Tolerance

•October 8, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Please bear with me as I deviate from my typical blog content and style.  The subject of tolerance has weighed heavily on my mind recently and I felt compelled to share my thoughts and feelings here on my blog.

Let me begin by defining the word “tolerance“.

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.
3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

We hear an awful lot about tolerance in today’s society.  We also hear a lot about zero-tolerance, most especially in the workplace and in schools.  But what about in our personal lives?

As the definition explains, to be tolerant suggests that we are “fair, objective, and permissive toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc. differ from our own”.  That certainly SEEMS possible.  There are many groups and people with whom I disagree but I choose to stand by their side and hold them up as children of God rather than someone who needs to be “saved” or “indoctrinated” or even just “condemned”.  But many of these people with whom I disagree do not directly hurt or affect me.  Sure…I want Carmen raised in a household that names Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, but would it hurt for her to learn about Mohammed and his teachings from a friend who practices the Muslim faith?  So, tolerance is a good thing, right?

Well, I have 2 problems with tolerance.

1) To me, despite the definition, I view tolerance as something negative, especially when it comes to race.  To tolerate someone suggests they did something wrong or disagreeable to your own beliefs.  To be “tolerant of African Americans” is to be “fair, objective, and permissive” about who they ARE…not about what they DO!  To be “tolerant of homosexuals” is to be “fair, objective, and permissive” about who they ARE…not about what they DO!  Now, to say that you are tolerant of homosexual BEHAVIOR makes sense, but it is the BEHAVIOR to which you show tolerance, not the PERSON!  PEOPLE should not just be tolerated.  PEOPLE should be embraced, nurtured, loved, and accepted regardless of who they are, what they believe, their color, race, or nationality!

2) Sometimes tolerance, no matter how hard we try, is just NOT possible.  Sometimes a policy of “zero tolerance”, as practiced in many workplaces and schools, is necessary especially in our private lives.  BH and I chose to become a multi-racial family through adoption.  As a result we cannot tolerate racism in any part of our lives.  Does that mean racism was OK before we became a multi-racial family?!  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  But before adopting a child of another race we were able to take more liberty in accepting racial remarks while trying to educate the people around us who chose to include us in their racism.  After welcoming our daughter into our family we no longer have the liberty or the time or the energy to EDUCATE!  Our daughter is our priority and doing all within our power to raise her in an anti-racist environment sometimes means adopting a policy of “zero tolerance”.  Zero tolerance for racism, and yes…zero tolerance for the PEOPLE who CHOOSE to practice racism (or any other stereotypical negative “-ism”, such as classism, chauvinism, eurocentrism, etc.).  Some people might find this hypocritical considering our past tolerance.  Others might find this to be unaccepting and disrespectful of personal beliefs.  However this is our family we are talking about.  Yes…it might be unaccepting.  And yes…it might be disrespectful.  But we cross the line between tolerance and zero tolerance when our own family is at risk of serious damage and hurt as a result of another person’s beliefs, whether personally directed toward our family or not.

So, yeah.  Tolerance is a tough thing.  I truly believe we are all called to be tolerant of each other’s beliefs and behaviors.  But when those beliefs and behaviors become detrimental to one’s own personal well-being or that of their family it becomes imperative that each family member recognizes those beliefs and behaviors for what they are and agrees that they will NEVER be tolerated in, around, or among their family.  We have a GREAT responsibility to protect those we love.  Unfortunately sometimes that even means intolerance of those things and those people who hurt us, no matter how hard it might be.

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Catching Up!!!

•September 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I know it’s been awhile since I last posted, but I thought I would take this opportunity to share just a few milestones from these past few months.  And just so you know, I think I’ll be turning this blog more into a journal about Carmen’s daily adventures, accomplishments, tantrums, and just life with a Toddler in general!  As we all know, parenting a Toddler can bring MUCH joy, require EXTREME patience, and can certainly help in growing one’s faith!!!

So, where have I been?  Well…in 3 words…PARENTING A TODDLER!!!!

Life has been both a whirlwind AND a complete joy these past few months!

~Carmen took her own sweet time in walking independently.  From day 1 she took steps here and there (mostly when she thought we weren’t looking) but never really showed enough confidence to actually WALK!  It was always my theory that some children are just perfectionists, and will never start doing something until they believe they reached mastery of that particular skill.  I believe this is true with Carmen, who no sooner did she begin walking, actually started RUNNING!!!  And within just days of that she pretty well perfected climbing up AND down the stairs.  We are the kind of parents who decided pretty quickly, with all the stairs we have in our house, that rather than be ever-fearful of her plummeting to the bottom of each and every staircase, we would prefer to just teach her how to go up and down safely.  Let me say that this greatly helped in eliminating our concern of the stairs, and resulted in not needing baby gates to maneuver past and trip over.

~With every passing day Carmen’s vocabulary grows by leaps and bounds.  Of course, most is only recognizable to the attuned ears of her Mommy and Daddy, but nonetheless, she clearly tries to repeat actual words and phrases.  She says “Mama”, “Dada”, “wa (i) da?” (what (is) that?), “ow” (thanks Mom-Mom), “doh” (go; she will complete the phrase “ready, set, ‘dohhhhh'”), “eh doh” (let’s go), “Mama da?” (Mama, what’s that?), “ooooooooo” (moo), “eh heh” (neigh), “aaahhhhh” (baa), “zzzzzzzz” (buzz), “eh ba” (thank you/I love you/Amen; you know which one depending on what’s happening – i.e. when getting a kiss she says “eh ba” for I love you because that’s what WE always say when we kiss her, after our mealtime prayer she says “eh ba” for Amen, and when handing her something she wants she says “eh ba” for thank you, to which we always say “you’re welcome”).  No matter what, she almost ALWAYS tries to repeat what we say.  She will watch our mouths and try to form the words in the same way.  She also recently showed an interest in singing frequently joining in with her own tune and words whenever one of us bursts into song (which happens quite often in this household)!  VERY cute!!!!!

~Carmen has become QUITE the dancer!!!  When she first came home she often would start swaying side-to-side regardless of whether she heard music or not (to which I would start singing “I got the music in me…I got the music in me…I GOT the MUSIC in meeeeee”).  Just recently she started adding new moves to her repertoire!  These include bopping her head or her upper body front-to-back, bending at the waist in a psudo-twist style, or most recently, bending to one side and spinning in a circle!!!  Let me just say, I nearly busted a gut when I saw THAT move!  I’ve gotta tell ya…the girl has rhythm!!!!  Oh…she just started CLAPPING to music too…and not just that gentle golf clap, but full-fledged, swinging her arms back and bringing her hands together in as loud of a clap as she can produce!!!

~Carmen now sleeps in her own bed and puts herself to sleep each and every night!  Our bedtime routine consists of a bottle (Mommy isn’t ready to eliminate that bonding opportunity just yet), potty time (yes…she consistently performs BOTH bits of business in the potty each night), tooth brushing (to the tunes of either “You Brush Your Teeth” or “ABC” depending on who is helping), diaper and jammies, and finally a rip-roaring 10 minutes of TICKLE TIME!!!!  Yup…you read that right!  Nothing like getting your baby ready for bed with a good TICKLE!!!  You see, we found that when we put her right to bed after jammies and a short “rub down” she was still a bit antsy in her crib and would take anywhere from 1/2 – 1 hour before falling asleep.  We learned that if we actually helped her exert some of that energy before laying down she fell asleep faster!  So, tickle time became an official part of our bedtime routine, as crazy as that might sound!  She still sleeps a solid 11 hours/night regardless of the time she falls asleep.  I’ve actually found myself WAKING her at 10:30 a.m. before our entire day gets away from us (we DO believe she wakes up sometime during the night and will play for a bit before falling back to sleep, thus causing her to sleep later in the morning)!!!

~As evidenced by our last trip to the Dr., Carmen STILL loves to eat (she weighed 28 1/2 lbs and was 32 7/8″ tall – a weight gain of 4 lbs and growth of 2 inches since our last visit 4 months ago)!!!  We have yet to find much that she doesn’t like.  Even her initial disdain for cauliflower has turned into at least a tolerance, if not an actual liking!  I will admit that I’m rather strict when it comes to trying new foods!  I am a firm believer in the “it takes 16 tries before one determines a true like or dislike of a flavor”.  I do not tolerate dislike due to texture, so if Carmen spits something out before she clearly has enough time to TASTE it, I will require that she immediately try the food again!  We’ve reached the point where she rarely if ever spits anything out.  She might clearly dislike it, showing her distaste through rather animated facial expressions, but will finish chewing and swallowing.  At that point I don’t require her to eat more but I’m certainly not about to NEVER feed her that food again!  Considering some of her reactions to first tastes, if I never required her to try things again she still wouldn’t be eating Kix, Life, cauliflower, or mashed potatoes!!!  Wouldn’t that be a shame?!

~Carmen has become fairly outgoing, especially in places where she is comfortable and familiar.  We see this most especially at Church.  This past Sunday she actually spent the last 1/2 of the service in the nursery where she made her FIRST craft (awwwww…brought tears to Mommy’s eyes!  Thanks K & W!!!)!  At our Board meeting on Tuesday, she again went to the nursery with K (thanks K…YOU ROCK!!!).  In the past she showed a slight apprehension around men, but has since become more comfortable around them.  It pleased me to watch as she handed her favorite book to Mr. W and stood next to him with her hand on his knee as he read to her.  She actually talked out loud in everyone’s presence, and voluntarily sat on the Pastor’s lap!  Needless to say, Church is quickly becoming her home-away-from-home!  She comfortably naps there on Sunday afternoons and on Fridays!  She smiles, laughs, waves bye-bye, and blows kisses to anyone who “asks”!  She really has become quite the Church’s social butterfly, bringing a smile to the face of all who greet her!

~With all the pages and pages of good we certainly have our share of bad!  Life with a Toddler just would NOT be normal without a few MAJOR tantrums!!!  I once had someone question whether listening to a satirical children’s song about throwing tantrums would encourage her child to actually BEGIN throwing tantrums!  I nearly laughed thinking that a young child doesn’t need to listen to a song to learn how to throw a tantrum!  At 17 months old, Carmen has yet to hear this song, yet throws her tantrums with the best of them!  Just this past week she managed to throw 4 tantrums in a matter of 2 hours!!!  One actually involved the stereotypical laying on the floor, kicking her feet, and shoving things out of her way so she had more room to flail her body!  After 20 minutes of kicking and screaming she finally brought her sweaty little body to me for a breather and a hug!  It’s heartbreaking for a Mama to listen to her baby scream, but at the same time she is learning self-control and appropriate behavior.  By sitting with her so she knows I won’t leave her, but also ignoring the actual behavior she is learning that I’ll always be there for her but that I will not reinforce her inappropriate behavior with attention!  We’ve only tried this tactic for a couple days (and she has since caught her first cold so Mommy is a little more forgiving of negative behavior) so we have yet to learn if this technique will be effective.  All I can say is we know consistency is key, and ALL negative behaviors need twice as long to correct as they took to create!  I figure it took 17 months for her to learn to tantrum…it will take 34 months to correct (putting her at about 4 1/2 years old before she learns appropriate behavior to express frustration…is that a realistic goal?!).

I stood the other night at the side of my baby’s bed and just watched her as she slept.  I found myself weeping as I thought about the many blessings in my life!  I cannot imagine how God saw fit to place this precious child in my life, but I thank Him and praise Him every day for making my dream a reality!  Is Carmen lucky, fortunate, blessed to be a part of our family?  Absolutely NOT!  It is we who are lucky, fortunate, blessed that this dear, sweet baby should find joy and happiness in calling out for Mama and Dada and it being US who answer!!!

What a Difference a Day Makes!!!

•May 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Oh…and some much-needed rest:)!

After spending a week transitioning Carmen to 1 nap/day, this week BH and I started transitioning her to the pack n’ play for bedtime. She was using it already for naptime but none of us seemed ready to move her out of the bed overnight. At the start of this week that all changed.

After I wrote the post about how much she sleeps and how “agreeable” she always seems to be, all heck broke loose!!! For whatever reason Carmen absolutely REFUSED to sleep through the move from the rocking chair to the bed! Where once I would give her the bottle, rock her to sleep, and then carry her, completely passed out, to bed, all of a sudden I couldn’t manage to transport her from my lap to the mattress without her waking up and thinking it was playtime! Her eyes would pop open, her head would pop up, and she would grace both BH and me with the widest smile EVER!!! Admittedly, it was SOOO cute and charming, but, in reality, when it’s already 9:30 p.m. and you have now tried to make the move 3 times, it becomes slightly exasperating!!!!

So two decisions were made…1) We would start bedtime just a little earlier thinking perhaps she was getting OVERTIRED (unfortunately her 1 nap/day threw her off her norm for the number of hours she was napping as well as the amount of time between end of nap and start of bedtime) and 2) Rather than rocking her to sleep I would hold her for the bottle and then lay her, still awake, in the pack n’ play for her to put herself to sleep! Out of several different options with decision #2, we first thought that when we were ready to go to sleep we would move Carmen FROM the pack n’ play INTO our bed, so that we would only be changing 1 aspect of bedtime at once. However, after putting her in the pack n’ play we considered the advice of Sie and asked ourselves, “Why would we disturb her sleep just to bring her to bed with us?” So, ultimately we decided we would allow her to sleep in the pack n’ play as long as she didn’t show any signs of distress, at which point we would then bring her to bed with us!

So, Tuesday – Night 1 – We started bedtime at 7:45 p.m., placed Carmen in the pack n’ play at 8:04 p.m. and laid in our bed as we waited for her to go to sleep. I got up a couple times to lay her back down and remind her that it was bedtime, and after 1 hour she finally fell asleep, on her own, without so much as a whimper! She stirred several times through the night, requiring me to get up, pat her back, and let her know we were still there, until finally, at 3:15 a.m., she indicated that she really needed to be in bed with us. I then waited for her to settle down before quietly bringing her to bed. She slept the rest of the morning, peacefully, in our bed, not waking until 8:45 a.m.!

Wednesday – Night 2 – We started bedtime at 7:30 p.m., placed Carmen in the pack n’ play at 7:52 p.m. and laid in our bed as we waited for her to go to sleep (sound familiar?…nothing like creating a routine:)! ). This time we moved the pack n’ play right next to the bed so we made the decision to allow her to stand and move around as she wanted, since she showed the night before that when she was ready she would lay down and go to sleep. Once again, within an hour, she put herself to sleep! Unfortunately the sleeping through the night with little fuss did not repeat itself and I found it necessary to bring her to bed, WHILE crying, at 11:00 p.m. I really thought through the implications of that decision and both BH and I decided that for the next night we would try to help her cry through it for as long as possible before actually bringing her to bed. I was mostly concerned with reinforcing a fear or unhappiness with the pack n’ play moreso than “giving in to her demands”.

Thursday – Night 3 – We started bedtime at 8:30 p.m. (because oddly enough Carmen napped for 3 1/2 hours yesterday…yeah, remember my inconsolable, unhappy child post? Uh huh…apparently she really WAS tired!), placed Carmen in the pack n’ play at 8:54 p.m. and laid in our bed as we waited for her to go to sleep. By 9:45 p.m. her little body finally gave out regardless of the fact that she was actually still SITTING against the side of the pack n’ play!!! We mentally prepared ourselves for any necessary bouts of calming and patting in the pack n’ play before watching Survivor and turning out the lights for as much of our own sleep as possible. Despite that mental prep, an interesting thing happened on the way to this morning…OUR BABY SLEPT!!! She slept until 3:00 a.m. at which point she stood up mildly protesting her location. I quickly but gently laid her back down, covered her with a blanket, and patted her back. After several minutes I stopped patting and just kept the weight of my hand on her back. After several more minutes I removed my numb hand, rolled over and waited. And waited…and waited…and fell asleep…and waited…and fell asleep…and waited! I waited and slept and waited again until 8:00 a.m. this morning!!!! At that point Carmen finally stirred, popped her head up, saw me, smiled, laughed, and stood up as fast as her legs could move her!!!

And the rest is history!!!! She is now just waking from what appears to be another decent nap following a morning of smiles and laughter and just plain comfort and happiness!!!! While I fear speaking too soon, and should probably find some real wood to knock on, it seems as if we might have actually found our groove! I know…I know…it was just one night! And I am already mentally preparing myself for a night more like Wednesday’s. However, ever the eternal optimist that I am, I have my hope that we finally figured out what Carmen needs in order to obtain a GOOD and HEALTHY night’s sleep! We might miss her warm little body between us, but our decisions must always come down to what is best for her, and right now, I must admit that sleeping independently in her own space might very well be what is best for HER!!!

One of Those Days…..

•May 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

Have you ever had one of those days that you just know you should have stayed in bed?! Well, yesterday was just one of those days….

1) I boiled over some chicken broth and water in preparation to cook some noodles for lunch! In itself that wouldn’t be a horrible thing, but at the same time I was trying to wash dishes AND scoop cookie dough!!! I really didn’t have time to clean up a mess!!!

2) And because I admittedly did not have time to clean up a SMALL mess…I went to put a pan of cookies in the oven and dropped the pan upside-down on the open oven door!!! NOW I HAD A BIG MESS!!!! I had to quickly scrape up the dough before it melted everywhere and baked-on! While cleaning up that mess I had to do all within my power to keep a hungry and tired (thus crying and needing Mommy’s attention) baby from using the open oven door to pull herself up!!!

3) I didn’t really get anything accomplished throughout the day except baking cookies, cleaning up the kitchen, and spending a nice, relaxing afternoon visiting with my BFF, Sie!!! Of course, that seems like a lot and it was all valuable for ME, but if you saw CJ’s and OUR pile of clothes that all need to be folded and put away, and if you saw the stack of bottles that needed washed, and if you knew that I wanted to make HOMEMADE egg noodles but ended up asking BH to stop and buy them at the store instead, and if you saw all the dust bunnies and fur balls accumulating on the floors, and if you saw the ream of cloth waiting to be made into curtains for the playroom, and if you saw Carmen’s scrapbook sitting with only 10 pages completed, and if you saw Carmen’s Adoption Book with only 2 or 3 pages filled-in, and if you saw all the gifts we’ve received in the past few weeks without a single “Thank You” note sent in return then you would understand why I say I didn’t really get anything accomplished!!! Of course that’s all stuff that would take more than a day, so why bother including it on a post titled “One of Those Days”? Because it’s only on “one of those days” that you even bother thinking about and fretting over the many things that need to be done that you just haven’t gotten to yet!!!

And while yesterday was one of those days in which I should have stayed in bed…today was the day Carmen should have stayed in bed!!!! She decided that she would exercise her lungs today through fits of screaming and crying for what seemed to be absolutely no good reason!!! If I so much as looked at her sideways it set her off!!! In fact, both she AND I were quite content to let her do her own thing, for as soon as Mommy got involved all bliss was ended and immediately followed by the kind of ear-piercing shriek that would wake the dead!!!!

I looked at her funny…she screamed!!!

Penny walked away from her…she screamed!!!

I held her…she screamed!!!

I walked away from her…she screamed!!!

I bounced her around and swung her in the air (which she LOVES)…she screamed!!!

I walked toward her…she screamed!!!

I patted her bottom and her back as she screamed so as to make that funny “uh-uh-uh” noise…she screamed LOUDER!!!

I fed her lunch…she wanted what I had, which was the same thing she had so when she realized it…she screamed!!!

I laughed…she cried!!!

I cried…she laughed!!!

I changed her diaper…she bellowed and complained (but did NOT scream)!!!

I cleaned out her nose that was full to overflowing with s-n-o-t because of all the screaming and crying she had done all morning…she screamed (OK…this isn’t unusual as she HATES when I clean out her nose. Can you blame her?)!!!

I fed her a bottle and put her to bed with her blankie…SHE SLEPT (and continues to do so now 2 1/2 hours later…guess the baby was tired, poor thing:( )!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes…these past two days, for both of us, have each been “One of Those Days”……………….

The Hard Thing About Parenting…

•April 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’ll get to that……

But, so far, parenting has been a complete JOY!!! And honestly, not nearly as difficult or surprising or tiring as expected (and warned). I know, I know…she’s only been home 6 weeks! What do I really know about it, right?! Well, this is what I DO know…

Carmen sleeps from 8:30 p.m. to about 7:30 a.m. consistently. There might be a couple bumps in that schedule as she has a restless night here and there, but all in all she averages a straight 11-hour/night sleep schedule. BH and I tend to be slow risers so somewhat dreaded the thought of bouncing out of bed immediately upon waking!!! Much to our surprise, Carmen is very much like us in her slow start. She will often lay in bed playing quietly either with herself or with toys, for nearly 1/2 hour – 45 minutes. Sure, she babbles quietly, and will sometimes pat us to see if we too are awake, but all-in-all she allows us our extra 15 – 30 minutes of “snoozing”.

Carmen is a rather independent baby. When in a good mood more often than not she is quite happy crawling to another part of the house and finding things with which to entertain herself. If she’s not in the mood to be alone, she will find things to do in whatever room we are in. People have asked how we manage to cook dinner or, even, how we prepared for the birthday party. It’s simple…give Carmen a bowl and a spoon, or a container of ice, and she is occupied plenty long enough for us to do what we need to in the kitchen.

Carmen also has a good sense of right and wrong. She already knows which cabinets she is allowed to open for “her toys” and she knows not to go near the dog’s food and water. From day one I have tended to use the word “stop” with a hand motion when she was getting into something she shouldn’t. She has now adopted Mommy’s method, and when approaching something she knows she shouldn’t touch, she turns around, looks at us, puts her hand in the air, and says “-op”, as if to say “Yeah, yeah…I KNOW! You don’t need to say anything!”

Carmen also seems to transition fairly well from busy out-and-about days to quiet days on the homefront. Admittedly, we don’t go out too much, but over the past couple weeks we went a stretch of running here and there almost daily. Regardless, she stuck to her nap schedule and was always ready for bed at the usual time. We even threw her off a little while Grandpa was here with 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. bedtimes. Even then, she still slept her 11 hours, not waking until closer to 8:30 or 9:00 the next morning.

Carmen loves to eat and will try ANYTHING you put in front of her. So far the most unusual things we have given her have been salmon, avacado, hummus, mashed cauliflower, and rhubarb, all of which she seemed to at least tolerate. She LOVES vegetables, leaning heavily toward tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. The things she’s not extremely keen on right now are bread products of just about any sort, chunky mashed potatoes, and (oddly enough) couscous (even though she can’t seem to get ENOUGH noodles:) )!

Carmen is pretty adventurous and tough. She will crawl just about anywhere new or different and should she fall and bump her head more often than not she just pops right back up and carries on with what she was doing. If she DOES bump hard enough to elicit a cry, it usually just takes a quick hug and rub and then setting her back on her way. She responds very well to distraction so if we catch a tumble immediately when it happens we can usually prevent the onset of a cry by just pointing something out or standing her up and brushing her off.

So, with all that I’m sure you are curious why I titled my post “The Hard Thing About Parenting…”. Well, all that stuff I wrote about above…had those things not gone exactly as written, had they been a little harder than they seem to be at this point…I would have been prepared. I probably still would have shared how “easy” parenting is compared to my expectations. That’s because those were the things I thought about before Carmen came home. How will she sleep? How will she eat? What will she like? Will she cry a lot? Will I be able to soothe her when she does? Etc., etc., etc. What I wasn’t prepared for was the idea of grieving the loss of my Mom all over again.

I sat the other night, rocking Carmen and holding her through an unusually difficult bedtime, when I began thinking about all the things I wished I could share with Mommy. I began thinking about how much she would have loved Carmen and how excited she would have been at the idea of Carmen joining our family. I thought of how much fun she would have had buying clothes and toys for Carmen. And about how she very well might have joined us on our trip to bring Carmen home. If not, she would have been at our house within a week of us arriving home and would probably still be here! She would have sent little packages and cards and notes in the mail for her first Grandbaby. She would have been such an amazing Grandma. And I miss that so much. I miss seeing her in that role. And it makes BH and I stop and question why we didn’t make this decision years ago!!! Would it have helped? Or would it just be harder having to experience the pain of losing her while also raising our daughter? I will never be able to answer that question, I know. But right now, while things are so new and exciting, I can say that it’s hard! REALLY hard! Every single day, when Carmen does something silly or funny, I feel a tug at my heart as I long to pick up the phone and call her to tell her about it.  Or when I just need to call and ask her for advice when something just seems too hard for me to do myself.

I think it’s so hard right now because just when I thought I finally reached a point of not looking back, and accepting that Mommy is no longer here, I brought my baby home. And in so doing I dredged up all those thoughts of what it would be like for Mommy to still be with us. It’s so hard…excruciatingly hard…words can hardly do justice to the ache in my heart.

Despite all that pain, I must say, Carmen will NEVER lack in the Grandma department. There are so many people who have stepped up to play that role in her life. And for that BH and I are truly thankful. However, despite the joy all these lovely people bring, it’s also become a reality to me that they will NEVER be able to take the place of the Grandma who is no longer with us. Unfortunately it will never be the same. And once again, that brings me such sadness.

I know with time it might become easier. It’s just that I was so unprepared for this part of parenting! I had no idea that the hardest thing would be feeling and grieving the loss of Mommy all over again……. UGH!!! If I were writing this on paper, the words would be smudged from my tears…………………..

A Weekend of Firsts

•April 26, 2008 • 1 Comment

Well, this weekend came and went as we celebrated several FIRSTS throughout its duration!!!

1) Carmen’s 1st Birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEET BABY!!! YOU HAVE ALREADY BROUGHT MOMMY AND DADDY MORE JOY THAN THEY EVER IMAGINED POSSIBLE!!!!!)!!!

2) The 1st time we celebrated OUR child’s birthday in our home!!!

3) The 1st time “Grandpa” got to meet his 1st grandchild in person!

4) The 1st time all our family was together in our house since Carmen came home (visitors were limited to 1 family/visit/day until this past Sunday).

5) Our 1st visit to Cabela’s!

6) Our 1st visit to the local Farmer’s Market where Carmen had her 1st taste of Mommy’s favorite “Fish and Chips”!

7) Carmen’s 1st bottles consisting of SOME (not ALL) whole milk rather than formula (I’m pretty sure I just heard Daddy’s wallet breathe a sigh of relief)!

8) Carmen’s 1st time being left by BOTH Mommy and Daddy (mind you, it was for only 10 minutes and it was with someone from church as well as Aunt Sie, who Carmen knows very well and LOVES!!!).

9) The hanging of Carmen’s 1st swing, by both Daddy and Grandpa! She wasn’t too thrilled with her 2nd ride in a swing, but I’m sure that with time she will grow to LOVE it! With the way she enjoys rough-housing and being swung in our arms I’m sure it won’t be long…she just needs to learn to trust the swing the way she trusts us!

10) Carmen’s 1st time hanging out in the yard and crawling around in the grass! Luckily Grandpa had some energy to burn so he cleaned up all the sticks and branches that fell out of the trees over the winter so that Daddy could mow the lawn the next day!

It was a monumental weekend…one we will NEVER forget! We waited what seemed like an eternity to watch as a Sacristan carried our child down the aisle of our church to present her for Baptism. Not only was Grandpa present for the service, but he performed the Baptism alongside our Pastor and Student Pastor. From what we understand, there was barely a dry eye in the house. I’m pretty sure God might have also shed a couple tears of joy! While I sometimes fear pointing out all the THINGS we received since starting this amazing journey will shed a moderately materialistic light on our family, I cannot mention Carmen’s baptism without also sharing how humbled we felt at the many gifts and cards Carmen received from members of our church. We know that there are MANY ways to show someone that you love and cherish them, with money and gifts at the bottom of the list. However, when one expects NOTHING and receives far more than that, it bears mentioning. With that said, many thank yous and expressions of love and gratitude go out to ALL our friends and family as even NOW they continue supporting us in this journey!!!

We also waited a long time to celebrate our child’s first birthday in our home! Trust me when I say it was better than we ever thought possible! Carmen enjoyed the company, the food, her gifts. She dove right into her cupcake, to which I was somewhat chided for the lack of icky, sticky, ooey-gooey messiness (the icing was merely a piece of chocolate melted on top and then spread, which meant upon cooling it basically hardened back into a chocolate bar). We made up for that by presenting her with her very own slice of ice cream cake, plopped right down, directly on the tray of her “eat seat”. It didn’t take long for the ice cream cake to end up all over her hands, on her face, and most importantly…IN HER HAIR!!! Have I ever mentioned that “I don’t do sticky!!!!” UGH!!!!!!! But, being the good Mommy I am I let her make as much of a mess as she wanted (and then left the icky, sticky, ooey-gooey “eat seat” tray for Grandpa and Aunt Sie!!!)!

Needless to say, we had a wonderful and eventful weekend! And as promised (and without further ado) I wish to share some of my favorite pictures with my dedicated readers (not all are from this past weekend, but included are some of my favorites since Carmen came home)!!!

This is one of the first smiles we got out of Carmen in the hotel!

Mmmm...I sure do love pasta!!!

You\'re not gonna take my hairbrush and purple thingy, are ya?!

Life\'s a Barrel of Monkeys...

You mean this is ALL mine?!  WAHOOOO!!!!!!

Hmmm...do I shove the whole thing in my mouth or continue being dainty?

I love the feel of a warm breeze and sunshine on my cheeks!!!

Why is it that Mommy has to pose me after EVERY outfit?!

First new hairstyle...Just call me \

I just LOVE looking outside!!!  Did I hear you say we\'re going out now?!

)!

You mean you want me to crawl around in this stuff?!  That means I have to put my hands in it!!!

Are you really taking a picture of me with this bow on my head?!

Awwwwweeee...Aye aye, Strawberry Shortcake

YUP - I LOVE GRANDPA!!!!!!

What\'s everyone looking at!  Mommy stuck a bow on my head last night!  That\'s where they belong, right?!  RIGHT?!

Soooo tired...but...can\'t.....stop......eating................

Are you looking at me?!  You got it dude...turning 1 is sooooooo cool!!!

Looking forward to my next opportunity to show off pictures of my beautiful baby!!! Until then, I hope this holds you over!!!

God Bless you all!!! Love ya!!!!!!!!

The Moment I Had Been Waiting For

•April 4, 2008 • 3 Comments

Adoptive parents sometimes refer to a particular “moment” – that point in time when something just clicks and you finally feel that this child you waited so long to welcome into your home is finally YOUR child.  I had been feeling a little sad that I had yet to experience this so-called “moment”.  Of course not that I was pushing for it or looking for it.  I knew that it would just HAPPEN and when it did I would recognize it for what it was.

Well, let me just say…the moment I had been waiting for finally happened.  It happened last night…exactly  3 weeks after my daughter was placed in my arms FOREVER and let me just say, it was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life!!!

I was doing our nightly bedtime ritual (BH does the diaper changing and puts on the PJ’s while I ready the bedroom. I then give Carmen a bottle and rock her until she falls asleep, and then gently place her into our bed for the night). Up until last night I had still felt a little bit like our bedtime routine was a bit of a “chore”…just something that needed to be done but never actually felt that there was any real ATTACHMENT going on. We had had a few rough bedtimes in our first days home so it never really took on the meaning I hoped it would, but rather was a bit sad and difficult for me. I don’t think that I had yet allowed myself to REALLY let go and say “This is it. We’re done and OUR daughter is home, FOREVER!!!” I became too focused on how every little cry must be a sign of grieving, which in turn was difficult for me to deal with. I also allowed the nagging feeling that this isn’t really REAL haunt me, making it difficult to allow myself to feel too close to Carmen for fear that this dream would be taken away somehow.

So, all that to say…my moment finally occurred last night during the time that I most feel like I’m just doing an “attachment chore”. Carmen finished sucking down her bottle (which she can do in about 3 1/2 minutes – FLAT). Usually she just looks around the room, occasionally will make eye contact with me, and then continues looking around the room and clapping her hands until she just cannot keep her eyes open any longer. Well, last night, about 5 minutes after her bottle her eyes locked with mine and she didn’t look away. We stared into each other’s eyes for about 45 seconds, before she finally gave me the cutest, sweetest grin I’ve ever seen in my life! It was as if to say “Hi Mommy. Things are all good!” Immediately tears began streaming down my face. She just continued looking at me and reaching up to touch my face and my tears. I just couldn’t stop crying!

You know, when our SW asked us at our first post-placement visit if we felt like she was our daughter of course our answers were an emphatic YES!!! She has felt like our daughter since the first moment we laid eyes on her in May 2007. BUT, last night I was finally able to look at her and not just say “Yes, this is my daughter,” but I was able to add “Yes, I am your Mommy!”