Parenthood (the rest of the season)

Let’s hear it for random blogging.

The Braverman’s have really been through a lot this season, amiright? 

We watched Tuesday’s nights episode a day late and I’m sad to see Mark Cyr seems to be back in the picture. I really have a hard time with this guy. Maybe it is the mustache-like thing on his face. Oh well, I have a feeling those two are destined to be together.

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I’m mostly invested in the story-line with Julia, Joel, Victor and Sydney this season. I think Crosby may have saved the day in this past episode. Each week, I find myself wanting to recommend so many books and methods and therapies to this family. I think Julia’s had unrealistic expectations for Victor. It is hurtful when our kids don’t fall in love with us immediately (in foster care/adoption) and it is hard when the feelings we expect to have ourselves don’t show up the way we thought they would. I empathize with her so much. I want to grab coffee and tell her, “It will get better. Just hang in there!” I’ve long-learned that it is wrong to expect realistic situations out of TV shows but I think they have done a pretty good job with this issue.

I don’t really know what to say about Drew & Amy except that it made me very sad. I was sad that Drew didn’t really get a choice. I was sad that Amy felt she had no other option. I was sad that their parents were so unaware of what was happening with their kids.

This season is ending up being a very short one and I think that is doing a lot of disservice to Kristina’s story-line. I don’t think they are doing justice to the reality of cancer.

Final quick thoughts…

  • Loved the hilarious dialogue about puberty with Zeke, Camille, Max and Kristina a few weeks ago
  • Loving Amber’s hair recently (and I love her and Ryan together – hope that all resolves)
  • Will we ever see Haddie again?

Parenthood (Season 4, Episode 1)

I’m not going to even try to hide the fact that I love TV. Today, I went through my calendar and noted the fall start dates for each of my favorite shows (and new shows that have potential to become favorite shows).

Parenthood started last week. I love this show even when it frustrates me. That is probably why the Bravermans feel like family.

I was worried that Ray Ramono’s addition to the cast would be a bit annoying but I actually really liked him. Last season, I was 100% sold-out on Team Seth. I love a good redemption story – a recovering drug-addict and the re-kindling of what Sarah called “the love of her life.” I so wanted that to happen but for some reason Sarah still loves the mustached Mark Cyr (ick). I’d be more than happy if Ray Ramono’s character, Hank, stole Sarah’s affections. Gosh, I would even be happy if Sarah was just on her own for a bit. Am I right, ladies?

Last year’s adoption plot-line was PAINFUL to watch. I had so much frustration over how it was handled and then at the last minute Joel (who I refer to as “The Man Who Can Do No Wrong”) and Julia take in a seven-year old boy. I’m still nervous over how it will play out but I thought Julia’s realization in the season opener was pretty realistic when she said, “I feel like I’m waiting to fall in love with our son.” I hope that is what we get to see happen as the season continues.

(*sob*)

The show closed with Haddie getting on a plane to leave for college. She was full of attitude the whole episode. It was too relate-able. I remember being such a brat as I got ready to leave for college and being super embarrassed as my mom asked some other students for directions when we got to campus. I sat there watching that scene with my baby girl in my arms and decided that we would home-school our kids through college. That is possible, right?

And two quick and parting thoughts…

  • Oh, Drew. Poor Drew. Does he even see it coming?
  • Joel’s Hair. I have mixed-feelings.

Feel free to call me over-invested in the lives fictional characters. I’m okay with that and I know plenty of you who are with me on this.

Back to Blogging (Maybe)

The other day, I found myself leaving a comment on people.com. Obviously, this is not a good sign. It is not an place of reason. I had an opinion and I needed to get it out of my head. Sometimes I just need to write.

I changed the header and title of this blog (not the URL because, well, I don’t know how to do that). I stole the new title from a Rosie Thomas song that makes me cry. It is about all that can happen in just a year. For us, it was about 14 months. It has been amazing and crazy and some days it does not seem like there is much left of my brain.

But, whatever is left, may just end up here from now on. I’m realizing I need to a place to remember what life is like right now as we raise these three young children. If I don’t write it down, I’ll soon forget. So, I’m officially back to inconsistent, random blogging.

Reading Material

I really do want to write. I can’t decide if I want people to read it or not. And I also have a hard time getting a coherent thought out without being interrupted by someone who needs to be hugged, fed or clothed. So, for now, I’ll share some of what I’ve been reading…

The Trouble with Dave Ramsey from Shannan at Flower Patch Farmgirl

We resisted what we believed in the pit of our stomachs to be true. We thought we could serve them both. We thought maybe we could be that one rich couple who has a lot of money so that they can give more away. We wanted a piece of the blessing of God’s promise, but we hoped it could be without sacrifice. We didn’t want the “living like no one else” to be for nothing.

Six things adoption has taught me by Shaun Groves at Simple Mom

In 2007, I visited an Ethiopian orphanage, trying not to make eye contact with any of the little ones around me in need of a father. I’ve always found avoidance to be the surest way to never feel bad about saying “no.” My brother-in-law, who was adopting from Ethiopia, was there with me. “Maybe we’ve made it too complicated,” he said. (I knew by “we” he meant “me.”) “What if God’s will for our life is found wherever someone’s need and our ability intersect?”

From By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity by Wendy Horger Alsup

I was taken back a bit when I first read the definition of the Greek term translated humility. It means a deep sense of your littleness, especially your moral littleness. Unlike our culture’s watered down version of this term, humility does not mean that you are simply nice, polite, or diplomatic. It means that you have a correct understanding of your salvation as Paul outlined in Ephesians 2. You understand that you were dead in your sins, you were born a child deserving of God’s judgement, and God saved you by his grace and not by your own works. You understand your moral littleness. Then you respond to others in light of this understanding. A humble person does not stand in judgment against others from a point of righteous indignation. You and I have completely missed the entire message of Ephesian 1 and 2 if we think we have any moral high ground over anyone else. This is the core of the gospel.

And, lastly, this verse has shown up to me through various people and places over and over in the last month.

I have told you these things, so that in me you you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

Reading Material

I LOVE this post from Shaun Groves on God, poverty and the government. At one point in my life, I was very interested in politics and now I am very cynical and get all my political information from Comedy Central. Shaun’s post is so well-balanced and has lots and lots of links and resources.

Megan from Millions of Miles re-posted this from last year: Do you have room?

“Wait!” I’d like to think I would scream, “I have room! Come and let Jesus be born here!” But if Mary and Joseph had taken me up on that offer, would I have really done it? Or would I have said, “Well… actually, it’s kinda cramped in here. And we have our routine and you might get in the way of that a little. Oh, and by the way- we all snore. You know, come to think of it, we’re really pretty comfortable here just as we are. Are you sure you want to stay here? We don’t have a lot of money and our TV is very small. If you went down the street, they’d probably let you stay there and their house is way bigger and they have a lot of money. You might really be more comfortable somewhere else. I’ll tell you what- here. Here’s a few dollars. Good luck. I really do think someone else could accommodate you better. And if they can’t, well… I’m just sorry. It’s just not a good time for me. You understand, right?”

Meanwhile, Jesus gets born in a barn…

And meanwhile, millions of children all over the world go without families because we tell ourselves the very same excuses…

And, lastly, this one is just pretty. Our house is about 1,000 square feet (not including a full basement & garage). I am pretty content with this size of a house but it is a challenge to organize and figure out what goes where. I always love seeing examples of small, simple living done beautifully and this house tour from Apartment Therapy was a perfect example.

photos from apartment therapy

You can see more of this house at the family’s blog: {aka}|design

Mystery Box Memories

We are nine days away from when this little girl is supposed to arrive. Who knows when she will decide to grace us with her presence but, for now, we are packing in the fun and getting ready to celebrate Christmas.

My parents started a tradition when we were kids that I knew I wanted to do when we had kids as well (actually , I wanted to do it before we had kids but D would not cooperate). Each year, each member of the family picks a special person and together we put together a box of goodies for that person. One night before Christmas, we hop in the van when it is dark out, drive to that person’s house, ring the doorbell and then run to hide. Inside the box is a poem/song, with hints about our identity.

This started last week on Thursday since the friend that DIB picked was headed for vacation the next day. I gave his friend’s mom a little warning that they might have a surprise on their doorstep that evening. DIB was so excited to drop off his mystery box and loved hiding in bushes while he heard his friend open the door and find the surprise. Just a few minutes after we left, his friend called him (he has guessed it was DIB from the clues) and DIB was so excited to talk on the phone, he even introduced himself by stating his full name.

The next evening, the rest of us got to deliver our boxes. It was getting late and the boys were happy to find parents in a crunch for time so they got to each McDonald’s chicken nuggets in the car as we drove to our first destination. AIB’s friend wasn’t home but a few hours later we got a message from him and his mom. It was a recording of them opening the box and his friend guessing AIB as the “Secret Santa” who had left the box of goodies. D picked his mom as his special person and the boys’ were thrilled to get to ring Grandma Nan’s doorbell and run away. She guessed pretty quickly who is was from since D’s song included the line, “I’m sorry that I was born huge” (kind of a giveaway that the box was from her largest child – nine pounds a birth)! We stopped in for a quick visit with Papa and Grandma Nan before we headed out to our final spot. I picked my friend, Meredith, and wrote a little song to the tune of Breath of Heaven (much trickier than I had anticipated). It was fun to get her message later that night saying she had figured it out and enjoyed the surprise.

Last year, the boys had only been in our home for about four weeks at Christmas time and I couldn’t pull this off last year. We were still in “getting-to-know-you” mode. One year in, I can say we know these guys pretty well. We have good and bad days but we all love each other and are definitely a family.

Yesterday, the boys sang in church (with the rest of the kids). They did this last year as well but this year was different because instead of looking totally confused and a bit annoyed, AIB actually sang! Last year he cracked us up with his serious expression and lack of enthusiasm. This year, he chimed in with the rest of the group to sing Jesus Loves Me and Hallelujah (which he continued to sing the rest of the day).

Once we were home, the boys played nicely together and I couldn’t help but be thankful that they have each other. At night, we read a couple of books and when I tucked them into bed, AIB grabbed me around the neck with his little arm and said, “Stay here!” I said, “I can’t, buddy. I have to go do your laundry.” He then said, “Oh, sorry, mom!” I reassured him that I was very happy to take care of his laundry for him (at least for a few more years). We love these boys and can’t believe how far they have come in the past year.

A Sad Kiddo

If you saw us Sunday after church, you know that I had a very sad four-year-old on my hands. He was getting lots of sympathy because he just looked miserable. Why? I have no idea.

We’ve noticed that the way AIB wakes up can have an effect on his whole day and, Sunday, he woke up pretty happy. But not too long after he had gotten ready, he started talking in a whine exclusively. It was work to get him out the door to church since he suddenly forgot how to do things like put on shoes and his coat. He chose not to eat breakfast and right as we walked out the door he told me he was hungry. I suspect this had something to do with his attitude.

His Sunday school teacher said he was fine in class but as soon as I picked him up he went back to being solemn. Crazy kid wouldn’t even eat a chocolate covered donut without coaxing. We had two cars at church and DIB was doing just fine and enjoying the attention of the older kids who kindly play with him (the kids tried to play with AIB too but he was not having it). I told AIB that we could just go home since he was having a rough day and this sent him straight to tears saying that he didn’t want to go home. However, he was in no condition to be with people. He sobbed the whole way walking to the car and the twenty minute drive home. When I asked him what was upsetting him, he just said that he didn’t want to leave or that he wanted to be with his brother (which is his usual response whenever he gets upset). He was over-reacting so much to the situation (we told him that he wasn’t in trouble but that he might need more sleep) and could not pull himself together.

The whole way home, I was thinking, “What is going on with this kid?” He had gotten plenty of sleep and nothing major had happened that day. This was one of those times when I just wonder if there is a hurt so deep in his heart from his early life that neither he nor we can understand or know.

I did the only thing I knew to do when we got home. Pulled him up on the couch with me, cuddled and took a nap. I’ve got a thousand things to do and am not a napper myself (even at 9 months pregnant) but I couldn’t help but think, “This is probably the most important thing for me to do right now.”

There are many things that could have been going on. AIB might have just been overly-tired, he may have been having a bad day, he may have purposefully been acting that way to get attention. He might have been having a time of confusion and frustration at all the changes that have taken place in his life over the past year (and the impending change of becoming a big brother). He can’t articulate any of this to us yet. All he knows was that he was sad and he needed to cry, cuddle and sleep.

This was one of those times as a parent through adoption where I had no clue what was going on. He wasn’t being bad (although, his sadness was making him act rudely). He was just sad and he needed to be comforted, even if he didn’t know why.

Random Snippets

The whole blogging thing is going to be sporadic for a while. Here are a few snippets from the past few weeks…

  • A few weeks ago, we took a full-day birthing class. Honestly, I found the whole thing fascinating and really enjoyed it as well as meeting other couples who were due around the same time. I think D enjoyed the class a lot too. The two doulas who taught the class were funny and kept things moving so it didn’t get too boring. And, the graphic videos and images, were kept to a minimum. This past Friday, we have a private “bonus” class with one of the doulas to get some additional information and I am feeling pretty prepared now. I’ve read a few books but I’ve always learned better by what I hear and see so these classes were a great preparation for me and D. Just before Thanksgiving, we toured the birth center so now we actually know where to go at the hospital when the time comes (four weeks to go)!
  • The woman who taught our class has a six-year-old son and mentioned that she got him the Lego Police Station for Christmas. As soon as she said that, I couldn’t help but think about how much our boys would love something like that. I made the mistake of looking up the police station and fire station on Amazon. In total, they are over 1300 pieces of Legos. After talking to D, we decided to go for it and make this the boys “big” present for Christmas (the storage system might be a gift more for me though).

  • As usual, I’ve done most of my Christmas shopping so far online. I ordered the cutest dress-up police costume for our nephew, Shay. It arrived today and D opened the box. As soon as I could see what was in it, I said, “Don’t show that to AIB.” However, he was right there and really wanted to know. We prefaced letting him look by saying this was a gift for his cousin, not for him. And then we talked about how we need to think about others and how important it is to give gifts to those we love. He shook his head and we let him look inside. Immediately, I could tell what he was thinking. We asked him to pretend like he was Shay opening the gift and told him that if he was really nice to Shay and was a good gift-giver, that sometime Shay would probably share it with him. We have a long way to go on teaching the boys to be generous and self-less.
  • We are getting the house ready to add our fifth family member and it seems like there is no end to the work. I’m trying to make peace with the idea that it might not all be done by the time she arrives. But one thing that is the top of my list is to record a new podcast. We have seriously slacked on this and have lots to share about the boys, our “family-versary” and how they are doing. I have a drafted outline and I am hoping by putting this out there that it will get us motivated to sit down and record an episode ASAP.

That is my quick, not-too-exciting update on life.

National Adoption Month

November is half-way over. I know I am slacking on blogging (as well as many other areas of my life) but a bunch of things have moved higher on the priority list. I hate when I don’t have time to do lots of the things I would love to do (like actually complete this) but we are busy with our two boys and life. Regardless, I started a post about National Adoption Month on November 1st and a few things have happened this week that make me want to get this quick post out.

I know I talk about foster care a lot and I worry that I’m over-doing it sometimes. I worry about what people think. Do they think we are “holier-than-thou?” Do they think I’m trying to guilt them into something? I should probably stop worrying so much. I know what my intentions are (they are neither of those things). God put orphans on my heart early in life and it is a passion that has only increased in recent years. And, I think this is why:

We’ve had many kids in our home and I’ve seen even more when at our foster agency. They are beautiful and wonderful and once you see them, they are hard to forget. I know that we cannot take every kid. We can only parent the ones that God has planned for our family but I have to hope and pray that there are more families willing to foster and adopt.

And I know that there are other families who are called to do this. Early this year, a friend and I stayed up late one night and she let me share about foster care and adoption with her. My encouragement to her was to pray and read Adopted for Life. This week, they received their license and a phone call shortly after asking them to take in a little boy.

Also early this year, Martina contacted me through this blog. I told her the same thing – pray and read Adopted for Life. Amazing things have happened for Martina and her husband and the girls they have had in their home (read more about it here).

Please know that I’m not trying to nag or guilt or pressure anyone into anything. I know at one point, I never wanted to consider being a foster parent but someone encouraged us to consider these kids and I am forever grateful for that. Don’t be afraid to ask God, “Is this what you have for us?” And, for National Adoption Month, will you consider praying about it (for real) and reading Adopted for Life?