I wonder…

I wonder if…as we get closer to E’s turning one year old…

E’s birthmom thinks about him.

she questions her decision.

she wants to know who he is, what he’s doing, how he’s growing, etc.

she will respond positively if he decides to try to connect with her.

she has asked for the letters and pictures we’ve written to her about him.

she will ever want the adoption to be more open than it is, which isn’t very open really.

she looks like him.

her features are prominent in him.

her personality is shown in his.

her family will respond positively to his desire to connect with them.

2015’s Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Last year, I wrote a post about my thoughts on Mother’s Day.  You can find it here.  This year was quite a bit different as it was my first Mother’s Day as a mother to E.  Yet, I was struck by the lack of acknowledgement of the day by the church we attended that Sunday.  There was a video played during the service but that was really it.  I was surprised, as most churches I have ever been a part of have done something like having the mothers stand, giving flowers to the mothers/ladies, or something along those lines.  Prior to the issues I described in last year’s post and in other posts on this blog about our struggle to have children, I didn’t really think about how Mother’s Day could be quite a difficult day for many, many women for various reasons.  But now I am quite aware of those issues.  While it is a difficult day for many women (and men, too), I was just struck by the lack of acknowledgement of it in any real sort of way.  By real, I mean an actual person from the congregation or staff member making mention of it in a prayer, part of the sermon, or something like that, rather than playing a stock video and letting it be at that.

The church (general Christian church) could and should be the greatest support on days such as Mother’s Day for all the people that struggle with it.  So, rather than ignore it or making no mention of it, shouldn’t the church acknowledge that it is a difficult day for many, a celebration for many, a remembrance for many, etc.?  The simplest way to do this would be simply to pray for these sorts of situations…pray for those that have lost their mother or are estranged from her, pray for those that long to be mothers but are not for whatever reason, pray for those mothers that have lost a child, pray for the men that have lost their mothers/wives, pray for the birthmothers that made an extremely difficult but loving decision, pray for mothers that are separated from their children, pray for adoptive mothers, pray for women that are “like a mother” to those in their lives, etc.  But the church could also offer support to women in various situations such as these, through their women’s ministry, support groups, Bible/study groups, etc.  The church could simply celebrate women (rather than those that are mothers) on this day and talk about what Biblical womanhood means or focus on strong women of faith, do a series on the women of the Bible that starts on Mother’s Day.  I’m sure there are lots more creative ideas as well, but those were just a few that came to my mind.

For our family, this Mother’s Day was my first as a mom and my mom’s first as a grandmother.  We celebrated by going to my parents’ house after we each went to church and my sister and her fiance came over as well.  My husband cooked lunch for us all and we had fun just hanging out and playing with E.  We opened cards/presents and just simply hung out with each other.  A very relaxing first Mother’s Day!

What do you think about how the church handles Mother’s Day?

10 months old! (Well, really 10.5 months…)

So, E turned 10 months old at the beginning of this month! I can’t even believe it. He’s doing really well, continuing to grow, develop his skills, eating more different foods (and probably the healthiest eater in our house!), and the list goes on.

E decided a few weeks ago to start eating real food. We had been offering him different foods since his 9 month check-up and he just wasn’t interested really. Then, something just clicked for him and he’s been eating almost anything we put in front of him. He’s had strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, banana, broccoli, squash, zucchini (not a big fan of this one), green beans (also not a fan), pasta, pancakes, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and tomatoes. We continue to try to introduce new foods to him. He has had chicken a few times and seems to like it, though it has been quite bland with no seasoning. We have not yet tried other meats since he only has 4 teeth!

As far as skills, he has transitioned from the army crawl to a true crawl, up on his knees and hands and he crawls around everywhere FAST! So fast, it’s hard to keep up with him! He loves for us to sit or lay on the floor with him and he will just crawl over us one way and then back the other way…over and over and over and over! He loves it! E is also pulling up on stuff including us! He seems to really want to start walking, but I’m hopeful that he waits a little bit to start that! When E is playing, one of his favorite things to do is take his toys from one place (the floor, container, etc.) and putting them into something, another container, his dirty clothes hamper, toy chest, or anything else.

Recently we took a short vacation to my parents’ lake house in NC. My parents have a boat on the lake and we took E out on the boat one of the days we were there. My parents have life jackets of various sizes for people that are on the boat, but they didn’t have an infant one. They arrived the day before we did so they found an infant life jacket so that we could take him on the boat. Anyway, when we took E out on the boat, we didn’t know how he would react to the sound of the motor and being on the water so we started out slowly at first, not wanting to scare him with the sound of the motor. He really seemed to enjoy being on the boat and water and didn’t fuss once. He sat in the driver’s chair with my dad and “drove” the boat, stood at the front of the boat looking out onto the water, and watched everything! He is really so observant of everything around him, it is quite amazing.

Hopefully I’ll remember to post an update next month, seeing as how the last monthly update was at 7 months.

No Thanks, Starbucks!

Starbucks has recently come up with a new way to get people talking, talking about race. They have kicked off a #RaceTogether campaign that is intended to get people talking about a HUGE issue in our nation, race and along with it, racism. Now, I applaud Starbucks for the recognition of this very important issue in the United States and the desire to get people talking about it. What I take issue with is the idea that I would want to talk to the barista behind the counter about it or some random person I met in line while waiting for my coffee (Ha! those that know me will know this will NEVER happen!!! But you get the point.).

Conversations about race are conversations that need to happen. Absolutely! As a history teacher, these conversations need to happen and continue happening so that we can learn from the past, we can learn from others experiences, we can acknowledge their experiences, we can start to see this issue through another’s eyes, and on and on. Knowing intellectually about the history of this country is very different than hearing about it through the eyes of someone that has had those experiences. It is also important to acknowledge the history of race and racism in this nation (not just towards blacks, but any other minority group as well), and to help move the nation forward by having these types of conversations.

But these are not conversations that I want to have with some random barista or stranger in the line at Starbucks. These are conversations I want to have with people I trust and have an ongoing relationship with. These are conversations I want to have with one of my best friends for 25+ years or with a friend and former teacher, for example, people that I trust, I can be open and honest with and they with me. This is because these can be very intense and emotional conversations and if I am having it with someone that is a stranger, I will not understand their emotion and it will be easier to pass off their experiences. Yet, if I am discussing these issues with someone closer to me, it will be much more difficult to pass it off and we will also know each other well enough to be able to ask questions, be open to the responses, and to know when it is necessary to put the conversation on hold or take a break due to the intensity of the conversation. And this conversation can be picked up again at a later time, something that can’t be done with the barista or random stranger.

Now that we are a transracial family, we are much more acutely aware of these issues than we ever were before, but we can not understand them from a first person perspective. Thus, it is vitally important that we have these conversations with people that can and do so that we can help our son deal with these issues and help him process experiences when he has them. One of the best ways we can help him with this is to have people in his life like him that he can talk to about these issues and that can provide him with first hand knowledge about how they handled similar situations. We must continue to educate ourselves, but we can not simply leave it at intellectual knowledge. We are going to face questions from strangers, friends, and family so having the difficult conversations about race, racism, microaggressions, etc. is extremely important for us. Just not at Starbucks!

Why I watch Hoarders

…to make myself feel better about my house!

No, seriously, I watch the different Hoarders shows mostly so that I can understand what leads to these sorts of issues and make sure I don’t have this issue. Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I can totally understand how one might get herself into situations like those portrayed. While often these people have some sort of trauma in their life that triggers the hoarding behavior, it can also be something as simple as going to the store to fill some time while at home with a little one (you know, getting out of the house?), that could lead to something much bigger like a shopping addiction that fills your house with stuff.

But, watching it also makes me aware of the stuff we have in our house that we don’t actually need or use and the need to purge. Having a little one in the house also made me very aware of this fact. My husband and I have never been ones to hold on to stuff simply for the sake of holding on to stuff and we have often gone through our clothes (usually each season as we put away the clothes for the previous season and take out ones for the upcoming season) to donate to the local thrift shop or charity for the homeless or something. But, we haven’t really done that with the stuff in our house. Last summer, knowing E was coming to our home, it made us start to look around and put stuff in a yard sale pile which grew and grew. We participated in a yard sale near my parents’ home (local church hosts, rent a space, sell your stuff). It was great because the church took care of things like advertising, etc. We just loaded up our crap err…stuff, some tables and such, and set up our stuff in our assigned space. We sold a lot of it and then the stuff we didn’t sell was taken to the local thrift store, so we were able to get it out of our house. We have continued to build a yard sale pile so we can do the same this spring in the community yard sale.

Those that know me well know I love books and have a really hard time getting rid of them. However, we had a bookshelf in E’s room that was full of our books while his books were sitting on top of a blanket chest. So, a few days ago, I took all of our books off of the shelf and put them into some plastic bins, dusted the bookshelf, and put E’s books onto the shelf along with some of his larger toys (to get them out of the middle of the floor). Then, I had to figure out something to do with our books. While Ed was playing with E last night in E’s room, I would grab a bunch of books and ask if he wanted to keep or get rid of each one. I made the decisions about the books that were mine and then we both had input on books that had been given to us (marriage, etc.) or books we had shared (Bible study books, etc.). I then loaded up the books to donate in a box so we can get them out of our house. I’m going to take them to the local library (assuming I can carry the box…ha!). I need to do this same process in our office downstairs, especially since I have all of my school books sitting in crates in there, too.

Another step in the process is going through the hall closet downstairs and the closet in the office to see what we can get rid of/donate/yard sale, etc. And then there’s the basement…but that’s a whole nother obstacle to tackle!

E is 7 months old!

Our son, E, is just over 7 months old now and I can hardly believe it.  He has been with us for just over 6 months now and he has grown so much.  He is now over 17 lbs. and over 27 inches long.  He’s sitting up by himself, working on crawling (army crawl style), and even pulled himself up onto a small, flat plastic bin today!  My mom and I were playing with him in his room with some toys and he was crawling all over the place.  He went over to this flat plastic bin that I had put some Christmas stuff in of his.  He would pull on it and bang on it, etc.  He then grabbed on to the lid and started lifting his head up to see the top of it.  Finally he pulled up and climbed on top of it (my mom was holding the bin still so it didn’t suddenly slide on the floor).  It was crazy and I couldn’t believe it, but I did run to get my phone and take a few pictures of it!  LOL!  (Can’t post them here yet…but we will….soon….).

In addition to all the ways he is growing, we are experiencing things in a whole new way.  It’s so weird to see things through his eyes.  I love to get down on the floor with him to see what he sees and he loves it when I’m at his level and playing with him, etc.  I talk to him all the time about what I’m doing or what we are going to be doing, where we are going, etc.  When we are driving in the car, I talk about what he can see out the window or what we are going to be doing, who we are going to see, etc.  He is so aware of everything around him, loves looking at everything, smiles at everyone he sees, and really likes going places and seeing new things.  As much as I like going to new places, it’s fun to see familiar places in a fresh, new way by describing things to him.  Who knows how much of it he’s actually absorbing, but I’m sure it’s more than we think!  ;-)

Since E has been with us for 6 months, we are able to now apply to the county courts where we live for finalization of the adoption.  This is really just a legal formality, but a necessary step, so that the county, state, and country view us as a legal family.  We have to get some paperwork completed, and then our lawyer can apply to the court for the finalization, then we wait on the court to decide on the date for finalization.  Once that is determined, we show up at the court on that date, and have a few minutes with the judge that declares us a legal family.  :-)

Road Trippin’ with a 6 month old

After our road trip to OH from MD for four days, I decided to write a post about our experiences so that it might help someone else…or at least give you some ideas to tweak to fit your needs. So, here goes…

We left on Christmas Eve morning and returned on the Saturday following Christmas, so a total of four days gone from home. The first thing I did was start a checklist of all the things I thought we would need for E. This included things like diapers, wipes, food, spoons, plastic containers, toys, high chair (for once we arrived), pack-n-play, bottles, bottle brush, sterilizer, etc. Once I had this list created, it was much easier to go through that list while packing to make sure I had what E would need. Some things I was able to take off the list because they weren’t absolute necessities or we could make do without. Then, the day before our trip, I asked my mom to come over and babysit E so that I could concentrate on the packing. This helped out a lot because I knew E was taken care of and I could focus on the task at hand.

I found some ideas on pinterest (just search road trip or travel with a ____ old) for tips and tricks for traveling with a baby. One of the things I found was the idea to use a flat plastic storage bin or container to place items you will need on the day of the road trip but that will not fit in the regular diaper bag. We already had one of these storage bins, so I just started filling it with stuff from my checklist. It had extra diapers, bottles for two feedings (two were already in the diaper bag), baby cereal container, extra pacifiers, spoons, and baby food jars. The diaper bag had the changing pad with some diapers and wipes, an extra wipes, two bottles, formula container (one of those plastic sectioned things that we pre-measured the formula into), a few spoons, oragel, hand sanitizer, etc. Then, we packed an empty diaper box with additional things that we would need but not on the day of the road trip. This included the large formula container, extra diapers, bottle brush, sanitizer, etc. We took our pickup truck and so we packed things in the bed of the truck (we have a bed cover that locks). This box of extras went in the bed of the truck along with the highchair, pack-n-play, E’s bag (more about this below), our suitcase, etc. The flat storage container went in the truck on the floor of the seat where E’s car seat was with the diaper bag on top. In the truck with us was also a bin of soft toys/books. We have the soft storage bins from Target to organize his toys and stuff at home so I took one of those and then selected some of E’s favorite soft toys such as a ball, a soft block, a soft book, a stuffed animal or two, and the like. Then, for the awake times, I sat with E in the back of the truck and we played with his toys and “read” his books. This helped keep him on his normal schedule for the day (more about this later).

So, for his bag of clothes, I put outfits together (onesie, pants, socks) and then placed each outfit in a plastic ziploc bag (push the air out to make packing easier). I also had a few extra outfits in plastic bags as well. In addition to the outfits, we also had his pajamas for each day, bibs, and burp cloths. Once we got to the hotel, I just pulled out all the bags and put them in the drawers with the pajamas, bibs, and burp cloths. This made it easier to just grab a bag in the morning, rather than having to think about which pants go with which onesie, etc.

Regarding schedule, we decided to leave around 6 am, but E normally gets out of bed around 7:30 or so and eats breakfast around 8 am. So, we packed as much as possible in the truck the night before so that the only things left to put in the truck in the morning were last minute things (toiletries, etc.). We got him out of bed at the last possible minute, changed his diaper, but left him in his pajamas. We put him in his carseat and in the truck and pulled out. The car typically puts E to sleep so we figured he would go right back to sleep until breakfast time, which he did. :-) This gave us two hours of driving and then we stopped for breakfast. We decided to stop at a place that would allow us and E to stretch our legs and stuff for awhile. After he and we ate breakfast, I changed his diaper and changed him into his clothes for the day. When we left breakfast and got back on the road, I sat in the back of the truck next to E in his carseat. As this is his normal awake time, we played with some toys, talked, “read” books, sang songs, etc. He normally takes a short (30-45 minute) nap in the morning and he kept right on schedule with that. Once he was asleep, you can move back up to the front of the car (I stayed in the back and read my own book simply because it was easier and we’d be stopping for lunch soon). We stopped for lunch, not at fast food, but at a more sit-down sort of place so that we and E could stretch our legs and have some time out of the truck. This worked well and we had time to change his diaper, etc. before needing to get back in the truck. E takes a 2-2.5 hour nap in the afternoons after lunch so I sat in the front of the truck after lunch, knowing he would fall asleep for his nap. He woke up with about 10 miles left before we arrived at our destination.

I will say that E is a very easy baby and we had an uneventful trip because of this. You know your own baby and the things that will work for him/her or not. This is simply some tips that helped us and might help you in planning a road trip with a baby.