Monday, December 31, 2012

The Lord shows mercy to the orphans....

There are moments I look at throughout my life as moments that change who I am. Moments that alter how I see myself and the world around me. I would love to say that I am openminded enough that this happens often, but that is not true. I have been blessed to have had many opportunities in my life to see the world..... But only a few change my core.... My dreams..... My worldview.

This weekend r, j, baby girl and I all stayed with 10 of the most loving, beautiful children you will ever meet in your life. They are aged from 8-15 and act the same as any child you know in those ages. There were 6 boys and 4 girls.

Everything was as you would expect. The boys don't like to take showers, the teenage girls are concerned about how their hair and makeup looks. They love to hug and kiss..... And chase and be chased.... They are great at video games and we watched movies together. Some like sausage and eggs... Some prefer cereal. Guitars and pianos are fascinating. Footballs and soccer balls are constant. Nap time is reluctant. But meals are just plain fun.

They are typical kids.

Except for two things:
1. They aren't from around here :) they are Ukrainian. So, if you add all the fun of that many kids in a house together with the idea that you only understand a small portion of the English  they have learned in the last week or so that they have been here.... You can imagine the chaos....

2. These kids are orphans. They don't have families. They came from 4 different orphanages in the Ukraine. I have heard it said that an orphans is just an orphan until they have a face.... This is painfully true to me right now. While to many, these kids are nameless, faceless poor children who need someone else to care; these kids, with their personalities so distinct, their stories so scarred and varied, but their love still so available, have attached to my heart in a way I never thought possible. Not just one or two... But all 10, in their own little way.

Adoption is a dream for each one, but not a promise they have been given. Every moment in the US is part of a performance of sorts. Not to be manipulative, but to give it all they have, with everyone they meet, in the hopes of accomplishing their dream. They are sometimes tired... Exhausted even, and yet, when they get a chance, they smile, try their English with yet another stranger, and pray that someone will love them.

I am amazed at the strength. I am overwhelmed at the ability to love. I am humbled by the courage. I am grateful for what I have been entrusted with, my children, husband, family, friends, material possessions, etc. I am less attached to my "things" and oh so much more attached to people than I ever have been before. These kids, when meeting people, aren't sizing up how nice the cars are, or how big the houses are. They are looking for love. Don't get me wrong, they know about cars..... They understand what it is to have nice things, they just seem to have the priorities so lined up that they know that things are cool..... But the love of a family is worth so much more.

I do not know right now what the long term impact will be from this worldview change. I only know that I am glad I am changed and I pray that I never forget these amazing kids that attached to my heart so quickly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

because 140 characters won't work

No way this could fit on FB or twitter.

There are days that I think - "wow... my life could have been a movie!" Or, "this story is great!"

And then there is today.

I'm gonna back up quickly - the last 11 years have been quite a trip.

From jungles in Belize, villages in Ecuador, the inner city in Maracaibo,Venezuela, and Kingston Jamaica, the beach in Phuket and the mountains in Chang Mai, Thaland....

From a year in Europe including trips to Paris, Berlin, and London... and a vacation that was made up of a night hiking waterfalls in Austria, several days on the beach in Italy and driving through the Swiss Alps.

From 7 months living on a bus - traveling the US. It had ups and downs - but still one of those things. Florida to NY - Georgia to California - Texas to Michigan... and a week in the Dominican Republic.

From meeting the man of my dreams - getting engaged the second time we saw each other and being married less than 5 months from when we first met.

From working with Congressmen, Statesmen, meeting Governors and Presidential candidates and serving on the First Lady of Virginia's "Flite Team" - and even having dinner in the Governor's personal home - and a few weeks later lunch in the Governor's mansion.

From dear friends all over the US that are some of the largest blessings in my life.

From two beautiful children that are - in my humble opinion - the smartest, fastest, most amazing children God ever created..... most of the time ;)

... To today.

Today - this movie is a comedy I am sure.

Today has included not one but two emergency baths due to poop. Yep. I said it. Poop. One had it down the legs to somehow getting in the toes.... the other had poop in the hair. Not sure how that happened exactly.

Today I have put clean dishes in the fridge instead of the cabinet, I have cleaned scrambled eggs out of my hair, and found a lost paci in my own shirt,

Today I have put a load of dirty (poopy) laundry into the bathtub that was waiting for a kid to get in - instead of the washing machine.

Today I have found 6 different cups full of water, where I fixed it for myself, set it down, forgot about it and apparently went to get another cup of water.

Today I diffused a complete 2 year old meltdown with a cup of juice and a banana.

Today, my major celebration came when I realized that two kids were sleeping at the same time and I could take a shower. I refuse to admit how long it has been since I was clean.

Yet - - today I got to sit and draw cars, cheeseburgers, stars and circles on a magna doodle and laugh with an energetic 2 year old.

And - Today I was smiled at by a beautiful girl right after she finished eating.

Today has been a day for the books. A day that I literally could NOT wait for naptime....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baby L

In July 2010, our little world was rocked by the entrance of our son, J.... I told the story on the blog then as best I could remember in those few days following. Our little world was changed again this last weekend when Baby L made her grand entrance into our family. So, again, as best as I can remember it.... here is the story of her arrival.

On Thursday, I was 40 weeks and 5 days... so, 5 days past due date when I had an ultrasound and non-stress test. The ultrasound looked great, the non-stress test looked fine... but when they took my blood pressure, it was high. Now, I never have high blood pressure. Ever. So, when it is touching the borderline areas - it is shocking! Doc mentioned induction since I was already also at 3.5 cm.

In both pregnancies, I have really wanted to go into labor naturally. I thought I would always want drugs to fix pain once it got started, but I wanted the experience of starting labor on my own.

So far, I am 0 for 2 on that one. The babies just don't seem to want to get out! :)

So, on Friday morning, R and I got to the hospital at 5:30am and get the party started. I had been having more contractions through the night and even on the way to the hospital, but I knew that they weren't really strong enough to be doing anything...

It took a little while to get everything started - the pitocin started around 7am and the doc came to check and I was already at 4cm at this point.

I have to be honest and say that the timeline gets a little fuzzy for me at this point. See, with J, I was in labor for around 17 hours. I thought I was settling in for a long trip. Even if it was half of his, I still would have 8ish hours!

My family started arriving around 8am, and by then I had already had to put my phone down and quit playing on FB and such because the contractions were already so strong and so close together. L's heartrate was staying strong through each contraction and everything was progressing. They checked around 8:30 and we were already to 6cm.

I turned on my baby arrival playlist then and began to go to my own little world with each contraction. They felt like they never would quit. I thought they were coming SO close together, but the nurse was promising it was about 2.5 mins between each one.

At 9:30 I sent my family out, she checked again and I was at 8cm. I still had not asked for my epidural. I had a few questions for the nurse. 1. How long will it take for the epidural to be administered? She said it usually is 20-25 minutes to get it all in place. 2. How long, once given, would it take to start working? She said that would also be 20ish minutes. 3. I knew she couldn't make any promises, but realistically, if everything stayed the same, how long until I was ready to have the baby? She said she thought it would be about an hour.

I looked at the clock, did the math in my head - I was really looking at about 15 minutes of possible pain free time if all went well. But I remembered that the epidural made me really sick with J's birth... shakes, puking, etc. I knew that if I got it that late, it would make it harder for me to be able to hold L when she did arrive.

So, I said, no epidural - let's do this.

Now, I had read tons of stories of moms who do natural labor and have these beautiful stories. I had said that I wanted one of these stories - but was always afraid to plan it. I have to say, this was not quite what I had read about. I did not get to a beautiful planet experience. It hurt.

It hurt bad! Each contraction was a new, more powerful experience. Ronnie was my rock. My playlist was playing, Ronnie was reading scripture through the down times in the contractions, and holding my hand and rubbing my back/shoulders through each contraction. I am sure that without him by my side, I would never have made it through this labor without the epidural. I was telling him at times I couldn't do it - he just looked back and smiled... sometimes seriously telling me I could. Sometimes telling me that I would get an iPad if I saved money on the anesthesiologist... Sometimes just telling me I didn't have a choice:) I sure love that guy.

She checked again and I was at 9+cm. She sent to tell the doc I was close. I told her I felt like I could push. She said I wasn't quite ready, but that I could go ahead and do a practice push if I wanted to.

I did.

Something changed.

I told her something changed - she looked. She started pushing buttons, calling people, etc. She said "she's crowning." At that point, Ronnie and the nurse and the OB tech were the only ones in the room. She and Ronnie start telling me "don't push!" I was telling my self "don't push!" "breathe!" etc. There was nothing I could say that would convince my body to quit pushing. I pushed 3 more times while trying not to - and on the 4th push the nurse was pulling her gloves on as she caught little L's head. One more push and L was born, at 10:38am. Ronnie and the nurse pretty much delivered her!

The Doctor walked in as Ronnie was cutting the cord.

At this point I got the beautiful story I wanted. They laid her on my chest for a few minutes of skin to skin contact, and she nursed for the first time. Her initial vitals were done while on me - and then Ronnie got to hold her. I have to say, the first moments of L's life were completely different from the first moments of J's life two years earlier. While his had been scary and stressful because of stress on his little body - hers was intense for me, yet once she was out - it was beautiful. My first moments holding her were absolutely amazing. It was perfect.

She is tiny - 6lbs 13 oz - 19 inches long. She is beautiful. She looks like her brother. I love her more than I could ever imagine.

Baby L, you are amazing already. Your little life has changed our world and we love you so much. J is in love with you and walks up to you for a kiss multiple times a day. He wants to share with you so bad! We are enjoying every moment of your little life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

wow - march.

jan 1-march 7 has been quite a trip.

But for now, I am going to try to just put words around the last week.

R and I bought a house last Wednesday, and thanks to TONS of help Friday and Saturday - we are moved in! Pretty amazing to be in my own home! We loved our last home in VA, but it was always a rental... ya know? So crazy for this to really be ours.

The one phrase I am sure I heard 1 million times was "you aren't doing too much are you?" Ummm... well... sure, of course I am. Since finding out I was pregnant back in September, we have had a job change, moved 5 states away, spend 10 weeks living with my parents, moved into our own home, gone through several weeks of R's training during day shift - - - -- - and now are testing out night shift (ew) - - -

Sunday we were still unpacking. R was on his first night shift - I was feeding Josiah his cucumbers and microwaving my left-over pizza and my phone rang. (yeah, his food is more healthy than mine sometimes :)) It was my sister with horrible information.

My dad was on his way home from church on his motorcycle and was hit by a driver in a truck. The driver drove off. A man from our church saw it happen, but didn't realize it was dad. A long string of events came afterwards - - - but that isn't what I am writing about.

I am so amazed at the way the people have been there for my mom and dad. Jon and Brantley, Jen and Andy, Ronnie and I were all as fast as possible doling out kids and heading to the hospital that night - and we were actually not the first ones to get there to be with mom.... by the time we came out of the little consult room - around 50 people from the church had driven the 40ish miles to come support mom... and dad.

The moment of the evening was when one of the men wanted to have people to pray - and there, in the ER waiting room - - having many other people around us - they all stood, held hands, and prayed for my dad's healing. Pretty crazy. Pretty overwhelming. Absolutely amazing.

Watching people pray, having them help with kids, seeing the food being organized, knowing people are doing all they can to help - just absolutely amazing.

It is hard to comprehend the callousness of the driver of the truck - the basic lack of respect for humanity is hard to imagine. But in the grand scheme of things - this one heartless jerk's actions of hitting my dad and then leaving him on the roadside to die has been so overshadowed by the love and care of those that love my parents.

He is home healing now. There is a long physical and emotional recovery coming up - but we are all so thankful that he is going to be ok - - and is recovering as well as possible.

So, there ya go - the last 7 days. A rollercoaster of large proportion. Yeah, I'm doing too much - - but the little princess is still kicking regularly... I feel great... her room is NO WHERE NEAR READY! but God is good and we are moving on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

quick glance back - and keep one foot in front of the other.

Well - I could/should go back to review the monthly adventures of 2011.... but I think I am just going to hit some highlights and move on.

Early in the year I had a blast running and racing - I ran three races in 2011 and got three trophies. Pretty cool stuff. Also had fun running with a good friend during the week - it provided such fun times just figuring out how to set our schedules to manage the kids etc. etc.

In the spring we found out that I was pregnant. This slowed down my running for a few months, but unfortunately in June, we realized that we were having another miscarriage. June has been a tough month for my pregnancies for sure!

In July we had a blast celebrating baby J's first bday party. He had a party in Alabama and also in Virginia - with good friends and family around us. He learned to walk just a few days later and is now learning to communicate with his word count being around 40 active understandable words! and a lot of sentences that we don't understand AT ALL! but he is just so cute when he starts jabbering. He walks and talks from the minute he wakes up to the minute he goes to bed right now.

In August, we got yet another positive pregnancy test.... and I will talk more about that shortly. All seems to be going well still with the little princess.

In November, R took a job in Alabama.... soo, the week before Christmas we loaded up the truck (thanks to good friends in VA) and moved our stuff down south. We unloaded into a storage building and are temporarily living with my family.

So.... those are the highlights.
Now, for what we believe is coming in the next few months!

We are looking at houses. We have already gone looking with the realtor in the last week and met with the lender as well. We are trying hard to buy our first house!! WOW.... growing up is kinda crazy. We have a few options and hope to be making offers soon... overwhelmed doesn't being to describe it.

We also are trying to prepare for the arrival of the little princess. At this point with J's pregnancy I was already moving towards being prepared.... furniture, registering, etc. etc. This time I haven't even started!!! If it weren't for a good friend in VA giving me a box of girl clothes back in July, I don't know if I would even have clothes for her yet....

A stranger asked me fore the first time the other night when I was due (I was checking out with two maternity shirts and a baby sleeper.... guess she felt safe asking the question)... then she asked if I already knew if it was a boy or girl... and then asked if I had my nursery ready.. Umm no. I don't even have a house in which I can put a nursery yet!! :)

R starts his new job next week. I am so excited for him to get to live his dream. I can see the excitement building in him daily. The only other times I have seen him have this kinda of anticipation was in the weeks leading to our wedding.... and in the days prior to J's birth. It is so reassuring to see him so excited about this endeavor.

So - 2011 was a roller coaster - the good was great.... the bad was really tough - I have expectation that 2012 will probably be a roller coaster as well - just in different areas. Here we go.