Sunday, March 28, 2010

Preparations warming up

So. . . the preparations to leave for Korea are warming up a bit. The four of us now have our passports in hand. Just a few more things are needed before Brent and I can pursue our work visas. These past two days of my Spring Break, we have begun more seriously to consider our remaining "stuff" (specifically that which is housed in the basement) and have begun to sort: TAKE, SELL, GIVE, STORE. The piles are somewhat equal in their volume at the moment. I'm excited that we'll be able to contribute to a friend's garage sale in May, rather than having our own. Particularly difficult for me is going through the kids' books and deciding what to keep, give, take along, sell. How can you even consider getting rid of Dr. Seuss? You just can't! That is probably why my mother saved our Dr. Seuss collection for some three decades before passing it along to me!

Perhaps the most important "preparation" is that which has to do with friends. It seems we are entirely blessed with so many friends here - through work and church and neighborhood. More and more I hear, "We're going to miss you." "You're a fixture around here. How can you go?" and "We've got to get together before you leave for Korea." This is all true! We are going to miss YOU, TOO! And we HAVE been well-embedded around here (with God's grace). And we simply MUST get together with you - soon!

And so it is that I am beginning to get my priorities straight. I've always known that friends and family - RELATIONSHIP - is the most important thing. But daily life gets in the way, and sitting at home watching TV on a cold evening is so much more inviting than traveling across town to visit with friends. That it UNTIL one realizes that the option of visiting just won't always be there. So now that I find myself willing to drive the extra miles and take the time to see friends, I'm afraid the urgency may be mine alone. Life too often gets in the way of living, doesn't it?

To conclude, I'd like to invite us all to reconsider our priorities and ACT upon that intuition that says, "PEOPLE, NOT THINGS." Make that phone call. Get that calendar out. Make those "play dates." Schedule the babysitter. But do spend quality time IN PERSON with those you love and care about. I shall do the same. Carpe Diem!

PS For those who read this or other posts, please post a comment!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family Ties

There's something about family.

After a 5-day trip covering several hundred miles to see family, I returned today to my family, my husband and kids. I'm the same person, but I've got these different lives and roles to play. For 5 days I left my role as mother and wife and re-entered my role as sister, daughter, cousin, neice, and granddaughter. In some ways that brings me back in touch with a different "me". While taking a short break from visiting my grandmother in a nursing home, I was able to walk a few blocks down to where she and Grandpa used to live. What fun to relive memories from my childhood. These are the kinds of memories that don't come to you when you're sitting at a computer screen at work or putting away dishes in your kitchen. These are the kinds of memories that can only happen when you are actually back at Grandma's House (even if it is only lurking around the outside).

Grandma's house looks smaller from the outside than I remembered it (even though subsequent owners put on an addition). Grandma's 4 o'clocks have been replaced by bushes and the once spotless and flawless driveway meticulously tended by Grandpa has cracks and decay. The clothelines in the back are gone; those are where Grandma would put out her sheets and underwear to dry on a nice day (the undies were always hidden on the inside lines by the sheets). Grandma and Grandpa once had a bicycle built for two and showed us kids how to ride it by demonstrating, just the two of them. I thought it was the funniest thing seeing these "old people" ride the bike together! Little did I know that roughly 35 years later Grandma would still be around at 98.5 years old! My walk took me past the municipal pool. While only about 6 blocks from Grandma and Grandpa's house, I know my sister and I would often convince Grandma that she should drive us. Once at the pool I would no doubt annoy her with constant Look-at-me's the way kids do. I was convinced she wanted nothing more to do than watch my every move in the pool!

Such memories can only come to one when prompted by the PLACE. I fear that I may never have reason to go back to that little town once Grandma is gone. I fear those memories will go, too, once the PLACE is gone from my life.

But then again, a conversation with my Dad may prove me wrong. While sitting at his cabin this morning, we somehow got on the subject of HIS father who has long since passed on. I was astonished by all Dad was able to recall about his own father's childhood and upbringing, interests and life. I urged him to write his father's life-story so that it doesn't get forgotten for good.

Perhaps Dad should begin a blog?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Adoption

Is it just coincidence that I attend "Annie," a musical about an orphaned little girl adopted by a very rich man in the 1930's, in the same weekend as I attend for the 8th year the OURS Through Adoption Conference? Seems like this weekend is focused on adoption, so it seems appropriate that my blog do the same.

Having two adopted children doesn't always mean that I'm aware of our family as being "different," but certainly sometimes that comes in to play. Most of the time it doesn't really enter my consciousness, but other times it does and has to. Only now are my kids getting a handle on the concept of "family." So, I'm sure the questions are beginning more than ever before. If you're an adoptive family, I highly encourage you to stay connected to the adoption community; your family IS different than other families sometimes, and having support from other families can be invaluable to you. Having experiences with other kids like themselves, can be invaluable to the children.

Our family has been formed through a domestic adoption and an international adoption. I feel blessed to have had both experiences, but it means the kids' experiences are quite different, too. Our son knows his birthmother as we have an ongoing relationship with her family. Our daughter, having come from a Russian orphanage, will likely never know much about her birth family. If she does, it will be years from now and after a search. These are two VERY different stories with different ramifications for our children. A presenter today said something that stuck with me. She said that if we/I ever have a questions about our past we can find out the answer instantly; all it takes is a phonecall and someone will have a ready answer, but not so for those with unknown origins. I know my grandparents, their stories of how they met and fell in love, how old they were when they had children, what they ate at family celebrations and holidays, what they looked like and what their jobs were. If I want to know more about them or their siblings I can consult my mother or a family tree that has been compiled.

My daughter will not have any of this. It is no wonder that they can feel lonely and sad and disconnected or out of place. Who am I? Where do I belong? How am I like my parents? How am I different from them? How am I like my birth parents? How am I different from them? So many questions for now and later.

Once an adoptee, always an adoptee. It never goes away, and neither does the pain and grief of what has been lost. No adoption starts from a happy story. Think about a significant loss you've had - it doesn't matter what it was - that feeling of loss never leaves you; your life will never be the same. You'll learn to cope with the new life you lead, but you won't forget. And neither will the adoptee.

And so, today I have been reminded of the joys of being an adoptive family AND the pain and grief. I've been challenged to parent in a way today that will provide tools for my children through rough times in the future. Although Annie's story may be a bit too idealistic, I too say "tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. You're always a day away."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturdays

What is the function of Saturday? Of the four people in our house, there are four different ideas. Of course mine is the right one. My ideal Saturday? (An all about "me" view). First, sleep in until 8 AM, make a nice family breakfast of eggs or pancakes, take Boomer out to the Park to let him run while I get fresh air and a good walk in. Come back, do some house cleaning with the family so it only takes an hour or two. Then a bit of an easy lunch and spend the afternoon out and about with the family -something fun and active. This is perfect for LEAP at Lambeau (inflatables and a climbing wall like last weekend when Anna made the newspaper climbing the wall) or the Circus, or Building for Kids, or a park with the kids, a nice walk or bikeride somewhere, maybe the Y for some family swim time. . . In the evening, a nice night out with my husband for dinner and music or a show of some sort. Home around 10 or 11. All is well.

Anna's ideal Saturday. Wake at 6 AM (earlier than weekdays) in order to watch 3 hours of TV before anyone realizes it while at the same time inventing something or sewing or cutting something. Eat a quick breakfast (doesn't matter what it is). Stay in pajamas as long as possible. Have some sort of candy on or before 10 AM. Play on the computer for an hour or play Wii for an hour. By 11:30 though, she'd want to be "doing something fun" somewhere other than home. This could be Building for Kids in Appleton, the Circus, a farmer's market or flea market, shopping somewhere like the Dollar Tree, School House or Walmart, a fabric store, a day at Pamperin Park, or 5 or 6 different activities. Lunch out (at a Chinese restaurant or Noodles and Co., probably) and dinner out (somewhere nice as a sit down dinner or a buffet) would be great. Then home for a movie to snuggle up with the family. Notice there is NO CLEANING (she doesn't like to do chores), NO reading and involved and LOTS of media time and lots of ACTIVITIES. Bedtime about 8:30 with "favorite part of the day." (This paragraph was Anna-approved.)

Alec's ideal Saturday. Waking up at 7 and spending the morning in pajamas (certainly NOT showering) on computer games or Wii. After about 10 he'd like a sweet snack (say a cookie or brownie), then play with Anna indoors or outdoors. Some sort of lunch anywhere (if eating out - McDonalds). Doing some fun activities (at home or out-and-about) would make up the afternoon, things like going to a park, doing sandart or word searches, going to a birthday party, or hulahooping. After supper (whereever, whenever) some snuggling with Mommy, Daddy, or Boomer and a movie at home and to bed by 8:30 (after a few books and a prayer). Notice again NO chores. (This paragraph has been Alec-approved).

Brent's ideal Saturday. He'd like to sleep until 8:30 or 9, go out for breakfast somewhere with the family then home to get a bit of straightening done. Laid back morning into early afternoon (no lunch necessary since he would have eaten a big breakfast). By afternoon, off to the Y to workout/do some lifting. Late afternoon, come home and have a quiet nap. By the evening he'd want to be taking out his wife for dinner and maybe a movie. Home around 9 or 10. Late night TV until bedtime. (This has not been Brent approved, but seeing as he's spending all morning at church for rehearsal and potentially all afternoon with Spirit Alive, I'm pretty sure his ideal Saturday includes lots of "chilling.")

Finally, Boomer's ideal day. A fun run in the woods in the morning with Mom, chasing anything he can smell, then breakfast, scraps from the table, then a long afternoon rest, and another long walk or run in the late afternoon. He'd want the whole family together in the same place at the same time for the whole day. Another meal and snacks, a bit of tummy rubbing from any of the family members, no torturing by any of the kids, and he's a happy "puppy." Bedtime at 9:30.

Ciao!