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?

Notes from Maternity Leave

Our little girl was born four weeks ago which means I have four weeks left of maternity leave. I very much appreciate and need the time off but not working is very strange for me. My job is only part-time and very flexible but it was part of my routine so everything feels a bit different.

In the fall, we signed up for a cable package so that we could watch college football. Well, college football is over and we still have cable. I told D to cancel it this week because the endless amount of home-buyers on House Hunters who claim they can’t live without stainless steel appliances, open concept and walk-in closets is making me cynical about the American public as a whole. It isn’t good when you start talking to the TV in a sarcastic and judge-y tone. You would think I would just turn off the TV but I don’t have the will power so cable must go.

DIB joined his first after-school activity last week and is now a proud member of the Running Club. They literally just run for an hour two-days per week after school. He really, really wanted to participate and I think any way he can get out that extra energy without damaging something is a great idea.

AIB lost two teeth this week. One was very loose and he let me pull it out for him. The one that was next to it was also loose and was kicked out by his brother while they were playing in a ball-pit. He was so happy about getting another $1 that he didn’t seem to care that his brother had kicked him in face.

MNB is growing and doing well. She is doing all the things that babies do. We’ve been enjoying all the cuddles and she is a great sleeper. Since I head back to work in a few weeks, I knew I needed to set up some type of routine so I’m doing the same thing we did with T (which is the EASY routine from The Baby Whisperer). We just started today and it is going pretty well but things are going to be very different this time around with two older brothers who have their own schedule.

Tomorrow, our foster licensing worker comes over to add our new family member to our file. All this means is that she needs to see her and see where she sleeps. We probably won’t be taking any respite or long-term placements for a while but our license still up-to-date since we don’t feel done with foster care yet. In the meantime, we are happily filling out reference forms and answering questions from a few friends who are either new foster parents or getting their license soon.

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?

Life Update

I hate titling blog posts. I might just stop and leave them title-less.

Not much is new around here except that every morning I wake up larger than the day before and someone literally has their foot in my ribs. It is an odd feeling.

On Thursdays, our schedule usually allows both D and I to go pick up the boys at school. The boys have termed this “a double.” Both the schools are in our neighborhood and end at nearly the same time so it is always a bit of a scramble to get to DIB’s school. Thankfully, our neighbor is always willing to wait with him for a minute or two if we are late. It usually works out that we are walking up just as his class gets released.

Last night, we had a potluck at AIB’s preschool and needed to pick up our assigned item so we headed to Trader Joe’s right after school. Since D was with me, I agreed to let both the boys use the child size carts for our groceries thinking that surely two adults could manage two kids. After a few warnings to be careful, DIB ended up loosing his cart after he nearly took out an elderly woman in the frozen food aisle. He went straight into the ugly cry (seriously, it is awful) and since the cart was full of food we actually needed that left AIB and me to finish the shopping while D dealt with the ugly-crier. This means I (a very pregnant looking adult woman) was left to push a miniature shopping cart around. The thing about being consistent in discipline is that you end up doing things you really don’t want to do sometimes.

We got to the potluck at AIB’s school and ate a very random dinner. AIB loves school…a lot. He was so proud to show us his classroom especially the class gerbil and the orange line where they line up. He assigned himself “line leader” (there was only the four of us there) and led us to the science room. We enjoyed dinner but it was a bit to hectic to converse with the other families. It was loud and there were so many kids (it is a very large preschool). We do love how diverse the school is and I’m very happy with how happy AIB is at this school. I think he would be happy anywhere but it is proving to be such a great experience for him.

This weekend, I’m headed to a Mom-2-Mom sale to pick up some stuff for Baby Girl and probably a few things for the boys, if there is anything good. Finding used clothes for boys this age is challenging because most clothes do not survive the activity level of a five year old boy. We also have a visit with M & T and their mom planned. We haven’t seen them since early summer. We often see little girls at AIB’s school who remind us of M a lot. We are really looking forward to being able to visit with them.

In pregnancy related news, we signed up for our child-birth class which means we are actually going to do this whole “having a baby thing.” I may have to live-Tweet/blog/Facebook the whole thing because I think D is going to be hilarious (intentionally and unintentionally) as we sit through a full-day class taught by a doula in a fairly crunchy near-by town.

FAQ #20: Can you share pictures of the kids now?

We are allowed, now that the boys are adopted, to share pictures of them. However, for their safety and privacy, we probably won’t be doing that on the blog. There are a few places online where I have privacy settings set up so I can share pictures with people we know in real life. T & W just did a great episode on privacy & security with foster kids.

So, for now, I’ll continue to post faceless pictures of them. But, I promise you, they are terribly cute!

And Just Like That…

We are back down to a family of four (well, five, if you want to count Baby Girl and, six, if you want to count our dog, Piper, which I do).

G moved in with her long-term foster family Wednesday (where she can be with her brother). She has known she would be going there so the transition was not too difficult especially because she already knows them and has seen them multiple times in the last few weeks. AIB said he wanted her to stay with us. It reminded me to talk to him again about how some kids only live with us for a little bit but he and his brother were going to stay with us forever.

G was very cute and I am glad she was able to stay with us for a bit. She was probably the most traumatized kid we have cared for yet. I can’t get into all the details of her situation (obviously) but she was very verbal and expressive about her situation. In fact, she seemed totally preoccupied with what she had gone though (not that you can blame her). I submitted a request to the agency that she be able to meet with one of the therapists there and I am hoping she continues to do well in school even though her mind seems like it is in a different place. Please pray for her if you think about it.

This weeks also marks the beginning of my third trimester of pregnancy. I’m feeling rather “large & in-charge” these days even though my midwife says I am on totally on track for weight gain and belly size for 26+ weeks. You know what is weird? Having someone take a measuring tape to your stomach. My last visit was the first time she had done this and it made me feel like a home improvement project.

I am probably one of the pickiest  most particular people I know, which honestly, is annoying to myself. What would be simple would be to find some baby bedding that I like in the store. But I can’t find anything I like except some curtains at Urban Outfitters that are back-ordered until November. This has left me with one crazy looking mess of a “getting ready for baby” pinboard.

Baby Girl will wear the John Stewart onesie.

I also liked some of the Missoni for Target baby stuff but, I’m not sure if you heard or not, but it all sold out and crashed Target’s website. I blame Rachel Zoe.