And Here We Are

It’s October 31.

Halloween….and the last day of the 31 days of writing challenge.

I made it to the end. I missed a few days, but I kept on going. I had no clue I had that many posts in me.

But I did.

If it’s one thing I have learned from this challenge, is that I need to keep going. That I need to make blogging a priority once again.

I’ve loved connecting to other bloggers and learning and simply writing my heart.

Will I miss a few days {maybe a couple weeks} here and there? Most definitely.

Because I am a mama. And my kiddos and my family will always come first. I love blogging and community, but not at the expense of my time with family.

It’s definitely a balance. But, it’s also good for this mama bear to have a creative outlet. I used to have one through my handmade business and I loved it for the season of life I was in at the time. But, my season has changed and I now have itty bitties again and I don’t want to miss watching them grow. They grow entirely too fast for my liking!

{WHY must children grow up so fast??}

So, goodbye October! It was awesome. I will be back in November and plan to keep on writing….

How about you? Did you do the challenge? What did you take away from it?

 

Almost Like Home {3 Years Later}

This week is a pretty significant one for our family. Three years ago, we were on our third trip to Russia to bring our daughter home.

It’s a big deal. And, ironically, I’m surprised at how emotional I am about it. Which, if you know me in real life, you know how much of an emotional being I can be.

And this is definitely something I am typically pretty emotional about.

But this time? This time it’s a little bit different. There is definitely the emotion of excitement as we approach our final post placement and our 3rd Familiversay {aka “gotcha day”} in the next couple weeks.

And with the excitement, there is definitely a mixed bag of emotions. It’s bittersweet in a way.

And I think that is the part I’m taken by surprise with. I wasn’t expecting the bittersweet. I was expecting more of the sweet.

I’m not sure why this would surprise me though. Because if anything with our adoption process, it definitely had plenty of the bittersweet mixed in.

But all of that to bring you to this. A post I wrote THREE years ago today. I am still in awe at how fast the time has flown. Yet, here we are….

And this? This was happening three years ago:

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Almost Like Home

Sunday, October 30, 2011

There we were, driving on a familiar highway towards a town we know all too well.

A smaller city than that of Vlad. A city that has seen us through anxiousness, excitement, pain and sorrow and now joy.

Such joy.

As we neared the city, I could feel the butterflies beginning to flutter. It had been five months.

Would she remember us? Would she like us still? Would she be frightened or happy?

As we wove in and out of the different streets to arrive at her orphanage, the familiar houses and shops appeared. The different buildings. Some I noticed had been newly painted, others still looking as though they were about to crumble.

The laundry hanging out on the line to dry. Dryers aren’t common, so we’ve heard.

I wanted to soak up as much as I was able. Try to capture it all to my memory as best I could. For her.

To remember the smells and sounds and images. To be able to relay it to her when we talked about it throughout her life.

I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing a memory for her.

I like the smaller city she is in. A little quieter and less congested than Vlad.

We turned the corner and suddenly we were there.

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We walked in and were directed towards the sofa in what seemed the foyer area. A sectional of sorts and a large area rug and with a nice table in the middle of it. Almost like an entrance table in the middle of the room. The room is painted a peach type color. There are walls along the sides of the stairs we face that are painted a bright teal color. They lead up to where Sunshine is staying.

A young boy, around Jake’s age comes down and is asked to go get Sunshine for us. He kindly goes up and gets her and a caregiver brings her down the stairs to us.

She seems so tiny coming down those big steps.

She is shy and barely peaks her head up to see us.

They tell us she has been waiting for us after her nap. We had been stuck in some traffic and are later than we planned.

Had she been waiting long? I wonder if she thought we might not come. It had been five months after all.

She came right to me and snuggled up on my lap. She does not like to be the center of attention. I don’t blame her.

We pull out some toys and the coloring books we brought the last time. She obviously remembered them. Especially the magnetic ballerina doll with all it’s pretty dresses and shoes. Her face lit up when she saw it.

She also remembered the finger puppets and played with them. She smiled.

::oh those dimples!::

We played and talked to the caregivers and others there.

We were given updates and such. Being prepared for court.

We spent a couple hours and then it was time to leave. I didn’t want to let go…..I cannot wait until I never have to leave her again.

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And now it’s three years later! How much my little girl has grown and changed and overcome since that day. I love you Sunshine. You are amazing.

I Can Do Hard Things

I can do hard things.

That has been my motto this year. Really, since my pregnancy and having the twins.

{and before that with completing our adoption…}

There have been days, especially in the early weeks and months of flat out exhaustion, that I had to just get up and keep moving.

This month I also chose to do something hard. Blogging for 31 days. Granted, I’ve missed a few days, but it was deciding to do it that was the hard part.

Okay, terrifying part.

To be very honest, when I first read about it, I didn’t think I could do it. But then my heart started racing and I just jumped in.

I’ve also been following along with other bloggers that took the challenge as well, and I’ve learned a lot from them and about them. It’s been pretty awesome.

But, this is hard. Yet, I also love it. I love writing and blogging…it’s therapy for me.

And every time an idea pops into my head and I get it all typed out and ready to hit publish….my heart begins to race.

Because I’m purposely choosing to be vulnerable. And that is hard.

I’m putting myself and my words out there for others to read and comment on.

I’ve enjoyed this challenge. I didn’t think I could do it. But here we are, winding down to the last few days of the challenge…and I’m still going. And I plan to keep going.

{Tomorrow I will actually be sharing a little more about our adoption and a post I wrote three years ago. It’s a little bit of a stray away from what I’ve been sharing and blogging about this month, but it’s important. This is a big week for our family. I hope you will join me in my sharing and take a trip with me in remembering….}

Are You A Mama Bear?

If one was to ask how I would describe myself, I would have to say I am a recovering people pleaser, turned unapologetic mama bear.

Adoption has changed me.

It took almost three years to complete our adoption, and it wasn’t without some gutting hurdles and was an insane emotional roller coaster at times.

And the three years since completing our adoption, I have learned to be an advocate for my daughter.

There are many things you learn about in the adoption process. Many classes, many books, lots of chatting with other adoptive parents…

But, in all of that, nothing truly prepared me for what it was really going to be like. Just like all the books in the world of “what to expect” when you’re pregnant, cannot truly prepare you for motherhood.

Each mother and child and childbirth and adoption process is different.

I became a different person through our adoption process. And I have continued to change as I have gone from being the mother of one to the mother of four.

When my daughter has a meltdown in public, I no longer wonder what other people think. I don’t apologize to strangers for my children’s behavior.

They don’t know me. They don’t know my children. They have no idea why one or more of my children might be having a crying fit in the middle of the store.

And it’s not my job to inform them or apologize for it. So…strangers, stop staring. And stop judging. You have no idea the story behind a family you might see.

It would be nice if more people could be understanding….but, I’m not going to hold my breath.

I think in many ways, being the mama of a special needs child has toughened me up a bit. It’s been a process, and I’m definitely a continuing work in progress, but it has indeed changed me.

And I’m OK with that. Because not only has it given me a bit thicker and tougher outer skin, it’s also softened my heart and made me more aware of other mamas that might be dealing with something similar.

I have more empathy for the families out there that are simply trying to survive the day and, unfortunately, they are dealing with an epic meltdown in the middle of the store, or parking lot, or church service and they are just trying to do their best. And people staring or murmuring comments {by the way, we CAN hear you more often than not} don’t help.

So, yes. There is still that people pleaser deep down, but the Mama Bear in me is much stronger. And I love my children with a fierceness I never knew existed within me…..

Until I became a parent. And then a parent again of a special needs child. And then the parent of my twin babies.

Oh yes, I am a Mama Bear.

 

 

 

 

On Being The Mama of ONE or Many…

Recently, I’ve been able to connect with other mamas like me….mothers of 3 plus kiddos.

And it’s been great.

I find myself in a different place in motherhood than I once was, and I love being able to connect with other mamas that “get it”.

But, in finding myself in these new places and people I am meeting, I am reminded about something…..something that has been on my mind and heart for sometime.

You see….I used to be a mother of a singleton only child for eight years.

When I would meet or encounter another mama with several kiddos, or {gasp} a group of mothers with several kiddos, I always, always, felt out of place. Like the odd one out and most definitely the one that didn’t “get it”. Or so I perceived these other mamas to look or think of me that way.

They might not have. Or even intended to imply that….but I felt it.

I felt it every time I got asked “how many kids do you have?”, or got the response of “oh, you ONLY have ONE?”. I remember feeling like I could never have a bad day or a frustrating day and I certainly could never ever share it with a group of moms that looked at me like I had three heads for saying so.

Because, I only had ONE child….how hard could it possibly BE for me???

And if I did share, I pretty much always would get the “one up” response. Because having one child couldn’t possibly be like the person with 3 boys, or 5 kids, or 2 or….

But now? I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I have 4 kiddos. And they range in age from 11yrs-1yr. And all this also happened in less than two years. I went from a singleton only mama, to the mother of two when we brought home our second child through adoption. I then had an 8 yr old and a 4 yr old.

From the outside and those that didn’t know us as an “adoptive family”, we seemed like the typical family of 4.

Then the unexpected surprise that we were expecting TWINS happened.

I know.

And suddenly, I find myself fitting into the mommy circles of 4 or more kiddos and when I meet a mommy of one or two, I once again feel out of place because of the looks of “wow. you have your hands full!”.

Yes, I do.

But, here is what I have to say about this. How I really, truly feel about whether you are a mother of 4 or more, or one.

It. Is. Hard.

If you happen to by a mommy of one precious kiddo….don’t devalue your parenting. Just don’t do that to yourself.

There are going to be hard days. And this is new for you and your child….each phase is. And it is OK to have hard days. I know and I’ve been there.

Because this is all you know. And when my oldest, and for eight years only child, was a baby and my husband had a long work commute AND was getting his masters degree…there were many, many long days and nights. And I was brand new at this whole mom thing.

One day, I think he was around 4-ish months old and we were both having a hard day…..I looked at him, us both crying, and said “I know. I know you are new at this whole being a baby thing. And I am new at this whole being a mom thing…..let’s give each other a little grace okay?”.

Because reality was, I had no freaking clue what I was doing.

I had hard days. And if you are a new mama of one, it’s OK to have those. And it’s OK to say something. I won’t look at you like you have three heads. Promise.

I might hug you though. And offer you a coffee.

And if you are a mother of one who’s child very precious only child just started pre-school or kindergarten….it’s OK to cry big, huge tears. And yes, it does feel differently when those firsts are also lasts.

Ironically, I’ve done that twice already. Each time not knowing there was going to be a next. And I will do it a third time with my twin babies.

{but I cannot talk about that too much or I will CRY}

And for those mamas of us out there with 2 or 3 or 4 or more….let’s give those mamas of one kiddo some encouragement. We all have hard days and sometimes we just need a little dose of encouragement.

Individual Moments

Even now, just being a little over one year, I can see my twin babies need for individual attention.

They push for it…like each other out of the way….to get to me first. To get that individual attention they so crave.

Even before five months of age, one would wake early from their morning nap and one in the afternoon nap, knowing they could get a solid thirty minutes of just mama time all to themselves.

It truly sends it home for me and served as a reminder of just how important that individual attention is for each of my kiddos.

My Sunshine girl will often just want to snuggle and “give a hug”, or play legos together. Just she and mama.

My littlest little has now completely dropped her morning nap and will spend her time toddling about with me, while her brother sleeps…

{or I take them out for a stroll or bike ride…she will chat away to me in her baby babble while I bike}

My oldest probably has had the biggest transition and adjustment to getting one on one time with me in the past 3 years. He went from being an only child for 8 years, to being the oldest of FOUR. Talk about rocking his world!

But, it was so awesome this past week for he and I to get to do an art project for an upcoming school fundraiser together. The morning of I reminded him I’d meet him at school for our “date”. I loved hearing the excitement in his voice as he told “bye” before heading off to school.

I could tell the time was much needed for him. And me! As he is growing and changing, so is our relationship.

We got to talk, just he and I, as we walked home together from our event. It was good for both our souls.

It’s not easy dividing my time between my 4 kiddos. I sometimes feel stretched and that there isn’t enough of me for all of them.

I struggle sometimes trying to make it all work. But I also see and know the value of making sure to carve out that time for each of them.

Whether it’s art projects and walking home together, putting a puzzle together, or simply reading a board book 67 times in a row, hands free, to my littlest littles.

It’s all important. THEY are important.

 

 

The Countdown To Bedtime

There are definitely days that bedtime cannot get here soon enough.

But then there are other days where I’m counting down to nap time.

Those days where shoes have been put on and taken off about a dozen times {per baby…and there’s TWO}, clothes on, taken off, shoving, fussing, one throwing food, the other gobbling it all down.

Then, you remember the laundry you put in….last night.

There’s been plenty of clingy and tiredness, but not quite enough to take a morning nap any longer. Well, one baby will, but the other not so much.

I mean, mama better not even THINK about leaving the play yard to do ANYTHING. Not today.

One of those days my morning coffee is sitting still half full on the kitchen table….and no future plans of it being finished.

Yes, counting down to nap time. So I can breathe. Because all this is all before NOON. I still have the afternoon and the big kids getting home from school and therapy for my oldest daughter and a library run….

I’m thankful dinner is leftovers tonight. I try to make sure that is happening on most Thursdays. The day before the eve of the weekend {which, lets face it…the weekend can be crazier than the weekdays!}, but by Thursday I am wearing down pretty fast. Leftovers makes it SO much easier.

So, yes, counting down the minutes. Hoping both babies will take a nap…even just a thirty minute one would suffice today. Long enough to get my feet up and breathe.

I feel the need to text my husband the words “I need to check out for a little while”. He knows that means mama needs a break. It usually means him taking care of the 4 kiddos, bed time routine and all, so mama can decompress.

But then that guilty feeling starts to creep in….

You know the one. The one where you know you really need 20 minutes to yourself so that you can refresh and be a better mama and wife, but where you think, but they NEED me…I will hear my babies crying and calling for me. And my oldest two will want hugs and…

And then I feel silly for even wanting that 20minutes {okay, I’d really like 2 hours} to just relax and refresh.

But then reality hits and it makes me realize just how important it is for us mamas to have a little down time. I don’t give myself downtime enough, honestly. But I know I need it.

I need it so that I CAN be the mama my kids need. Not the stressed out scary mommy that will emerge if I don’t. I need it so that I CAN be the wife my husband needs.

I know it’s important, but it usually takes me saying “honey, I need to check out for a little while” for both my husband and I to realize…THIS needs to happen more often. We’re working on that. It’s definitely a work in progress.

But, I really do believe it’s so important for us mamas to get refreshed. Right now in this season of my life, it’s definitely not easy to come by. I know it will get easier. I know that at some point I can plan to get up an hour earlier than my children and that it won’t have to be 3am to do so….

But right now, it’s not. Naptime is pretty much where it’s at. And I know that is definitely on borrowed time.

Speaking of….both babies are currently sleeping. So it means this mama is going to go have some lovely iced coffee on the front porch….

 

Pantry Blogging…

I’m blogging from the pantry….

Yes. I am.

It’s been one of those days.

One of those days that I am so tired, I stumbled into the kitchen to make my coffee and barely remembered to put a mug under the spout dealy {whatever it’s called} on the keurig.

I clearly needed that coffee.

You know, one of those days that you are so thankful for all the beeps and buzzers of all the many different amazing machines like ovens and dishwashers and washing machines….

Because without them, you’d forget that you were baking, washing dishes and that the cloth diapers were finished.

One of those days that your tiny tots are clingy and needy and no one slept well and you are so tired that you told your oldest daughter to “put her door by the front shoes”

Yeah.

So, I have a quick moment. A break….to go grab the diapers out of the wash {yes I’m crazy and cloth diaper TWINS!}. And on the way in here I grabbed my computer and am attempting a quick and completely random blog post.

{Shhh. They all think I’m doing chores. Let’s let them continue to think that…}

Meanwhile…I am going to finish this cup of coffee, hit publish and get back to….uh….whatever it was I was going to do because whatever buzzer bell thing went off.

 

How’s your day going? Do you ever hide in the pantry {or closet or bathroom} to escape the chaos for a brief moment?

Nap? What Nap?

It seems everyone is changing up the schedule around here.

Both babies have been toying with which nap to drop for several weeks. Last week, they both decided to pretty consistently drop one nap.

But neither dropped the same one.

WHA??

Yeah. And then the cat is sleeping in the oddest of places. Then again, I realized he really just trying to maximize the sunning opportunities since the weather has gotten slightly (and I mean very slightly) cooler. You’d think it was freezing, but really we’ve just been enjoying 70’s and 80’s, which around here, is definitely cooler than the summer time temps.

However, all this sleeping and not sleeping and tripping over the cat has kinda messed me up a bit!

I’m floundering around trying to figure out my new normal (which, lets face it, will change the very second I even THINK I’ve got it figured out…) and wondering if this new nap time thing is going to work or not.

And by that I mean I decided to take the babies out for a bike ride in the bike trailer (or sometimes in the jogging stroller to take a brisk walk around the neighborhood) in the morning when only ONE baby wants to nap, but the other would rather toddle about, resulting is waking her brother up and then NOTHING gets accomplished.

SO, outside we go. One twin baby will typically fall asleep and sometimes the other will too. And I get a nice little workout in.

I get absolutely nothing else accomplished like chores or blogging or baking, but hey! Babies happy, mama happy she got a workout in. I say it’s a win/win situation.

We normally get back in time for a slightly earlier lunch than they were having, but it seems to be working out. After lunch, they are BOTH ready for a nap.

Now, to see how long this lasts…..

 

Will These Words Matter?

It seems when I overthink blogging I just get stuck.

And then there are other times when I have minimal time to blog ANYTHING at all and it just flows out of me.

It can be at the end of a busy day or in the middle of it and I think of something to blog about of the days events.

Then I wonder if my words even matter.

Will anyone even read this or care about these words? Do these words matter?

I think this blogging for 31 days is good practice for me. Just showing up and writing. Writing anything at all, whether or not anyone will actually read it. Not writing FOR anyone, but simply sharing my thoughts. Finding my voice.

Will they matter, these words I’m pouring out? I don’t know. Will they resonate with someone somewhere? Maybe so.

I’d be lying if I said I did’t care. Because I do hope they matter. I hope that maybe in some small way, they make someone somewhere smile or have a better day. That they know they aren’t alone in their parenting craziness…that the newborn weariness will eventually pass and you will indeed get more than 2 hours of sleep.

That a newly adoptive mama that might be struggling to bond can read that someone else has had that struggle too. That it’s not always sunshine and rainbows and it definitely NOT perfect. That there are going to be hard days, and it’s OKAY. There are also amazing joyful days too.

So, here I am. Still blogging along with the 31 Days. And STILL trying to finish that hot cup of coffee….

{maybe I should switch to iced…}