went downhill quickly. Eventually I just went & sat in the back room and let everyone else handle her. JR was a champ and helped by letting her sit in his lap. 
Sometimes mommy makes everything better, sometimes mommy just makes it worse. Know what I mean? When everything was all over I snapped this selfie with her. Her eyes pretty well express her level of enthusiasm over the entire situation. 
Later that evening and ready for the Hogs to play. Clearly, me asking her to sit still for one more picture was completely unreasonable. 
But it was worth it because we got some great photos. We don't have the actual prints yet, but these little tid bits are delicious. 
Back in real life... my kid loves to wear the Mr. Potato Head glasses. 
...and my dad's old cowboy hat. 
Organizing Daddy's contact lenses in the bathroom floor while Mommy gets ready for the day. 
Crazy Mac. This entire huge house to hang out in (with a dog bed all his own) and he chooses to curl up on a burp cloth that fell on the floor. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Introvert for Christ

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm an introvert.  I've blogged about it many times before and I think I probably refer to the term "introvert" so often because I didn't learn what that meant until I was an adult & sometimes it's just nice to know that it's okay that my personality has certain quirks that make me who I am (and not that I'm weird and anti-social).  Well, I'm weird, but I'm okay with that. For me, being an introvert means that social situations require a large amount of energy.  I often feel overwhelmed at the thought of social events (especially big gathering or things with people I don't know) and have to pump myself up just to show up.  That's not to say that I don't ever enjoy social time, I just have to use a lot of emotional energy while I'm there and then sometimes I feel really wiped out when it's over.  I've heard it called an "introvert hangover" and I think that pretty well sums it up.  I do actually have a point...
For the last few months we've been on the search for the new church home that we know God has for us.  We are pretty sure we've found it.  It took a good while for this gal to actually start visiting churches because, you know, it's easier to stay with what is familiar even if it isn't what is right anymore.  Well guess what? Easy isn't in the job description. After much prayer & conversation, Drew & I began visiting churches a couple months ago and feel like we may have found the right place for our family.  It's big.  Really big.  Even I am surprised that the place we have chosen is so large.  I'm not a big crowd kind of girl, but this place just feels right.  God is there.  There are tons of kiddos of all ages, so there is plenty of opportunity for Eleanor.  The worship service we have been attending seems a good fit for us, so far we've really enjoyed the pastor(s) and each week we have walked away feeling convicted, like we have gained a lesson God needed us to learn, and that we want to go back.  Heck, we're even really digging the worship music that we weren't so sure we would be in to (it's hard to go from a life time of traditional worship to a more contemporary worship).  So, that's all good.  But, like I said, it's big.  That means there are plenty of programs and opportunity and outreach, but it also means that it would be quite easy to just show up and Sunday mornings and "fly under the radar".  That isn't what we set out to find.  We are/were looking for a place to be plugged in.  We aren't new to Christianity, but we have lots to learn, plenty of growing to do, untapped talents to discover & offer, and we very much desire fellowship with other people in our stage of life to do those things with.  So... we've known from the beginning that we weren't looking to just do an hour on Sunday mornings.  Honestly, I prefer to take things a bit slower and ease my way in to new situations, but sometimes God says, "Hey, it's time."  Enter Community Group.  Some churches call them small groups, ours calls them Community Groups.  They meet in different locations & homes in our area and create a place of Bible study & fellowship in smaller & more intimate settings.  It's the nitty gritty. The meat & potatoes. The fall community group kick off started yesterday.  Of course you can join in anytime, but we felt God nudging and saying, "Do it now."  Heck, if you're going to be the new kids at school then you may as well start on the first day of school so at least you are with the other new kids.  Know what I mean?  So last week we signed up online (perks to a big church that is tech savvy, they are able to make it more convenient & less intimidating to check things out and take the first steps to getting involved).  When presented with our options we ultimately chose the group that described itself as composed of young families with kids ranging from 1-12 years old, that kids were welcome to come along and that with that many little ones it could get sometimes get a little crazy.  That sounded about right for us and seemed like as good a place as any to start.  Honestly?  Hitting the button just to sign up took some courage.  More honesty?  The closer we got to Sunday evening, the more I was anxious over it.  If I actually had one of these shirts, it would have been the most truthful thing I could have worn to last night's group.  

Can I get an Amen?  Introverts Unite.  Appropriate for meeting our new community group?  Probably not, but still true.  God knows and I'm pretty sure He has a sense of humor, so it's all good.  The important thing is that I did show up.  I was uncomfortable (Drew was, too) because change is often uncomfortable.  We felt vulnerable and anxious.  We went anyway.  It wasn't easy.  We went anyway.  What's that song I learned at church camp as a kid? "Here I am, Lord." 
The report: There are a total of 13 adults, all about our age.  (Actually, according to the group membership roster that lists all of our birthdays, I am the oldest, but only by a year.)  6 of us were new to the group, the other 7 have been together for a while.  There were 6 kiddos present and quite a few others that will be there in the future.  We had dinner and then a Bible study.  Everyone was nice and I think it will all be okay.  I am hopeful that it will not just be okay, but that it will be awesome.  I'm hopeful that these people will become our people and that we will encourage each other in our walks with Christ.  Right now they are still just strangers and we are just trying to remember names with faces.  It seems like there is a cliché quote that I could share here to represent the situation.  How about one of these? 


(I'm being funny here, in case you couldn't tell. Just pick an inspirational quote if it makes you feel better.  I mean, they are all true, but it's nothing we don't already know.)
One big thing weighing on me & Drew is Alex & Emma.  The girls were a huge part of our lives, our marriage, and our walk with Christ.  They still are.  They are part of our fabric, but not everyone knows that and it's not exactly an appropriate conversation starter.  There wasn't the proper scenario to bring that up last night (which makes the anticipation of when it will come up seem daunting), but we know it will come up when the time is right.  It's not a fear that it will ever be a problem, it's just not something that most people know how to handle and sometimes things get awkward and weird when people realize our history. Three cheers for being uncomfortable. 
So did I leave feeling awesome and renewed? Nope. I left feeling like I had taken the first step and I was exhausted.  Completely worn out.  I'm glad we went and we will go again next week.  Every person there was there for the same reason we were... fellowship with other believers, because God didn't call us to do life alone.  They could be our people.  We'll see.  That doesn't change the fact that I feel wiped out even today.  Yep, it's that pesky introvert hangover.  It's a real thing.  How can I wrap this up?  Oh, I know, how about another inspirational  quote.  You know you want one. 
Nope, that's not the right one.  This is the right one. 
Amen to that. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Phone

I've posted a few times in the last week, but they were photos from the big camera and I forgot all about the pictures on my phone. So here's your daily dose of Eleanor. 
Trying to step into the mirror in the dressing room while I tried on pants (which, by the way, is not something that I recommend doing with a toddler).
John & Alison met us at a Naturals baseball game one evening. 
When the game goes to 11 innings and it's after 10pm... 
Drew smoked a pork butt on Friday night. It was delicious (and a good excuse for pack porch sitting with these lovely people). 
Sunday afternoon football watching with Daddy. 
Mall walking with Grandma LaGayle

Sunday, September 4, 2016

14 Months

Here we are, at the 4th of the month again.  Yep, that means I'm doing a monthly birthday post for Eleanor.  I. Can't. Stop.  Each moment seems like a big moment that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. 

Stats:
  • Weighs 21 pounds and wears a 12-18 month clothing size and size 2 shoe (tiny feet). 
  • Has 9 teeth, the newest of which is a top molar (Also, don't put your finger in there to check.  You WILL be bitten. Don't say I didn't warn you.)
  • Crawls, pulls up, and stands independently.
  • Cruising just a bit, but no real interest in walking just yet.
  • Thinks it's cool that her finger fits perfectly up her nostril. 
  • Still loves balls & books, and really loves her baby dolls. 
  • Can stack two blocks (which Mommy thinks is cool and developmentally significant, but Eleanor doesn't really care). 
  • Likes to stand at the windows and look outside. 
  • Is a big fan of the nursery at our new church.  Is always excited to see the other little kiddos and not sad to see us go at all!  This morning she was pointing and saying, "Down!" before we even got to the door of her classroom.  (P.S. this makes our mommy & daddy hearts super happy)
  • Recently discovered that she loves sausage, cinnamon raisin bread, potato salad, and baked beans (not all together, of course).  Still a big fan of strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, yogurt, and graham crackers. 
  • TALKS.  A.  LOT.   Lots of words.  I'm not even sure I could make you a list of all the things she says now.  I would have to work on it for a while.  Everyone who meets her marvels on how much she has to say and finds her Southern drawl quite adorable.  I agree.  Also, I've recently noticed that she throws much fewer fits from frustration over not being able to tell me what she wants and shows slightly more frustrations from telling me what she wants, me understanding, and then being told she can't have/do it.  It turns out that being able to express your feelings doesn't mean you always get your way.  Bummer. 

Aunt Becky jokingly (I think) offered to make us monthly stickers to last through Eleanor's 18th birthday, but in the absence of those, I just have some pretty pictures of a pretty girl.  This was before church this morning and since I already had the big camera out, I took advantage of the moment for a few photos. 


Don't know what this face was for, but it sure is expressive. 
 This might be my favorite picture of her to date.  It really captures her joy and big personality.  Oh, I love it.  (By the way, she was looking at her Daddy.  Daddies do that to their little girls, make their faces light up.) 

 Winking at Daddy.  It's so funny to watch because it's a full face, both eyes, wink and she's so pleased with herself for doing it. 

 And because I was holding the camera and we were all ready for church and looking pretty.  It was supposed to be a quick selfie, which would have meant a regular smile for the camera.  Instead, Drew pinched me right before I hit the button and I wound up with this... A real smile from both of us.  Those are the best. 
Same picture, but I always feel pretty in black in white.  It's my blog, I'll post two pictures of myself if I want to :)