Sunday, January 31, 2010

Collateral Benefits

Phew.....its been a busy week, but then again they all seem to be lately! :) Did I really imagine that Winter would usher in a period of calm and tranquility? LOL Oh, the beauty of blissful ignorance. ;)~

Yes, its been busy almost to the point of hectic, but then again I probably wouldn't have it any other way. And its ironic as this past weekend was actually fairly low key and packed with plenty O' quality time with family. I had hoped to blog earlier in the weekend but found myself unable (or unwilling ) to break the spell of the weekend peace & precious family time.

Now I sit, with both angels slumbering, reflecting back on this past week and I'm once again struck by something I have often chatted about on this forum ~ collateral benefits. Well, maybe not in so many words, but in essence its the often surprising and unexpected friendships and connections that spring from our status as an adoptive family. Many times I have expounded gratefully on the fabulous folks I have "met" through my Yah** group and of course the many amazing blogs & blog authors I follow along with. I'm struck time & again by the sheer beauty of each family and the immense talent I see tucked between the lines, sentiments, photos and archives of fellow bloggers(AP's or not). Often its the comments I receive from others that have given me the boost and/or courage needed to continue with my own blog..........

And through the many years since Lauren's homecoming there have been numerous instances of lasting friendships forged simply because we shared this adoptive connection with another; simply because we walked a path similar to another and found in each others' footsteps a commonality of shared experiences, hopes, dreams & faith tested.....and rewarded.


This past week we had an opportunity to plan play dates with 2 beautiful babes born overseas ~ a treat for both Tyler and I! The first was with a darling little man adopted last Spring from S. Korea. We first met Baby I and his Mama in summer story time hosted at our local library and we all hit it off immediately. "I"is just one month older than Tyler and is a first baby for his lucky folks! Our story times continued and our boys keep growing ~ and its humbling and exciting to watch this friendship unfold; and a bit awesome that our paths crossed all those months ago.....two Mamas of baby boys, brought home from the other side of the world, who just happened into the same library program on a random Monday in June..........amazing really.

Also this week we were blessed to meet with Andrea and the beautiful "Baby W" a fellow Taiwan adoptive Mama and a family that lives near our area. She is also active on our Yah** board, or was way back when before the demands of two chickadees kept her hopping in the best of ways! W has THE most enchanting eyes and the sweetest little disposition....and her Mama has to be one of THE very nicest gals I have ever met. We hope to plan future play dates and what a wonderful connection for us all.

AND yes, there are a few photos, but masterpieces they are not! LOL The children are masterpieces certainly but catching active toddlers on film & doing it well???......well, that's just outside the scoop of my abilities! But I hope they will show first hand the blessings these collateral threads have brought our family and continue to bring........we are so thankful to be part of this amazing community of families!


Look at these 3 amigos(Elmo too!).......and NO its not easy to get two wee boys to sit much less look at the camera at the same time! LOL At least Elmo was a good sport! ;)

I actually luv this shot as it showed their cooperative play. Tyler did "okay" sharing his things(its a long process, that sharing process) but given that this age is more about "parallel play" I felt lucky to catch this shared moment. Naturally two boys bonding over cars.
And then....play date with a pretty lady!

I caught too much flash on Tyler's face.....but I'm smiling big here cuz look how happy he was to play with "W". And yup, he WAS on his way off that chair....LOL....and she was working hard at getting that boot off! LOL


Sitting pretty ................ W's Mama told me this is her "say cheese" smile these days. giggle....Isn't she sweet as sugar? Oh, and Tyler is 8 months or so younger but yup, he's that much bigger! What a big boy and oh yes, he relishes practicing his charms on a beautiful lady!


And yes, Lauren's been having some play dates too in between school, basketball & more..............this is one of her best buddies from school.
And finally(below) & totally off topic....... these past few months Lauren has been teaching Tyler how to "really" play hide-n-go seek........he's doing well, though his joyful giggles usually give him right away! :) I just couldn't help myself with this one.......its so perfect to catch a little man who believes that he is in fact well concealed simply because he can't see us! What a hoot!
Can you see him trying to suppress his own glee and laughter?? I just love it...and when I play and catch him, he squeals with delight and hollers out, "me me me" and barrels right into my legs for a big ole bear hug!

And 'lookie' who else plays along? *grin* Yup, she imagines herself well hidden too......so long as she can't see us, then we can't see her.....right?? But the whole time ~ the whole time, that furry little tail just wags with eagerness.
Hope you all had a grand weekend and a wonderful week ahead! Its almost Monday.....manic Monday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Black & White Wednesday

Fellow blogger, friend and inspiration, Wanda discovered Black & White Wednesday at Lisa's stunning blog, The Long Road to China a few weeks back. The concept behind it is brilliant as it invites photographers from across the spectrum ( meaning amateur newbies like me who just like to snap pics. of their munchkins and wish to learn more about photography ~ to professional photographers and everyone in between too! ) to share photos in black & white collectively.

For Lisa it was a way to beat the Winter doldrums and while we here are still relishing the white stuff and the new activities it yields, it IS true that I seem to take fewer photos as we spend much more of our time now indoors! I so miss our sunny days of basking ( er...racing after two active kids!) and I haven't felt a warm breeze on my face in oh so long now! But when I began peeking back into my photo archives it was like reliving those days of summer gone and just plain fun to glance back too! Time marches on swiftly but the moments we capture on film and in our hearts remain forever.

Please consider adding your thoughts and photos to this weekly Wednesday project and join in the fun! I may not be able to contribute each week, but I hope to as often as possible.

Below are a few photos from the summer a year ago ~ I'm calling this first series: Simply Summer with Lauren

Above: This one caught my eye then and now as it captures her sweet innocence yet reminds me (gasp) of the bride she will one day be..........which of course I'm SO NOT ready for!! lol

Below: The next 2 were taken in downtown Chicago: the first is Lauren playing in the fountains near Old Navy Pier and the second is her relaxing on what is fondly dubbed "the Bean" at Millennium Park. I think she was wore out in the 2nd one, but its a true emotion captured from that day! :)



And finally.....I can almost smell the blossoms Lauren is sniffing in Mimi O's pretty Springtime backyard.

Want to see more contributions by other's? Dash over to Lisa's, blog:
www.thelongroadtochina.blogspot.com for truly breathtaking photography AND peek at my friend Wanda's gorgeous girls & photos at her site: www.atlastmilanascominhome.blogspot.com ( or click on my blog roll)

Thanks for stopping by & taking a peek with me!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Decades

In my early 20's I graduated from college. I became a young adult, a bride and a wife. I witnessed with a certain sadness the ending of a few childhood friendships & whims while at the same time celebrated new relationships, passions, hobbies, ideals & goals. I became friends ( real friends) with my Sister and along the way I discovered the incredible gift of being an Aunt.

In my 20's I discovered politics, corporate America & built a first home. I began one career and then through a twist of fate found another. I returned to school for a Masters' Degree and upon graduation found a calling ~ teaching.

In my mid to late 20's, my Mama's heart began beating louder and my (our) attentions turned to children. What a journey it was to be!

In my 20's I began to truly understand unconditional love and humility. In my 20's I discovered that yes, "Mom does know best". Or at least my Mom does. :)

And later...........

In my 30's I settled into a routine, only to watch it shaken and stirred time & again.

In my early 30's I finally became a Mama. Oh, glory be ~ a baby girl waited us in Kazakhstan! I cast down everything I knew and together with Scott embarked on a 3 week sojourn around the world to find our daughter ~ our beautiful Lauren. In my 30's I discovered that true love can be found in one tiny perfect being & that surrendering to that love is the most empowering emotion in the world. The most basic of instincts........

In my 30's I left a profession that I cherished, knowing well the greater reward that awaited ~ knowing the privilege I was given with that choice. I became a stay at home Mama with all of its challenges and joys!

In my 30's I found my Mama's voice but also learned to listen....... to really listen to a child's' sweet laughter & whispers ~ to their fears and their dreams. I found I could discern a frustrated cry from a true hurt and could identify which coughs would lead to a restless night or fade away in a day. I found my joys in the small moments.........in the little details that make up a day.

In my mid 30's I could no longer deny the stirrings in my heart for baby #2; for I knew well that a leap of faith was not necessary but a steady hand and heart were indispensable. Of course my heart still shattered with joy, love & vulnerability at the sight of our little man and it was then that I remembered & better understood the lessons of unconditional love & humility inherited from my 20's. A new country, a new program......a family of 3 becoming 4.

In my 30's I learned that indeed you can have more than 1 miracle and that the heart can expand to equally cherish and adore another. That Mama's lap can safely hold 2 babies and that sometimes the laundry just has to wait!

In my 30's I stood on the soil of 2 beautiful foreign lands that are forever etched in my soul, mind & heart. Forever part of me.......forever part of our family.


TODAY is my birthday and I am turning 40. A new decade unfolding............

Yesterday I joked that I would forever more be celebrating my "39th" birthday. But today I feel invigorated. Today I dared to peek in the mirror and the face looking back was actually smiling! Today has been a wonderful day! I even had breakfast in bed compliments of sweet Lauren ~ dry cereal has never tasted so yummy! :)

And I can't help but to wonder about the years to come and anticipate the joys, struggles and adventures ahead.

In my 40's I will awake one morning and find that my best girl has become a tween and later still a teenager! *gasp* She will *gulp* one day drive a car, undoubtedly begin dating ( well maybe in my late late 40's....lol...) attend slumber parties, summer camps & find new boundaries to test( I'm sure). Our precious baby boy will ride a tricycle & then a bike! He will start school, tackle projects, climb trees and join a sports team or 2. He will discover life beyond Mama & home.*sniffle* Both will have new friendships, suffer disappointments & celebrate triumphs. They will grow and change, discovering new things about themselves and the world around them. And in so many ways, I will too!

God willing, both will continue to spread their wings, reach for their dreams, thrive and blossom ~ always knowing how very proud of them I am! How lucky I am to be their Mama!

So..... in my 40's and throughout it all (and as each year passes marked by another birthday) I will continue to peek at that mirror and smile (no matter how many gray hairs I find! Ack!) ~ for I know well that my 2 greatest gifts have already been received and they are magnificant to behold at any time and in any decade. My Lauren & Tyler............my 2 answered prayers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Look Back

Yesterday we had our final post placement visit with our Social Worker and certainly it brought to the forefront of our minds the full circle our family has made. Our SW has always been rather taken with Tyler and he in turn never misses an opportunity to showcase his many charms on a lady! :) In so many ways, its difficult to imagine our lives now without this bundle of amazement, yet yesterday's visit is tangible proof that our journey to Tyler began well over 2 years ago ~ and along the way it was marked with many twists, curves, unexpected hurdles and ultimately one of the two greatest joys of our lives. Amazing......

AND as we are approaching our one year anniversary of bringing this little wonder home, I thought it might be fun to share a sampling of the photos that we were taken of him on the disposable cameras we sent ahead in care packages and prior to our travels. The quality is just okay ~ I mean they were disposables :) and the quality suffers a bit more with scanning and uploading, BUT we treasure them so much as they offer a glimpse into the months we waited to bring him home(and missed sharing with him)........they are vital threads of his life and time in Taiwan ~ sneak peeks into his "everyday" while in his birth country. Priceless!

We believe these were taken in clusters and when he was around 5 and 6 months old. I love that many of them show him smiling up at someone who I know in my heart must have been his loving Foster Mom ~ two of the photos we received (but not shown) have glimpses of her kneeling near him, to the side of the frame, ever vigilant & close by. The stroller photos remind us of the daily walks he took with her and we know how he loved and continues to adore those outings!

AND if you make it through this nostalgic peek back, I added the final update video we received of Tyler in January of last year. At that time we knew we were close to travel (February) and still to this day it remains one of my favorites and the one I simply cannot sit through without a tear or two!

In the weeks to come as we approach our family milestone, I'm sure I will be spending as much time looking back as I am looking forward and I thank you all for coming along on the ride with me! I think I'm in VERY good company! :)

In his Baby's First Christmas Outfit..........I love this photo.
*grin* Daddy cringes at his boy sporting Mary Janes......LOL

Oh, he loved that "paci", but once home he rarely used it ever again!


Well, I might cry too with beads on my head! Ohhhhh......

I know and LOVE that mischevious grin!

All ready to go!

Such a happy boy....then & now! Oh, there's his Christmas teddy bear too!

Just hanging out with my buds!



This can only be his........I've had my bottle and I'm full and content......face.



Our precious boy........


I know a bit about this face too..........sometimes it means....."no more pictures please". :)

video

Oh my goodness...I just remember thinking last year while watching this (and its SO clear it feels like yesterday)......we are coming baby boy.....we are coming!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day!

Today was like an unexpected gift that arrives on your doorstep weeks after the holidays...........

Today was a snow day for both Lauren & Scott and while it brought plenty O' the white stuff, it also afforded us a brief respite from the Arctic blast that has gripped our region all of this past week!

Today we set aside our ongoing projects, both large & small ( for at least a bit) while we all tumbled outside and into the backyard for some winter play!

Today our girl played outside with one, both or all of us for close to 3 hours and later helped Mama make a homemade pizza for supper!

Today baby T plunged face first into the snow ( most unexpectedly! ), rolled to the side and got right back up for more! What a brave boy!

Today was pure bliss, packaged tidily in a crisp white blanket of snow.

& Tomorrow???? Well.....its FRIDAY, so anything is possible!! :)

Wishing you all moments of spontaneous play & unexpected "gifts" on your doorsteps!





I love both of their expressions ~ Lauren loves to pull Tyler and Tyler clearly loves to be pulled by his big Sis ~ and he's clapping for her in this pic! :)

Do you all remember catching snowflakes with your tongue as kids?

Even big girls need a break............being pulled along by Daddy!
And a bit later, after Daddy & Lauren left for their nature walk ~ Tyler discovered the red shovel and Mama took a few more photos!


Trying soooooooooooo hard here..........quickly he discovers its simply impossible to hold the handle with his mittens on! OH, the frustration!!
Victory at last ~ utter glee at his accomplishment! Cold hands???......who me?? PA -Shaw!
Wow, how much more snow will we get?
A foot of snow?.......no problem for me! I laugh in the face of manual labor...........

Hmmmm? Maybe I should have held out for a management position.............
BREAK TIME!!.............well, at least there are perks with this gig!
And Finally,
Please Daddy, just one more time around the block? (If you look really really close, you can see they are both giggling and grinning from ear to ear!)
P.S. Gracious, just realized this is my first post of the new year! Its been so busy as we ready our home to go on the market in the next month or so! Next week we have a potential buyer coming to take a tour ~ a family member of one of our neighbors. Fingers crossed, as we fully expect this to be a long process given the current (real estate) market & economy.....
AND one year ago today we received word of our Final Ruling as issued by the Taiwan court system ~ making it official what we had already known in our hearts; that Tyler Pei-En was legally & so completely our precious son. & while it would be another 33 days before we held him in our arms, it was, in every way possible, a joyous and memorable day. Both then & now.......