Thursday, February 28, 2013

Through Her Eyes

Watching kids discover and learn is truly amazing.  One of my favorite things to watch is how they try to imitate life and pretend on their own. 

Almost every day I find some little arrangement or situation that Arella has created.  It's helped me get a tiny little glimpse of life through her eyes.

Any time Arella sees a diver or picture of a diver she says "Mama!"  Not gonna lie, I love that!  Here she is showing Zoe how camels dive from palm trees.

Making sure the angel gets enough milk so she can tell Mary & Joseph about Jesus.  Not to mention Arella is sharing her very own milk- she obviously recognizes the importance of this angel.

Cats and dogs need transportation, too.
Arella is happy to help taxi them around.

I had no idea how crucial the whale was to guiding the ark.

Apparently Noah kept in shape by exercising on a giraffe.

It's very important all the animals look out for each other.

Sometimes you just need to chill out on the bench and enjoy the scenery.

And the lion must make sure to hold onto the handles as the horse gives him a ride.

It's good to celebrate by dancing with friends.

Of course the dog has to be at dinner too, right next to the baby, since he eats all her gifts on the floor.

And sometimes the meal time mess is so big it requires an elephant for clean up.

Occasionally after dinner you have to hang out on the roof for some fresh air... with your elephant of course.

It is also very important to make sure the whole family gets a good night sleep.  And note the "moon" and "star" on the roof for night time.

And of course my favorite.  When I took Zoe to the medical center to get the tube in her ear, Arella insisted Daddy set up Zoe's highchair and bib for breakfast, too.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Little Miss Modesty

Arella, now a whopping 21 months, has recently discovered how to take her clothes off.  When she takes her pants off, she becomes the giddiest child on the planet, pointing to her legs, laughing and just running around like a wild woman set free.  When she sees Mommy change pants, it brings the laughter to a whole new level, and she furiously giggles and points to my bare legs saying, "Uh-oh!"  She also thinks if she has no pants on, then Zoe should have no pants on.  Sisters need to do everything together!

The other day we were shopping at Target, currently our favorite girlie get-a-way and one-stop-shop.  As we walked down the main aisle, Arella spotted the lingerie section.  There was a large picture of a woman from the waist up with only a bra on.  Arella's hands shot up to her mouth with a big gasp, then she pointed  at the picture and shouted, "Uh-oh!" as loud as possible.  She kept looking at me and pointing back to the picture with this adorable look of concern.  This was no laughing matter.

It's amazing to me that she knew this wasn't a silly, funny moment at home with family.  This was a woman in public with no shirt on.  I love how, at not even 2 years old, she knows that's not right.  But now it has me wondering how in the world I'm going to explain swim suits to her...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine's Day

Watch out world, Mommy got brave and let the girls paint their Valentine's cards.  I happened across this easy craft where you take a toilet paper roll, flatten it, then bend in one side forming a heart.  You simply put tape around the tube and let your kids dip it in paint to make a heart stamp.

Arella was very focused and hard at work making beautiful cards.  Zoe was very confused and more concerned on why I had garbage bags over their clothes.  While Arella dipped and stamped away, Zoe tried but seemed to think the white stuff was some kind of dipping sauce and would be better to eat than paint with.

So we finally just started stamping Zoe's hand on the card.  Which meant Arella wanted to stamp her hand, so it all morphed into the beautiful art of finger painting.  These little cuties handmade some precious cards without too much help from Mommy!

Then their handsome prince Daddy brought his girls their first roses.  Attention future princes: the standard has been set.  Arella was fascinated and in awe of her rose, making sure everyone got to smell it at least 15 times, before she popped the top off the rose to play with and examine closer.

Zoe thought it was neat to see a flower up close and personal, not just in a picture.  She even made her sign for "flower."  She's still trying to figure out what it means to smell, though, other than to stick your nose in something.

My parents made our day extra special by playing with the girls to give us a much needed evening out!  My handsome prince took me to a lovely dinner, treated me like a princess, and brought me home feeling refreshed and recharged.  What a beautiful day...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Baby's Cry

My head is pounding, my lip is fat and slightly bloody, and I think there may be a very nasty bruise on my leg hiding under my jeans.  No, I did not just finish a platform diving workout.  No, I did not start training for UFC.  No, I did not get in a car accident.  That's right; it was just another fun filled night with non-sleeping toddlers.

Last night I tortuously listened to a super spicy, angry Peanut scream on and off for an hour before finally falling asleep for the night.  It's been a rough week or so for us sleep-wise, and there has been a lot of screaming in the middle of the night, though not all from me.

Eriek was at class last night so it was just me on my own, staring at the monitor, praying for her to rest, willing that the red lights turn green again.  It was agony listening to her but holding myself back from going in to pick her up.  I knew she was just mad, but the fact that she works herself up so much that she throws up dinner in her bed, makes it a little harder to not immediately pounce. (After cleaning up from the vomit episode of course.)

My mind starts to play tricks on me, saying, "Just go in and soothe her, then you'll both feel better."  Ha!  Now that I have experience on my side, I can't even fool myself! I know that sneaky little Peanut will woo me over til she's out of bed and back pushing her play stroller around the living room.  Or she'll just want me to hold her for around 8 hours, never allowing me to sit down or even lean on the wall.  I love you Peanut, so I'm not going in.

Just because I know in my head she's alright and that this is the only way she will go to sleep tonight, doesn't make it easy.  My heart still aches.  I still cried because she cried.  It still hurts to listen to such a little one you love scream her heart out, even when you know everything is okay.

So as I'm praying for God to give Zoe rest and me wisdom and discernment, I couldn't help but think about the other moms out there listening to their children cry and scream.  Some of those babies are just like Zoe, healthy and safe with a mommy going crazy trying to figure out what to do.  Some of those babies are hungry.  Some are sick.  Some of those sweet babies don't have a Mommy to listen to them cry.  Some of those babies have stopped crying because no one responds.

Of course that led me to wonder what the orphanage was like that Zoe lived in.  Who was there when Zoe cried out?  Did she learn not to cry because no one came?  Who was with her at the hospital when she had pneumonia both times?   Was she frightened and all by herself?  Did anyone pick her up to comfort her?  What will happen to the others who don't have a forever family coming to get them?

My heart is broken for these babies.  If not us, then who will be like Jesus to the least of these?

Adoption is an amazing journey, but I totally get that it's not for everyone.  But there are still so many ways we can take action right now.  You want to make a difference in this world?  Check out this blog post for a list of ways you can change the world for someone.

I heard this song shortly after we brought Zoe home, and it absolutely pierces my heart.  It captures the essence of what it means to help the least of these.  It's Audio Adrenaline's new song Kings & Queens for their Hands and Feet Project in Haiti. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chasing Perfection

Some interesting things have been said to me in the last week.  Two of them have really stuck with me.  One was probably the greatest compliment I've ever been paid.  The other was honestly meant to a be a compliment, but it made me quite sad.

While praying with a friend after coffee last week, she thanked God that I was real. Just three days later another friend told me our family was perfect.  So which is it?

If I am real then I am certainly not perfect.  If I am perfect then I am certainly not real.

Instead of looking to and trying to be like the One who actually did live a perfect life, void of sin, I tend to hyper focus on one thing in my life I think I can fix, and in my delusional human mind I think that will make everything better, perfect.  Or I put some ordinary person I happen to think is amazing for some reason on a pedestal and analyze how I don't measure up.  I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who's been down this road.

Here's the deal, when I finally got to that perfect number on the scale, the number wasn't so perfect any more.  When I finally earned a goal income, I didn't understand why I wasn't making more.  After I won every major world title possible in my sport, I wanted to repeat it with a better performance.  I got angry when the people I put on pedestals failed to measure up to my expectations once I got to know them.  Nothing was ever enough.

And nothing in this world will ever truly satisfy or live up to our ideas of perfection.  We will always be left thirsting for more.  The problem is that this world isn't perfect, it's broken, it's fallen and so are we.  I can't put a band aid of success on myself and stamp "fixed" on top.  Band aids don't heal gaping wounds.

There is only one way we can truly chase an unbroken, righteous, holy perfection, and in fact we are called to chase it:
"You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  -Matthew 5:48
Mind you, this declaration to be perfect in love comes after verse 44, you know the real zinger people love to quote but not live out.  " your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..."  It's all great in the sermon but by the time we reach the parking lot all hope is lost as we cut each other off on the race to lunch.

It's tough for me to digest that this is the perfection I should be chasing, not the images I see in US Weekly or on TV.  Not the walls draped with numerous doctorates or the fancy cars, yachts and summer homes of the wealthy.  The perfection I should be chasing is often found in tear stained faces of people with upturned hands.  God, dare I ask you to teach me how to chase Your perfection?  Yes.

And just in case some of you have sweetly, yet mistakenly placed me on a perfection pedestal on which I do not belong, let me introduce you to my real side.
  • Sunday afternoon I became a toddler myself as I stomped my foot, clenched my fists, and screamed, "I AM SO FRUSTRATED!" In loving response my daughters completely ignored me, and my husband rolled his eyes and promptly followed them out of the room.
  • I am a retired world class athlete that has officially not worked out in a year and am kicking myself every day for it.  I see people with toned bodies in workout clothes every day around here and I get jealous and angry.  But I still don't do anything about it.
  • A few weeks back I was the woman with a toddler and three bags hanging from one arm while trying desperately with my other arm to get my other toddler to stop laying down flat on her face in the middle of a parking lot.
  • I am 5 minutes late for everything.  Kids are no excuse; I've always been like this.
  • I was the lady in the grocery store the other day with throw up covering the front of my shirt and two adorable little girls going MMA in the front of the cart over a snack cup of Goldfish crackers.
  • And just in case you need more ammo, let me load your gun.  I speak in public for a living, yet I absolutely despise having to pick up the phone and call someone.  I have no idea what it is, but I have dreaded it ever since I can remember.  I can hold a conversation once I'm on, and I'm okay about answering calls, but I'm terrible about returning calls and keeping in touch with friends because of this.  I'm a horrible communicator.
So real friends, there you have it.  Keep me off your pedestal and I'll keep you off mine.  Let's chase perfect love like Jesus instead.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

She's Officially Offical

We've had Zoe in our arms for two full months now, and today her Certificate of Citizenship came in the mail!


And on not as nearly as exciting of a note, she had her first ENT appointment today, and she's getting a tube in her ear on Thursday.  Oh yay.  (Said with oozing sarcasm if you didn't pick that up.)

The appointment actually went really well.  We were referred to Texas Children's for her ear and jaw, which we expected and have an appointment there at the end of the month.  Likely those won't even need to be addressed surgically until she's at least 5 or 6 years old.  But this doctor did confirm that her palette looks great.  Woohoo!  He also mentioned that a lot of times kids with these kinds of structural issues will have narrower passageways which can make it hard to process things like phlegm.

She does have fluid, and apparently did have a lot of wax before he took it out, in her good ear.  The audiologist said at best she hears from her one good ear like there's an ear plug in it.  So it floors me even more that she responds to us and mimics what we're saying so well.  The tube should help clear everything up and enable her to hear well and be able to develop normal speech.

It's awesome they could get us in so fast, but knowing my little one is going under, even if just for 15 minutes, in about 36 hours is hard on Mommy's heart.  I know it will help a ton.  I know it's a simple procedure.  I know all these things, but it's still hard to think about.  I guess this will just ready my heart for the road to come.

But I will say, fluid or not, she's one happy little camper these days, even with all 4 molars coming in at one time.  These pictures are a far cry from that quiet, shy little peanut up above.  She is definitely starting to show more of her spicy side.