Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Other Mommy

This is so beautifully written.  I know we are a ways off until Ashton understands that she is blessed with 2 mothers... but posts like this show that this milestone isn't to be feared.  

I pray I have the same grace and wisdom to handle this discussion when in comes.

http://ajourneynotmyown.com/2014/02/the-other-mommy/

Or read below:

When my boys were little, I use to worry about handling them as teenagers. I hoped this….I wished that…

A wise woman told me not to worry about those days ahead. When I got there they would not be as tumultuous as I expected. The same grace that God gave me in the present, would be waiting for me there, in their teen years, when we arrived. God’s grace, she said, is given in daily doses. She shared with me that I feared the days ahead because I did not yet have the grace I needed to live them. I only had the grace of the moment.

Here we are, many years after that advice, our boys 18 and 15, and you know what?

She was right.

When Hope came into our lives, there was a day I fretted about with her as well. It wasn’t her teen years.

It was the day she would finally know that she had another Mommy.

I’ve never experienced jealousy towards her birth mother. Perhaps my time in China prior to Hope’s arrival, working with oppressed women there, gave me a compassion that united me to them rather than divided me from them. I’ve always felt a pain in my heart for the pain in her birth mother’s heart at the reality of having to give up a child. No matter the reason, whether it was purposeful because she was a girl or not purposeful because Hope was dying of heart failure and she could never provide the care she needed, a mother still had to lay the child she carried in her womb, delivered, held and nursed at the gate of an orphanage- and walk away. Forever. Never knowing what would become of her.

You don’t dislike someone who walks in shoes that you could never wear. You respect them for doing their best with a tragic situation. Even if their best is one that has left heartache in its wake. All you can do is respect it and honor it. Casting doubt and negative feelings on her mother and her father’s choice, doesn’t help anyone heal. Especially my daughter. And the fact is in the end, we just don’t know why Hope had to leave their lives.

Late last year, Hope began to struggle emotionally a bit. I could tell something was amiss in her heart. God has always been faithful to nudge my heart many times when my kids are struggling. I knew her struggles were China-related. In other words, she was struggling with something in regards to her story.

Now in preschool, and quite a smart little cookie, she can see the Mommies with growing bellies. She sees them come strolling in one day with a baby in a stroller and no big tummy anymore. She sees friends who get brothers and sisters from their Mommy’s bellies. She ponders this. She wonders. She gives it the old college try and asks me if she came from my tummy. I start with the simple answers- “You didn’t come from my tummy, you came from my heart.” She doesn’t ask more for a while. Then another day comes and she wants to know where she was born and I tell her China (which she knows). She asks why God wanted her born in China and not here. I tell her I don’t know but He decides where we are born and I’m so glad He let us come to China and give her a home and a family. She says she’s glad too.

Days and weeks pass. I’m thinking about how we are getting really close to “the tummy mommy talk”. I strategize what to say and don’t come up with much. Such a huge concept for such a little girl. I grieve a bit that my sweet one has to mull such grown-up scenarios in her head and her heart. I press on, wanting to be prepared. We await her questions that demand answers like awaiting the birth of a child. “We’re getting close”, I tell my husband. “It will be soon that she asks.”, preparing him and myself too. I pray real hard, ask God to just give me the words to say when the point of no return arrives. He does.

Rather than her hearing it from someone else, knowing that she knows we are different and don’t look alike, believing that she already knows in her heart there is another, I take the plunge.

I free-fall into God’s grace, His grace in the present, in the moment.

I sit down with a book about families created through adoption, with a story line that includes discussion of the tummy mommy (A Family for Eve by Kristan Keefe Struck). Right before I open the pages to read, it is as if time stands still. At the beginning of this book, I am still the only Mommy she is 100% aware of. When I close this book, I will begin a new journey. A journey of shared motherhood and it will last the rest of our lives together. The air I breathe in, heart beating out of my chest, is pregnant with emotion, fear and doubt. My desire to live in absolute truth and to be the one who guides my daughter’s perceptions of her past pushes me forward. It’s not about me, it’s about her. I read it and the life-long discussion begins.

Fast forward several months to today. Getting ready for preschool she is eating breakfast, getting dressed in front of the TV watching Dora or so I thought. Then I hear, well, I hear a documentary playing. “She must have pushed that button on the Roku by mistake.”, I guessed. A few minutes later Hope walks in and says, “Mommy. When Katie Joy comes home she needs to watch this China movie.” (Katie Joy is the name we have given to our next adopted daughter, who we are in process with now.) I realized she was watching a documentary on China, Wild China, that we both love to watch. She exits as quickly as she came.

Then I hear a still, small voice, “She’s looking for her China Mommy.” It dawns on me that the reason she is watching this movie, so out of the blue, so randomly on a Friday morning getting ready for school, is that she is looking in the faces of the women of this movie for- her mother.

She enters again. “I just saw my China Mommy.”

Me: “You did. How do you know it was her?”

Hope: “Because….I remember what she looked like.” In a tone that sounded an awful lot like, “Gee Mom, she WAS my Mother after all.”

Me: “Oh. I see. That’s true. Well, you know what Hope? If I was you, I would be doing the same thing. I would be looking for her face too.”

Again, she exits without a word, returning several minutes later.

Hope, looking a little forlorn: “Mom. I miss my China Mommy.”

And the words I had dreaded, the words I thought would cut me to the heart years ago when I imagined this day, fell on me like sweet honey. There was such a peace to it all, the peace that passes all understanding, especially my understanding. That grace, my wise older woman friend told me that would be here on this day, showed up in boundless, overflowing quantity.

Me: “Hope. I know you miss her. Of ‘course you miss her. It is okay to miss her. I would miss her too. I am so thankful you tell me that you miss her. I am so thankful you share that with me. I want to know when you miss her so I can comfort you and hold you. It does not hurt my feelings when you tell me you miss her. Your heart is SO big. It is big enough for two mommies. It is big enough for your China Mommy and for me. I’m just glad I get to be one of your Mommies.”

And as quick as the conversation came, it went and she began to chatter on about something completely unrelated.

While she was at school, I thought about this new journey she and I are on together. Believing her heart is big enough for both Mommies, yes, but hoping she always feels it is big enough too. But Grace will be there on the days when she isn’t so sure and it will hold us and carry us through to the day when she understands that God made her heart, He healed it once when she was dying on the steps of that orphanage gate and He will heal it again when she deals with all of this one day with Jesus, just the two of them.

I’m pushing her in the swings at the playground after school. Another Mom is next to us doing the same. Hope yells over her shoulder to the other Mom,

“Hey! You know what? My Mom is the best Mom in the whole, wide world.”

And I push her swing, get misty-eyed, and I thank God for the Grace.

For today and the years to come.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happiness in My Arms

Just me and my girl.... and her fox.




Saturday, February 15, 2014

Frozen Birthday

Today was Ms. E's 4th birthday party, Ashton's cousin.

Before going, I tried her in pigtails today and I thought she looked adorable!  I want her in pigtails all the time.


She can be so sweet, but stealing a photo of her can be so hard!

Then we put her in her fur white coat that her LauLau bought her recently.  And with the white boots and pigtails... I could just eat her up!


In her fur white coat... fake of course.

I made sure us white coated girls got a snapshot together!


White coat girls

Then we made our way to the other side of town for Ms. E's birthday.  Ashton was singing happy birthday to her during the car ride over.

The moment we arrived, she got quiet and wouldn't say a word.  She can get so shy.

She had fun with some of the toys.  
Birthday girl with Ashton

She liked this ride

What are the other kids doing?

I love how they're all blurry and she came out in focus.
You can't tell here, but Ms. E's baby sister Ms. M is the same height as Ashton.  Ms. M is about a year younger than Ashton.



It was a Frozen theme birthday.  So there were printouts/homemade colorbook for everyone.  Ashton had fun coloring and collecting everyone's crayons.






She even wore a birthday hat for a few minutes.  



Of course cake was the biggest hit.  Ashton had fun with her cousins.  But I think once it's warmer and she can play for long periods outside with her family and friends, she'll really have a ball.
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Funny, Little Valentine

Today my little girl was wired.  She was full of energy and was go-go-go.  

I tried to get her photo this morning to share, but she wanted up and down the stairs.  This was the best I could get.  


When I picked her up from daycare, there was a long line of cars having trouble leaving the parking lot as it's up a big hill to the street.  It was snowing really fast and hard and everyone was just spinning their wheels and backing up trying to get over the hill.  Luckily, I made it... I waited several car lengths rather than inching and gunned it.  

Once we got home, we saw a package on the front step for Ashton.  It was 3 valentine board books for Valentine's Day.  Ashton loved the books, but my favorite was the Disney's It's a Small World I Love You book.


Then my hubby called, he was stuck in traffic.  It took him several hours to get home, rather than the usual time.  So he got home late.

She was so happy to see him.  He brought her a cute Valentine's Day card.  But she has so much energy, we turned on Mickey's Clubhouse.  And the episode was Simon Says, but Mickey's Says of course.  Ashton loved following along!


She wanted to play it over and over and she'd jump and touch her toes over and over and the splits over and over... though they say touch your toes, not do the splits.  Man is she flexible!  She had a blast.  But of course, didn't tire her at all.

She's such a ham!



i enjoyed spending Valentine's day with my two sweethearts!  I hope Ashton enjoyed her first Valentine's Day.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Amadeus' Check Up and Birthday


Today is Amadeus' Birthday!!  

And what a birthday it is.  Last night he threw up bile a few times and wouldn't eat.  He then asked to go into his crate!  He never has asked for that.  I could tell he was feeling very yucky.  I coaxed him back to the bed and just tried to snuggle with him and pet him lightly to help reassure him that I wanted him to feel better.  All night he slept by my side, and I'd wake every now and then and pet him to reassure him.  I tried feeding him this morning, and he wasn't interested.  So I left him on the bed to snuggle next to Arwen and hoped that when my husband woke up that maybe he'd be more interested then.

Typically, Ami goes with me every morning.  It was sad, especially, on his birthday that he just wanted interested in doing anything.

I think about his battle with cancer everyday.  I worry about if he's feeling well or how he is doing.  He is such a happy and sweet boy.  He's an amazing companion.

Over the weekend Ashton loved getting her head under the blanket I would wrap myself in on the couch.  She wanted us under together and then poke our heads out for a second and hide back inside.  Ami did this with us.  He's so good!

Today was his vet appointment for him.  It's his check up.  He's gone a few months without seeing the vet to see if the cancer is worsening or standing still.

As his appointment was late in the day, I picked up Ashton from daycare and the three of us went together.  Ashton was heartbroken she couldn't ride up front in the car and hold Amadeus.


This is the best photo I got of them together.  He looks huge next to her, but it's deceptive.  She sang happy birthday to him, sort of.  I think she said happy birthday, but named all the animals.

His cancer grew 30% in his neck, but the other spots are still dormant.  His white cell blood count only grew some; so he got released from being seen again for another 3 months.

This is a crummy birthday for him and my heart breaks to see my little boy not feel well.  And worse when you know he's fighting cancer and not feeling well... you wonder in the back of your mind, is this the downturn.  Will things get worse from now on from here.  

I know it's way too early to think such morbid thoughts, and they're not real full thoughts of worry, but tickling sensation of what if... in the back of my mind.  I just love him so much.  I want him to feel no pain and stay as long as he is able.

I know God haw Ami's plan all laid out.  So there is no reason for me to worry.  But to know his bright light will be cut so short... it hurts, none the less.

I can only hope he'll feel better very soon.  In the mean time, I'll take comfort in Ashton's silliness and sweetness.

She was a Daddy's girl most of the weekend. but by the end of last night, she wanted her mama.She lives life to the fullest and enjoys every moment.  She is always laughing and even when she gets sad and her bottom lip juts out, she's still cute as a button.  She is wonderful and I hope I can get her to sing Happy Birthday just to Ami and only Ami today.
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Accumulation of Moments

Ashton with her BFF, Fox.
Ashton cracks me up all the time.  It's a dream come true.  I always wanted a daughter who was full of life, happiness, and silliness abounds.  Life is meant to be fun and goofy and all things wonderful.  And Ashton shows me that all the time.

Sunday, after our two days of celebrating Chinese New Year, we just decided to veg.  And we spent all day together staying warm inside.  We needed the "day off".  Sometime during that day, Ashton discovered Daddy's hat.  And she had a ball putting it on and off, and then putting it on running around then taking it off.  The funny thing is, it's so big, that it covers her whole face... but that didn't stop her from running around!




Tuesday, Ashton was having a fun night bonding with Dawson.  She always loves to be chased.  Heck, the girl loves to run.  And chasing means running.  She's always trying to get the dogs to chase her.  And only if she has food do the follow her.  But she thinks it's always "on" and a hoot.  Of course they're not full out chasing her, but she thinks they are.  Let her imagination go wild.



Daddy taught her a silly dance.  He said she just wiggles about.  I saw a bit of wiggle, but more spinning. Regardless, my girl is dancing!  I love my tiny dancer!




Daddy always loves to be the tickle monster and chase his girl around.  Most of the time Ashton asks for it.  I just love to hear her laugh!  She has this great squeal I can't duplicate.  You can so tell she adores her Daddy!




I read to Ashton all the time, and she reads to me.  It's one of my favorite things to share with her.  One of her favorite stories is "I Love You, Stinky Face".  I read the story to her and on every page I do something with it, a monkey sound, brushing teeth, or blowing kisses.  Ashton loves the interaction with the book.  So I got her to read it to me, with just the interactions... I love it!


I always wonder what amazing feat I did to deserve such an unbelievable child.  She's just so perfect for us and is all I ever dreamed.  Again, yes, exhausting, yes, can frustrate me to no end... but don't the best friends and family do that?  She's the best blessing I've ever had!  And these moments are why.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chinese New Year at the Children's Museum

Saturday, the Children's Museum celebrated Chinese New Year.  We weren't sure what to expect, but we decided to take Ashton down there and celebrate.

I was afraid of her ruining her Chinese silks, so I put her in a onesie and a skirt with Chinese children on it.  She last wore it on her re-adoption day, which also happened to be our 1 year referral anniversary.  So the skirt has seen special moments already.  Only fitting for it to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Ashton would squeal seeing the skirt saying, "China!"  I don't remember if I told her it was a China skirt back over a month ago or not, but I was impressed she recognized it.  I was also thrilled that it seemed special to her.

And for those bargain hunters out there... I found this skirt at a second hand store.  This pattern I've seen make it's way around many outfits via other adoptive families.  This skirt was handmade, which makes it extra special.  Wish I knew its story.  I don't think though I could ever pass it on.  I'm hoping it'll fit a cabbage patch or some toy in the future.

So, we went to the Children's Museum and went to get her name done in Chinese symbols.  While waiting in line we chatted up with other families.  We even ran into a family whose child was also from the CCAI agency.  It was fun to talk to them.

We then went to Chinese paper cutting station... Ashton was too young to cut with scissors so we went to the next station which was the red envelopes and coins... which again had to be cut out.  So we said we'd cut at home and went to the next station.  There we could color and make a shadow puppet.  It was a horse for it is now the year of the horse.  So Ashton colored.


She colored more outside the lines than in... so the horse was done very minimalist style.  But then Daddy cut it out and I tape the stick on.  Ashton carried it around like a prized lollipop.  It was so sweet!

We then went downstairs to see the Chinese dancing.  It was about to start.  We got a good seat on the floor at the edge of the corner.  I then saw a family walk by with a cute little dragon puppet.  I asked where they got it and they pointed to the Children's Museum store.  I promptly went in.  I asked where the puppet dragons were and they led me to the Chinese New Year display... only 3 dragons left.  I bought one right away.

I came back with it and Ashton played with it immediately, without putting down her prized shadow horse puppet.




We named the dragon Long, since long is Chinese for dragon.  I think he's absolutely beautiful!  

Moments later a lady asks my husband if it's okay for her to take photos of our daughter.  He says sure.  She swoops in and starts snapping away.  She then asks me her name and she says it to her camera as it records her voice.  She then tells me it will be up in the Indianapolis Star online that night!

Then the Chinese celebration starts and out comes the dragon dance.  Ashton watched with fascination. 



Then came singers and ancient Chinese musical instruments.  It was a great show.  Ashton would point and sway now and then.  I think she loved the singing and dancing!

Then we had tickets to see Big Bird and Elmo talk about China... half way into it Ashton started fussing.  It was way past her nap time and she needed lunch.  So we left and got her something to eat. 

After that was another Chinese celebration to watch.  As we were getting settled a family came up to us asking where we'd gotten our Chinese dragon puppet.  I pointed to the store saying they only had two left.  The mother went of immediately.  I don't know if she ever got one or not... when we left the museum later I noticed that they were sold out.

This time we sat to the side, closer to the entrance to watch the dances up close.  Bad idea... we were so close to the drums, Ashton would jump.  And the new dragons that came out to dance... she was so scared, she was shaking and finally ran to Daddy to pick her up and hold her.


What our little girl needed was a nap.  She was Chinese New Year'd out!  So we left (after grabbing another fun CNY project we saw on our way) and she was out minutes into the car ride home.

Later that night there were 18 photos posted about the Chinese New Year at the Children's Museum.  Ashton's photo made it in.  This was that photo.


I can't tell you how much I adore her Long puppet.  I wanted him to be on display in her room.  I found a great spot.



The lamp gets turned on by the light switch, so the knob never gets turned on the lamp itself which is perfect to hang a puppet from.  It's also too high for any cats that want to play with it. :)

I love his bells on his ears and all the detail put into him.  His mouth even opens and shuts.  I love how he bobs up and down when he's animated.  I'll have to get video of Ashton playing with him... but Peyton loves him too... so we'll have to be sure she's not in the room when we play with him again.

We now have a few fun projects to give to Ashton, colored paper cutouts, her first red envelope with coins, and a coloring project... all which we can do during this Chinese New Year season... as it runs for 2 weeks!  I'm glad we went and I can't wait for us to celebrate with more coloring and playing with activities through the upcoming days.
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chinese New Year

On Friday, we had Ashton dress up in her Chinese silks for Chinese New Year.  We ordered in Chinese food and had over Ashton's Godparents.

Of course I had to take some photos of her in her traditional Chinese clothes before our celebration started.


Then I got a sill y idea in my head to hand her the fan we bought in China.  How cute would she be if I could get a photo of her holding the fan?

Naturally, she would pose but only if it was in front of her face... and then she started playing with it... so I got these fun photos instead.

You can't see me!

Peek-a-boo!
This is Ashton's version of the fan dance.







Then she did a bit more dancing.  I should have switched to video!  


So, I took the fan away in hopes of one last good non-moving shot.  She gave it to me.


Ashton loved the rice and ate some chicken.  I bought some Chinese almond cookies from Asia Mart to celebrate the new year.  I hoped they'd taste good and not be awful like the mooncakes we got a couple years ago.  I was wrong.  They tasted like cardboard.  Only Ashton seemed to like them.  Oh, well.

The night was fun.  We ate and talked and watched as Ashton would entertain us with her silliness.  It was a fun night!
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