Monday, January 31, 2011

Gifts and frustration (or, another Ethiopian adoption update)

I really hate for my blog to be a downer.


But I need to share our most recent adoption update with you all, and it's not the happiest of news.

And really, who wants a blog filled with unicorns and rainbows where nothing ever goes wrong?

Life just doesn't work that way.  (Well, mine doesn't at least!)

So in case you needed further proof of that, last Friday an email came in from our adoption agency.

"This must be our court date!" I though excitedly. 

Even though something in me was guarded.  Because I know.  I know that nothing is ever simple when it comes to these children who so desperately need homes.  I know that things in Ethiopia are heating up right now, that the US Embassy is launching investigations and taking agencies and families to task in the name of promoting ethical adoptions.  As an adoptive parent and someone who wants to be a good citizen, I understand the reasoning behind all of this.  I truly, truly do.  If you know me then you know ethical adoption is something I'm passionate about. 

Guarded as I was, my heart literally fell when I opened the email to find that our case has been pulled from court...because of a document the embassy is requiring now...that they WEREN'T requiring years (or weeks) ago, when our little one came into care.  It doesn't matter that we were about to get our court date, or that these girls have been waiting seemingly forever for a family.  Our case is stuck until the original orphanage where they lived (not affiliated with our agency) can produce this particular document.


The hardest part I think is just the big, huge unknown.  In my head I know that this paperwork should come through and that it will most likely be resolved.  But, there are no guarantees.  And of course it's out of our hands.

So we're back to waiting, and praying that these girls can come home sooner rather than later. 

Of course, amidst the sadness of this setback, we receieved three beautiful gifts, right when God knew we needed them.

First, a sweet friend emailed me some video she took of M., 4 years old, blowing kisses and waving to us.  SO precious.  We get to hear her sweet voice on the video, and see her sweet smile.  We've watched it countless times already.

AND, someone I haven't met (who happens to be a pediatric physical therapist!), emailed me all about M., because she met her a few months ago.  SUCH positive, wonderful things to hear.  M. is doing well, is being given every opportunity at our agency's transition home, is mainstreamed with the other children and is kicking the soccer ball, walking, everything.  Priceless.

And finally, I receievd an update from our agency saying that T., 20ish months, is crawling now!  (AND sitting on the potty--if this is true, she will be our earliest potty trained kid.)  Woohoo!  Go T.!

It's funny, but I really am not sad about missing these milestones. 

And why is that, you ask? 

See these girls are developing, growing, and living in spite of their difficult circumstances.  They have been living in an orphanage.  With Down syndrome.  So to be honest, I am REJOICING that they are receiving good and loving care, and that they are learning to do all sorts of things in this environment.  It's just my mama's pride.  I'm not there to see it all happening, and oh how I wish I was, but bottom line, I'm just so dang proud of our girls!!!!!

So that's the latest update.  Sad, INCREDIBLY frustrating news in terms of the adoption, but wonderful news about the girls.  They are growing, learning, thriving, and we can still love them from here.  Someday we'll bring them home, and this will all be a distant memory.  In the meantime, we'll be here waiting, and dreaming, and clicking "replay" on Youtube. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday {#19}

1.)  There are a few books I'm dying to read, but the normally-wonderful Denver Public Library system has temporarily stopped doing holds (!) because they're figuring out their new system or something...hurry up DPL!  (We only have a week or so left I think.  Thank goodness!)  Oh and in case you were wondering which books I'm interested in reading, they are: anything by Francis Beckwith (Return to Rome, Politics for Christians, and Defending Life are but a few); Light of the World, essentially an interview with Pope Benedict XVI; Unplanned by Abby Johnson; and Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  So, Denver Public Library, please get back on track soon.  Time's a wastin'!  (Just on the off-chance that a publisher or author of any of the afore-mentioned books is reading this, please feel free to send me a free copy to review here.  I'll say something good about your book.  Promise.)

2.)  I've been trying to get some things organized around here.  I LOVE having a system for everything, and I find it a bit essential with five children.  But it's hard to set up said systems, and even HARDER to KEEP them up.  But yesterday while the big kids were at their homeschool program, I was able to tackle our game shelf, and then last night I did our hall closet.  (These may sound like baby steps, but I feel a HUGE sense of accomplishment, and as if a weight has been lifted off.)  I'm hoping to do some more today, too.  My kitchen cupboards could use an overhaul, the storage area of our basement is completely disastrous, and the bathroom drawers need to be gone through too.  Mary's closet is in desperate need of attention.  And of course our garage is a giant mess.  No shortage of things to do, that's for sure!  But the payoff is SO worth it!

3.)  This weekend and next week are going to be insanely fun and busy.  Eek!  I have something all day tomorrow, we have a friend's 40th birthday party tomorrow night, Sunday afternoon some dear friends are coming over, and Tuesday my sister-in-law is coming to stay.  Lots of good things, but my mind is swimming.  And I need to go grocery shopping.  Bad.

4.)  My all-day thing tomorrow is a local conference.  The main speaker is an author I've read, Kimberly Hahn.  She wrote a great book on homeschooling, and before that wrote some things about marriage and children that helped us process our thoughts once-upon-a-time.  (As in, two years ago or so.  But it FEELS like it was once-upon-a-time.)  We've also read various books by her husband Scott Hahn.  (He won't be there though.  Bummer, because he gets SO fired up about things and I think he'd be interesting to listen to/see.)  ANYway, I'm looking forward to seeing Kimberly and hearing what she has to say.

5.)  So here's the deal about said conference: I'm going alone.  As in, by myself.  As in, I won't know a soul there, except for Kimberly Hahn, but we've never actually met and something tells me she won't want to hang out with me all day.  (Kimberly, if you're reading this, PLEASE be my friend!)  I have NO clue how this is going to turn out.  It could be totally awkward (think me wandering around aimlessly at lunchtime, eventually settling at an empty table where I proceed to eat, while avoiding any sort of eye contact with all of the socially comfortable people eating and talking together at the other tables).  OR it could be (and this is what I'm hoping for) totally fabulous.  I could meet other moms, possibly moms to many, who are on the same journey as me.  And who are friendly.  That would be nice.

6.)  Part of me (yes, I'm still prattling on about the conference) is actually really excited to get out for a day alone, sans kids, to go listen and learn and reflect and maybe meet some new people.  The other part of me is shaking in my proverbial boots.  Let's hope I make it out the door.  Without puking.

7.)  I'm STILL trying to get my act together in the meal planning department.  Why is this so overwhelming for me?  Don't get me wrong, I cook meals for our family,  but I just can't seem to sit down and PLAN.  But I should.  Maybe someday?  Is there any sort of tool (online, or that you can buy) that is helpful for you?

****Do your own 7 Quick Takes, and link to Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Outed (or, in which you get to read my diary)

Enough heavy stuff about kids and life and all that jazz.

It's time for some celebrity gossip.

Wait, huh?

I hate celebrity gossip!

But I'm making an exception.

Because I used to love me some NKOTB.

(That's New Kids on the Block, in case you didn't know (!) )

And I also used to love me some Tiffany.

And I just saw a headline saying she outed Jonathan Knight from NKOTB the other day.

So I HAD to read the article.

Um, awkward!

But fun to read.

And not because I care.

But because it took me back to the late eighties/early nineties.  When I'd go to my friends' house and we three would sit around listening to cassette tapes, painting our toenails and drinking homemade chocolate milkshakes to the sounds of "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Hangin' Tough."  Good times.  Who'dve thunk that Tiffany and Jonathan were dating and that years later she'd be the first to reveal that he's gay?  Ouch!

Poor Jonathan.  Outed after all these years by Tiffany.

You can't say I didn't see it coming though.

Look what I wrote in my diary sometime back in 1990!  (Yes, I still have my old diary.  Just ignore the top line, where I muse about how one of my friends was nicer than one of my other friends, thus she must have been "raised better", and the bottom line, where I reflect that a kid in my class named Breeze was also nice.  Oh, to be nine years old again!)

So you see, I KNEW one of the New Kids was gay.  Even back then.  In the third grade.  Granted, I had the wrong one (sorry Mr. Wahlberg), but still. 

Don't worry.  I'm sure tomorrow I'll be back to posting about the Cold War or something equally intellectually stimulating.

But today it's all about the New Kids on the Block. 

And it's okay, you can admit it:  you're super excited that I let you read my diary. 

Feel free to send me your copy of "Tiger Beat" as a thank you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Sometimes it is seriously hard to come up with something to write about.

Maybe blogging is a good discipline, because it forces you to regularly reflect and put forth thoughts, even when it doesn't come naturally.

OR it's just a really maddening exercise in narcissism and futility.  :)

All of the above, perhaps?


New Year's Eve 2010 marked two years since we lost our (second) baby.  So I've been reflecting a bit on that in recent weeks, and on the miracle of Mary Lu, conceived two weeks after that miscarriage.  It feels extra miraculous because after my first miscarriage in 2004, we did not get pregnant again for a really long time.  Secondary infertility I suppose--although nothing was physically wrong, and I believe God is ultimately in control of these things, so I don't really feel like that is an accurate term.

Then the annual March for Life was a few days ago, coinciding with the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, so I've been reading articles about that.  Some really good, encouraging stuff.

As the result of all of this reflection that I am oh-so-prone-to, this week as I've been putting Mary down for bed at night or for a nap, after telling her I love her, I've also spoken the words "I'm so glad you're here."

And I mean it.  I really am glad she's here.  The same goes for all of my children.  I look at them and think about how positively miraculous and astounding it is that God created each and every one of them.

Each child a miracle.  Each child's story a tale of God's goodness and mercy.

I think about Anna, our first-born, about how we left behind our felt-need and desire to put off having children and made the decision to trust God.  (Initially motivated by the pill making me a crazed lunatic, of course.  Which was awful, but in a sense I suppose I should thank God that it ended up not being a viable option for me.  Who knows how I would have attempted to rationalize its use, even knowing how it purports to work?)  Who, because He is gracious and has better plans than ours, decided to give us this gift of a child.  Who I can't imagine life without.

Then I think about the baby we lost when Anna was eight months old.  So incredibly sad.  And yet this baby taught us so much, this baby who we have yet to meet.  We learned a bit about life and about love, somehow, through this little one's death.  Does that sound strange?  Morbid?  Maybe.  But it's true.  If given the chance I would obviously choose for my baby to have lived past six weeks, without a doubt (!), but somehow there is redemption in the way things turned out.

I think about Yosef and Biniam, our sons who are adopted.  I think about what their early life was like, and about how we have been given the amazing gift of raising them as our children.  They ARE our children.  Not born to me, no, they were born to someone else.  But somehow through the hopelessness that marked their situation, God has provided them a family, and us two, precious sons.  None of us really know life any other way.  Hard to fathom what our family would be like without the energy and love our boys bring to it each and every day.  Truly a miracle.

Then there's Kaitlyn...and her story is so precious to me, because four months after our sweet boys came home, we found out she was on the way.  I remember feeling incredibly blessed, to the point where it all seemed too much to take in.  Twin sons just home...the gift of a new baby after the loss of a miscarriage and the wondering if we'd ever have a baby again.  Such profound healing.  And she continues to be a huge spot of joy in our lives, no matter the circumstances. 

And now Mary, the miracle I will never fully understand, because yet again I long to parent the baby I miscarried two years ago...but if I had, Mary wouldn't be here.  We'd scarcely begun grieving that loss when the two lines appeared on the pregnancy test.  God was giving us another little one.  So we rejoiced, amidst the grief.  We continued to grieve, even though we also delighted in this new life from the Lord.  I look at her now and am just profoundly thankful, and in utter and complete awe of God's mercy.

So yes, I am so glad that she, and the rest of my children, are here.

And I am praising God for life today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ethiopian Christmas

A few weeks ago our family had the joy of attending an Ethiopian Christmas celebration hosted by a local Ethiopian church.  That's Kaitlyn, after her hair was braided, with one of the church members.

I cannot begin to describe how precious, touching, and amazing this event was.  The church is wanting to reach out to adoptive families with Ethiopian kiddos, to bridge that gap.  We were so humbled by the fabulous day they planned for all of us.

There were lots of games, there was hair braiding, there was an INCREDIBLE feast of Ethiopian food cooked right on site, plus the traditional coffee ceremony, and many kind words and smiles.  I have no words to describe the dear hearts of these precious and generous people.

Our kids of course had a blast.  We hadn't had Ethiopian food in way too long and they (and we!) ate a TON.  Especially Mary Lu, who was literally gobbling it up.  They loved the games, and our girls LOVED having their hair braided.

Part of our motivation in moving to Denver was to be in a place with a sizable Ethiopian population.  I want my sons' birth culture to be an accessible, normalized part of their lives, not something we have to bend over backwards to include to the point where it never feels comfortable.  (Note that the plates are all cleared away, but Mary STILL appears to be eating.  Ha!)

And oh how we have been blessed beyond any of our expectations.  Incredibly, our boys have SIX Ethiopian children (including them) in their Kindergarten class (!), Ethiopian food is a regular part of our diet, and we are blessed to be hopefully making some friends in the Ethiopian community.  Not to mention the many friends our kids have who have also been adopted from Ethiopia.  So yes, it is seeming quite normal, and natural, and I love it. 

The church said they are wanting to make this an annual tradition.  We will definitely be there, and I look forward to building some relationships in the years to come!

***There appear to be, uh, NO photos of Yosef from this event.  Sad!  You can, however, see a small glimpse of him in the photo of the kids playing the Ethiopian version of Duck, Duck, Goose.  He has on a grey sweatshirt.  And next year I'll make sure to do a better job of photographing my Ethiopian kids at the Ethiopian party.  Total mom-fail!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I want people to know

One of the sweetest parts of the adoption process is sending your child-to-be a care package.  I love that our agency does this.  They give you a list of what to send them, and then they deliver it to your child.

But not before your five kids pose excitedly with the bags before setting off to the post office.  (No Biniam does NOT have a long braid in his hair--that's one of those thingies that keeps your glasses from falling down.  Just wanted to clarify.)

We had so much fun putting together packages for M. and T., our two little girls we're adopting from Ethiopia. 

Part of the thought behind this is so the girls can start anticipating joining our family, so they can see photos of us and their new home, and so they can enjoy some fun gifts.  This is often when the child finds out that they have a family.

The other piece of this is, of course, that the other children and caregivers see that this child has a family adopting them.  It is a joyful thing and a time for celebration when a child receives this package.

Orphanages and transition homes are a bit of a revolving door--adoptive families in and out on court trips, volunteer groups coming in to work on projects.  Thus, many people have met M. and T.  Many families have seen them and held them.  And so I've often wondered what people think when they see our they realize they have Down syndrome, and then pity them?  Do they assume they don't have a family, and feel badly, because surely it must be hard to find a family for a waiting child with Down syndrome?  (It's also highly possible that they assume they DO have a family, because they are so darn cute.  :)  In all seriousness, I don't know.  Maybe people DON'T feel bad, or think about it at all.  I know my heart hurt so much for the children without families when we brought our sons home.)

This is part of why I was so.very.excited. to send off those packages.  Because I want people to know that these girls have a family.  That these girls, each born with an extra chromosome, have someone coming for them. 

That T., who lives with the rest of the babies who are adopted so very quickly, is being adopted too.  That she has lots of soon-to-be-siblings, including an older sister who's planning to put her pjs on her every night.  And soon-to-be-parents who are getting SO anxious to get her and her soon-to-be-sister home. 

And a mom who may or may not be nesting like crazy just thinking about it, and consequently bought her and Mary sweet matching crib sets. 

And our M. is finally getting closer to going home too.  The child who our agency thought could never be placed due to unresolved paperwork issues, is getting a mom and a dad.  And a bunch of thrilled siblings.  This girl who has struggled so hard to learn to walk  and to meet her milestones in a country with limited resources for people like her, will be joining this family before too terribly long. 

Whose soon-to-be-mama just bought her an adorable bedding set with the sweetest owls on it.

Yes.  I want people to know.

So we sent our bags, which consisted of the following items:

etsy shirts with the girls' respective initials sewn on them
1 toy each
labeled photo albums of their new family (us!)
blankets sewn by sweet friend
disposable cameras

The blanket is something I have to tell you about.  A very sweet friend told me she wanted to sew a blanket for each of our girls, but each blanket would be in two halves--one was for us to send to the girls, the other was to remain here.  So they'd have something familiar to transition home to, and if their half is still there when we travel, we can bring it home and sew the blanket back together.

Just thinking about this friend's heart and the loving care she went to, to sew these blankets for two little girls on the other side of the world, pretty much brings me to tears.  I like looking at our halves and thinking about how our girls will be snuggling with THEIR halves. 

And I like thinking about how our girls will be flipping through their albums.  Wearing their pretty, Mommy-couldn't-resist-and-splurged-a-little-bit-on-etsy shirts with the hand-sewn, girly pink appliques.

But most of all?  I love thinking about what it all means.  They have a family.  That family is us.  Travelling families will know that M. and T. will soon no longer be waiting.  And they'll know that our family is so crazy blessed because these girls will be our daughters.

Of course the flip-side of all of this is that countless other children ARE still waiting.  And this makes me sad.  Inevitably I will go to my girls' transition home and, mingled with the joy and pride I will surely feel upon meeting them and becoming their mother, I will feel a grave sadness as I look around and see the multitude of children without families yet.  Most of them older, and many with medical needs or developmental delays or unknown diagnoses. 

I can only hope and pray that more and more adopting families will consider by-passing the waitlist to pursue the adoption of a waiting child.

And I will make sure to give our girls an extra tight hug, and thank God that somehow He, in His profoundly life-giving goodness and grace, decided to bring us together.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by deliberate decision.....And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere - "Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things - to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future.

----Mother Teresa

I did not want the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to pass without saying something.  Or, rather, without sharing the words of someone far wiser and much more eloquent than myself.

I won't apologize or give any disclaimers for posting these words.  I won't say "I don't mean to get political, but...", or "I hate to be controversial, but...", because I think we're way too polite about the tragedies taking place in our very own neighborhoods    It's not primarily about politics.  But, it is controversial--we all should be highly uncomfortable about this.

It feels hopeless sometimes, but the millions of children murdered each year do not go unseen.  Nor are they unloved or unwanted.  Because they have a Father who loves beyond measure, whose very heart grieves for each and every precious little one whose life is lost.

A solemn day to be sure, marking 38 years since the passage of Roe v. Wade.  But...there is hope.  Hope in a God who is loving, merciful, and just.  And hope in a church that pursues justice and loves mercy and humbly restores dignity to the least of these.

May we too count ourselves among those who will not be afraid to speak out about abortion and the devastating effect it is having on women, children, and the very fabric of our world.

And while I have always considered myself unapologetically pro-life, I have to tell you that pursuing the adoption of two children with Down syndrome has brought this issue much, much closer to home.  If you don't understand why, all I can say is that over 90% of babies with Down syndrome in our country are aborted.  How God's heart must hurt.  And so I pray that mine continues to hurt, too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday {#18}

1.)  I'm not a big caffeine drinker.  I'll have it in soda from time to time, and I do like iced tea, but when it comes to coffee, I'm generally a decaf-kind-of-person.  (Otherwise I get very nervous, anxious and actually shaky.)  ANYway, I do love my morning (decaf) coffee.  Love, love, love.  However, I don't always get the chance to finish it while it's still hot (in between the whole homeschooling and raising five kids thing), so sometimes I have to re-heat it in the microwave.  Which I went to do this morning.  And somehow I dropped the cup...spilling coffee all over the floor.  I nearly CRIED.  Gone was my delightful morning cup of coffee, and now in its place was a huge mess to clean up.  I hate when I do stuff like that!

2.)  This morning at Mass (which happened to be the feast day for St. Agnes--I love the feast days and learning about these amazing men and women of God), Mary Lu found an old animal cracker on the floor.  I of course took it away from her, which resulted in much screaming and crying.  Oops.  I always feel so bad when my kids make noise during Mass, but I comfort myself with the thought that these people are supposed to be open to life, so hopefully they'll forgive my alternating-between-babbling-and-screaming marital bond of love.  :)  (I did take her out when she got loud, FYI.  So I'm not a total jerk.) 

3.)  I think I'm either getting kidney stones, or another UTI, again.  I'm going to see the doctor this afternoon.  No I don't think this is TMI, and yes I apparently feel the need to divulge my urological problems on my blog.  I remember as a kid, some boy at my church had some sort of "gland infection" (?) or something...and people kept referring to it in this vague way, and I remember thinking that was funny.  What if we were all just really open about all of our embarrassing medical problems?  "Hi, how are you?"  "Oh, I'm okay, except for the fact that I have ringworm and an in-grown toenail."  See, wouldn't that be funny?

4.)  I can't find my keys.  Anywhere.  Totally baffling, and completely maddening.  Where ARE they?  I've looked everywhere...except for where they are, of course.  St. Anthony, HELP!

5.)  Kevin and I have been playing an INSANE amount of Parcheesi lately.  We play and play and play.  And it's really fun, because if I'm wearing my cozy fleecy robe, I inevitably bump the little pieces on the board with my big sleeve and mess them up...and Kevin gets SO MAD.  As far as the game goes, I win most of the time, but last night I seriously got my you-know-what kicked.  But there's always tonight!

6.)  We have two different things to go to tomorrow, SO fun!  Brunch with friends in the morning and a housewarming for a friend in the evening.  It's so nice to have some fun weekend plans to look forward to.

7.)  I had a dream last night that we found out our court date to adopt our girls wasn't until September.  Ugh!  SO far away.  AND in the dream I was pregnant.  Let's hope it's not going to take that long to get a court date, and let's also hope that any future biological Heldt child waits a bit before coming into existence.  (Famous last words by people who believe the marital act should always include the ability to work with God to bring forth life, but whatever, I'm just stating my general preference.  :)  )


Do your own Quick Takes and link to Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Small talk and community

Big confession here: I don't like small talk.

If you know me in real life, maybe you already knew this, thus it is not a big confession but a re-stating of the obvious.  :)

I'm incredibly introverted, and making small talk is exhausting for me.  I enjoy people, I enjoy relationships, and I enjoy good conversation, but small talk is something else altogether.

At church this past Sunday I really wasn't much in the mood for small talk.  And during the Passing of the Peace portion of the service (which lasts a good ten minutes or so), I didn't really talk to anyone.  I had to stay at our seat and watch Mary Lu anyway, so I wasn't able to make the rounds, but I secretly didn't mind. 

There are all these buzzwords we Christians throw around, words like "community" and "doing life together."  Lately I'm thinking about what that stuff even means.  I've seen how churches try to foster community and relationships.  It seems to work out for a lot of people, but certainly not always.  I have a few friends, for example, no longer attending our church because they just never felt like they were really building community there.  They always felt as if they were a little bit on the outside.  But the thing is, I don't know if ANYone feels like they're on the INside.

I've really given a bit more thought to this since we began attending weekday Mass in November.  The kids and I go once a week.  (Sadly Kevin has to get to work.)  Of course we all attend our Protestant church on Sunday mornings, where we are members.  Thus in order to go to Mass, we go during the week.  And yes I am well aware of the irony of belonging to a reformed Protestant church while also attending Roman Catholic Mass.  I guess we're crazy like that!  :)

Anyway, Mass is a bit different from a Protestant church service.  You go into the church and there's no snack table, no loud music, no chit-chat, no (gasp) hanging out before the service.  The church is quiet, and you go and take your seat.  At first it felt maybe a little stuffy and unnerving, especially with five small kids in tow, but now I'm coming to see it more as contemplative, reflective, and beautiful.  When I'm not hissing at my kids to stop fidgeting with the kneeler, I'm thinking about Jesus, enjoying the beautiful iconic artwork, praying, or looking around the room at the many faithful who regularly show up on a weekday (!) to worship the Lord.  Some of them are elderly, and I think about how they have been faithfully doing this for decades.

The focus is all different too.  The purpose for attending Mass at a particular parish is to receive the Blessed Sacrament (which of course we can't, so we receive a blessing instead) and to worship God through remembering (and in a sense re-enacting) Christ's sacrifice.  Plain and simple.  Even though there isn't a lot of visiting going on before it starts, and even though I don't know any of the other parishioners personally (save for the priest who regularly talks with us), I see the potential for a sense of community there because these believers are of one mind and one heart.  Coming together to humbly receive Jesus.  Like people have been doing from the time of the apostles.  Everyone all connected.  There is something really beautiful and profound about that for me.

And really, ever since we began attending our current (Protestant) church nearly three years ago, which unlike any of the former Evangelical churches I ever attended, observes the sacraments (communion is celebrated every week) and includes a time each week of confession and absolution, I've felt like church is PURPOSEFUL.  Suddenly the focus is off of the sermon (what did we "get out of it" this week?) and off of the socializing (why do I see these people every week but it doesn't really seem as if we're living in community?).  The focus is on Jesus' sacrifice, on receiving Christ. 

So I've had this in the back of my mind for awhile, though it's come into clearer focus since attending Mass, which is even more intentional.
But on the other hand, I've been thinking that Evangelical churches have worked super duper hard at creating spaces where people can build community.  Through small groups, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, coffee time, and various activities, a huge portion of Evangelical energy is devoted to building and nurturing relationships at church.  This is an overall strength somewhat unique to Evangelicalism, I think.  Friendships and companions on the journey are important.  Is it working, though?  ARE people finding authentic, life-giving, soul-nourishing community through these avenues?  And what should that even look like?

Yes and no, I am sure.  My dearest friends did indeed used to be people I attended church with.  Not as much anymore.  And that's fine.  But somewhere along the way I think I've bought into the idea that this is a HUGE component of what church should be.  A lot of churches even SAY that.  (Especially if they don't recognize the sacraments, because if you're not attending for the purpose of receiving Christ in the bread and the wine, you obviously have to go for some other reason.)  But the whole authentic community thing is hard.  And difficult to build in the confines of a Sunday morning.  We are united in our love for Jesus, perhaps, but often that's where it ends.  Everyone has varying ideas about pretty much everything else.

Jennifer at Conversion Diary once wrote about the idea that living in community is distinct from socializing.  You cannot imagine the huge sigh of relief I breathed when I read that!  Because I keep hearing about how we should be living in community with others, but to be honest, what I picture in my mind's eye when I hear that is NOT necessarily something positive.  It sounds draining.  Exhausting.  Contrived.  I am just not an overly social person outside of my immediate family and maybe a couple of friends.  And our small group.  I'm all for loving others and sharing in their lives, joys, and sorrows, and meeting peoples' needs, but I have no desire to live in a commune or spend all of my time with lots of people at crowded parties.

In recent months, I've wondered what Catholic church culture is like, in the sense that they don't seem to push for socialization as much as Protestants do, or at least not in the same ways.  (They do have coffee and donuts, and pancake breakfasts, youth groups etc., but it seems different, at least from the outside looking in.)  I enjoy the socialization aspect of Christianity, and I do think it's important, but I'm beginning to wonder if we're not getting great results, considering how much effort is going into it.  Plus, we're all busy earning a living or raising our children.  And if you can't build meaningful relationships Sunday morning, you have to get involved in a small group, and go to these activities...And, see, this is where you get into the bigger-picture, what is church supposed to be types of questions that I've been mulling over in my mind for the past four years.  :)

Friends are good.  We need relationships.  Don't get me wrong.  Small talk is tricky though, and it really has nothing to do with me, and countless other introverts, needing to get out of our comfort zones.  I'm happy to do that in a real, genuine conversation.  But small talk is different.  And I find myself doing a lot of it on Sunday mornings.  At weekday Mass however, I feel a strange kinship with the parishioners (even though I myself am not currently Catholic.)  When we engage in a brief chat afterwards, I usually find it encouraging--it often involves a kind comment about my gaggle of kids.  And they seem to assume a sort of camaraderie.  Thus I feel some sort of connection to these people, I think because of the unifying nature of their faith and because of the many things I know I have in common with the traditional Catholic.  More on that later, I am sure.

Bottom line, having grown up a Christian, and having now experienced some different types of churches, church community will always fascinate me.  I'm finding that the purpose for going on Sundays (sermon?  Eucharist?  community?) makes a huge difference in the overall experience and perhaps even satisfaction level.  I love the intentionality of the Mass, but I wonder how relationships are built.  I like all the Protestant socializing, but occasionally get tired of the small talk and wonder if we have to rally so hard to build community because we're not building it around a unified belief system and purpose.

So those are some ramblings.  That definitely do not qualify as small talk.   :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book love

My thrifting this past weekend yielded three new books(!):

Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Forgotten Among the Lilies by Ronald Rolheiser

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel

I'm super excited to read all three, and have already started Rolheiser's Forgotten Among the Lilies.  So far I'm really enjoying it!  Lots of deep thoughts that I keep having to stop and ponder.  (Don't you love those sorts of books?)  He's talking about the martyrdom of obscurity, the domesticity of our lives, the realities inherent in celibacy and in marriage, the loss of dreaming and idealism, all sorts of good stuff that is actually quite relevant to this stay-at-home-mama's life.  I am even underlining things--and I NEVER do that.  Ever. 

Have you read any good books lately?  I have some more here that I want to read...The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, David Platt's Radical, and The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen.  Not enough hours in the day to get lost in a good book, that is for sure! 

I want to share the following gem from Forgotten Among the Lilies.  One of the many things I have oh-so-uncharacteristically underlined. 

{What an incredible and tragic loss of idealism!  Such a philosophy voices despair because the deepest demand of love, Christianity, and of life itself is precisely the challenge to specialness, to what is most ideal.  Love, Christianity and life demand that we take the road less taken, that we be in restless cogitation for a higher eros, that we be one in a thousand.}

I love that.  Love, love, love.  So true and inspiring and so, so timely.  Also incredibly challenging, which is why he closes that chapter with these words:

{May we have the courage to uphold our ideals, even when we cannot fully live them.}


***I feel the need to add that I know Ronald Rolheiser is considered to be a little unorthodox in Catholic circles (he's a priest).  Still I am finding his book to be quite thought-provoking, even if I don't agree with everything he writes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adoption update (!) and adoption musings

Well lo and behold, I found out that our dossier was submitted to Ethiopian court a little over a week ago!  Which means that we should be hearing about a court date soon!  Hooray!

In case you didn't know, our family is in the process of adopting two little girls from Ethiopia, ages 18-ish months and 4-ish years old.  Both girls were born with Down syndrome and have been waiting quite some time for a family.  We are so, SO excited to be their mommy and daddy!!!  These girls have been without a family for WAY.TOO.LONG.  We can't wait to get them home!

Part of why it is taking so long to get a court date is that the Ethiopian government has, in recent months, begun requiring additional paperwork for cases submitted to court.  Things that were NOT required when our girlies first came into care at our agency's transition home.  (And THAT is the point where our agency gathers everything to go to court.)  SO, our agency has had to go back and obtain more documentation on these children.  Thus the wait.

Anyway, it's hard to believe that we might know our travel dates within a few weeks.  Even crazier to think that we could potentially be in Ethiopia within a couple of months (!)

And to be honest, it's also kind of scary!  It's feeling more and more real (but also more SURreal, if that makes any sense) that, my goodness, we are going to have two new little girls in our family!  I honestly have NO clue what to expect this transition to be.  No idea.  Though that's probably for the best--we definitely made an effort the first time around to not have many expectations, and it worked out well I think. 

I will say that I AM expecting to be exhausted and overwhelmed.  I'm expecting grief and tears and tantrums and a potentially long period of adjustment.  (I meant on their part, but probably on mine too.)  But I'm also expecting to fall in love with these precious girls.  I'm expecting lots of cuddling and giggling.  And I can't WAIT to see those sweet smiles in person.  That, so far, I've only seen in video and in photographs.  It's going to be crazy hard, but I'm trusting in God's grace that it will also be crazy good.  Even if/when it doesn't feel that way.

The Down syndrome piece of all of this is in the back of my mind too.  Wanting to get them home so we can obtain any necessary medical care and, when the time is right, get them into early intervention to help them meet their milestones.  It has been a struggle for M. (4-ish years old) to learn to walk, for example (she also has a diagnosis of mild Cerebral Palsy, but who really knows if it's just developmental delay due to institutionalization + Down syndrome or actual CP), so I'm really anxious to see her progress, and to also help her continue to develop this skill.

I just keep thinking that these girls, soon to be our girls (!), are created by God and that He loves them so, SO much.  He wants them, like all children, to have a mom and a dad.  He wants them, like all children, to experience love in a family.  He created them because He loves them.  They have had to wait, but maybe they won't have to wait too terribly much longer.  These girls are strong--they're survivors, really--and God has had His hand on them from before they were even born.  How beautiful is that?  And we are receiving the great honor and privilege of bringing new life into our family.  Two new lives.  How crazy blessed are we??!!

It's strange to think that on the one hand, these two little ones might easily earn the title of "the least of these", that Jesus talks about in the Bible.  And that would probably be a fair assessment, considering that they were not only born with Down syndrome (therefore not necessarily seen as the blessings they truly are by way too many very-deceived-people), but they also lost their birth families.  And have been living life in an institution.  They are vulnerable. 


On the other hand.

These two little ones are loved by an amazingly huge and merciful God.  They are beautiful souls.  They have dignity.  They have experienced so much loss in such a short time, yet soon will be joining a family who will love them to pieces.  They are soon to have sisters and brothers who draw pictures of them and think about them and pray for them.  PLEASE don't get me wrong, any time a child loses their birth family (and birth culture for that matter), there is profound brokenness.  I won't minimize that.  And oh how I wish their respective birthparents could have had the distinct joys of raising these sweet girls.  But I know too that amidst the brokenness, there is a God who is about the business of redemption.  Who brings beauty from ashes.

And really, WE are the blessed ones.  WE are receiving these beautiful children and WE will have the joy that comes with having them in our home.  Their lives are precious, beyond valuable.  I have a feeling I will have a lot to learn from my new daughters.  I have a feeling they will give me new and beautiful insights into the very heart of Jesus.  Through their struggles AND through their achievements.  Because that's how God works.  The world may see them as "the least of these", and while in one sense I agree, and believe we need to relentlessly advocate for the adoption of waiting children who have no other options, I have to say that we see them as priceless treasures.  Beautiful gifts.  Delightfully created. 

So we are beyond thrilled.  And we are getting closer.  And God is amazingly, amazingly good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

LOST: it is finished!

WARNING: If you have not watched a little show called LOST, and are planning to, stop reading.  Because there are spoilers up ahead.  And I really think you SHOULD watch it, by the way.  It's awesome.

And, I know LOST is totally old news.  SO last year.  :)  But whatever.  It's still worth talking about!

Anyway.  You have heard me vaguely refer to a TV series that we've been getting from the library, that we are totally hooked on.

Well, last night we finished the series.  It was LOST.

I hadn't wanted to say the name of it because I wanted to avoid any and all spoilers.  For the most part I did, though I did unfortunately and accidentally hear ahead of time that Jack and John Locke died.  Oops!

Anyway, how great was this show??!!  I LOVED it!  Each and every season.  I loved (most of) the characters, the plot, all of the suspense and mysteries.

Some random LOST thoughts:

--Could have done entirely without Boone and Shannon and their messed up weirdo siblings-but-attracted-to-each-other relationship.  Also could have done without them returning in the final episode.  Blech. 

--Jack infuriated me throughout the various seasons of the show...but he won me over by the end.  I loved that he sacrificed his life for Desmond, and that he got to raise a son and fix John's legs in the made-up post-death world.

--I was glad that Kate and Jack never actually got together for any length of time.  She was annoying with all her waffling back and forth between him and Sawyer.  Make up your mind, woman!

--Sawyer was hilarious.  Loved him. 

--I feel so sorry for the unnamed man in black, Jacob's brother.  He never ASKED to become a nasty monster.

--Jacob scared me.  So creepy!  And their "adoptive" mother?  Eek!

--I LOVED Jin and Sun and their love story.  So, so sweet.

--Still a bunch of questions unanswered...this is a random one but why was Michael's soul trapped on the island for what he did (shooting people), but Ana Lucia somehow wasn't (she shot Shannon.)  I was bummed when Walt disappeared from the show, but I did love that his dog Vincent made it to the finale.  AND WHAT WAS WIDMORE'S DEAL?  What was he trying to do there with his submarine and all his peeps?  How was Desmond supposed to help him?  What was with all the rules, like the smoke monster/fake Locke couldn't kill the candidates? 
As for the finale, I'd known going in that a lot of people were disappointed with how it turned out.  As for me, I had mixed feelings.  Part of me loved it, the other part of me wanted more redemption to have happened in the real world, not in the after-life fake-y world.  BUT, the OTHER part of me felt like redemptive things DID happen on the island, and I love that the finale sort of put forth the idea that the island was incredibly meaningful and not just a blip in the lives of the characters.  They all wanted off the island, but in the end, their time there was incredibly important and significant.  One of my biggest disappointments with the finale I suppose was that Jack never got to enjoy a good marriage/family life.  That made me sad for some reason.

I have a feeling I'll be reading LOST articles like crazy in the days to come.  And, I want to re-watch the series from start to finish again at some point.  I can't stop thinking about it!  We don't watch much TV, but I confess that I fell in love with this show from the very first episode.

On a complete and utter side-note, if you ever watched "Days of Our Lives" several years ago (yes, I did, and I'm admitting it here), you might remember the "other Salem", the island where a bunch of the characters ended up in this weird alternate reality.  Heeheehee.  It was super corny and cheesy, as anything on "Days of Our Lives" is, but LOST reminded me of that, and it made me laugh.  Because I'm SURE the writers of LOST totally got their ideas from Days.  Bwahahahaha!  I like sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell.  :) 

But friends, there's nothing sarcastic about this: I positively adored LOST, and it is by far one of the best shows I have ever watched.  Most entertainment these days is hardly worth the effort, but this was excellent.  I heart LOST!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is this an adoption blog?

There are SO MANY adoption bloggers out there.

Half the time, that's why people START a blog.

It's why I started mine five and a half years ago.  To keep track of our process.  And I hoped it could be a source of information about Ethiopian adoption for others.  (Hard to believe, but back then, there were hardly ANY people blogging about adopting from Ethiopia.)

Of course once the adoption is final, and the children are home, there isn't really any more process to blog about.  Even though adoption remains part of your life. 

Anyhow, it's odd, being in-process again and having a blog.  Because it occurs to me that I don't really post about adoption all that often these days.  Maybe I got out of the habit after our boys came home.  Maybe I just plain have nothing to say (no, THAT can't be it.  :)  )  Honestly I don't know why. 

The thing is, adoption is COMPLICATED and HUGE.  Multi-faceted.  I have assorted (strong) feelings and opinions on the matter but it takes effort to delve into them.  I know there are people reading my blog with questions about adoption, who are thinking about taking the plunge and all that.  So I want to post about it more, I think.

And I'll start by answering a question that I get asked a LOT: 

Is the adoption process hard?

My answer is usually, as you could probably guess because you know I am a hopelessly diplomatic people-pleaser, yes and no.  Yes because it involves paperwork, notarizations, visits with a social worker, a physical, and potentially lots of waiting.  Things that make a mom-to-five-small-children want to pull her hair out.  But my answer is also no, because we work WAY harder at tons of other things that have a MUCH smaller payoff and MUCH less significance.  We invest more time and money in recreation, entertainment, cars, Starbucks, smart phones, the list goes on.  Yet we shake our heads and say the adoption process is too hard and expensive.

Well, yes, it IS hard.  And it IS (gulp) expensive.  But so are lots of other things that we don't think twice about doing or owning or...going into debt for.  The thing is, with those other things, there is an opportunity cost (just like with adoption), but it doesn't FEEL like a sacrifice.  Because we want the stuff.  But using money on an adoption that would otherwise be used to spruce up your hideous, shame-inducing yard DOES feel like a sacrifice.  Go figure.

But I think the best things in life (marriage, children, relationships, love) take time and work.  The things that come easiest rarely satisfy.  So yes the process may be difficult for any number of reasons, but it is WORTH IT.  All the way.  And, if I can navigate my way through it all with five kids racing around my hideous, shame-inducing yard, so can you.  Truly.

So yes, this is an adoption blog.  Our family has been touched by adoption, so inevitably it is part of who we are.  And we are in the midst of another adoption, so I want to share about that too.  I don't know how exactly I would categorize this random little piece of the blogosphere, but I do hope that adoption is always a part of my blathering voice! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grandpa + Mary Lu

That's my dad with Mary.

These two have such a special bond.

She LOVES him.

He makes her laugh and they have silly little games they play together.

So, so sweet.

Especially considering the fact that she can be a total grumpy-pants to pretty much anyone else.

She would NOT, for example, smile for my mom the entire time we were in California.

And not for any good reason, either.  Becuase my mom is a nice person.  And loves Mary.

But apparently Mary is all about Grandpa Perruzzi these days.

Extended family is priceless!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The waiting game (of Ethiopian adoption)

I probably get asked at least three times a week if I have any adoption news, if we have a court date yet to become parents to our two precious, waiting girls.

And the answer is still, sadly, no.

Our dossier went to Ethiopia roughly three months ago (!)  Yet there is no exact science when it comes to these things, because there are many factors involved.  Some parents are inclined to frequently email and call and request information.  (Which is obviously understandable.)  We've more or less made the decision to wait and see, because ultimately we have no real control anyway.  I figure the less agency time spent assuring us that our process will indeed culminate in an adoption, the more agency time spent on placing children and moving the process along.

The two children we are adopting are in good hands at our agency's care center.  I know this.  And yet at the same time, they need to come HOME.  Both girls were born with Down syndrome, and are developmentally delayed to some degree.  The sooner they can join our family, the sooner we can get them any help or medical attention they may need.  Both girls have waited WAY.TOO.LONG. for a family in the first place.  Baby/toddler girls are in high demand from Ethiopia...unless they have special/medical needs.  Then they wait.

So this morning I broke down and sent a short email to our agency, letting them know we received our I-171 approval and asking if there is any particular REASON it's been three months, or if it's just adoption as usual.  :)  I figure hearing from us once every three months is not so bad.  The director of the agency wrote back saying they should have some news soon.

I think anyone who has adopted knows that it involves a lot of waiting.  It's hard.  My life has felt as if it's been in limbo for the past three months, and the more time that passes, the more it feels that way.  The only thing that has kept me remotely sane is the fact that I have five children occupying my time, so I'm trying to savor these final months of calm before the major transition of adding two children to our family.

But I'm getting anxious.  Even though I believe in the process and I believe we will eventually travel to make these girls our daughters.

Part of me feels guilty (?) that I'm NOT calling our agency every few maybe I should be advocating for these children more.  But in my head I know that no amount of my whining is going to change anything, except maybe put me on our agency's bad list.  Plus, we wouldn't have used this agency (twice!) if we didn't trust them or believe they are doing good, ethical work. 

Basically, motherhood and adoption and all that comes with it are not about me.  And our girls are worth it.  They are worth every notarized document, every ounce of anxiety and frustration, every penny, every moment of limbo it takes to bring them home.  That's what it's about.  So while I feel horrible that these girls are still in an orphanage when they have a family (us!) excited to bring them home, I'll look on the sort-of bright sight and keep on waiting...because they deserve to have someone impatiently waiting for them.  And if I could do anything to get them home sooner, I would.  In a heartbeat. 

I'll continue to keep you all posted.  Because I am obsessively and compulsively checking my email every day in hopes that there will be news.  And when there is, you all will be some of the first to know!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Only in Denver

This photo appeared in the Denver Post today.  (Taken by Leah Millis, special to The Denver Post.  Gotta give credit to the photographer when I lift the picture, right?)  Yes, that man is the shorts.  I have actually seen people wearing shorts here in snowy weather more than a few times.


We are getting quite a bit of snow right now.  So, so pretty (and it hides our yucky lawn!), but don't be fooled by the shorts-wearing man, it's COLD!

You can bet that I'm hunkered down in my house right now and that I won't be going an.y.where tomorrow.  Kevin is currently reading Prince Caspian to the kids and, once they're in bed, we'll resume our TV show series finale viewing.

Anyway, I just had to share this photo with you.  So, so funny.  And truly a sight you will only see in Denver!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Re-entry is for the birds

As I'm sure you can see from my lack of blogging this week, we are still trying to get back on our feet after being out of town for a week and a half.  It's hard!

We're all unpacked, which is great, but I've got a huge load of laundry to fold and put away yet, and I still need to pack up all of our Christmas stuff.  That's tomorrow's job I guess.  My living room is such a mess right now, with piles of Christmas decorations that need to be stored.  Ugh.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to hit up the after-Christmas clearance sales.  I don't have much in the way of Christmas decor and it is SO CHEAP right now at Target and Walmart (if it hasn't been cleared out yet.)  I've scored some fun stuff and I'm bummed I have to wait an entire year to use it!  Anyway, that means even more things to find a place for in our garage.  Yeah, tomorrow is not going to be so fun.  :)

I'm trying to let stuff go and be relaxed about getting everything back in order, but that's a double-edged sword because I hate having an untidy home.  It makes me crazy.  And grouchy.

Today was a great day though (messy home be darned.)  Kevin and I played Scrabble and Parcheesi in the morning (yes we are apparently ten years old), and then in the afternoon our family attended an Ethiopian Christmas celebration that a local Ethiopian church hosted for adoptive families with Ethiopian children.  It was AMAZING.  They put on a variety of games and activities, cooked and served the most FABULOUS feast for dinner, did the traditional coffee, so special.  Denver has a sizable Ethiopian population, and a sizable number of adoptive families, but the two communities probably don't mix all that often.  This church wants to change that, and we felt so loved and welcomed.  What a wonderful opportunity.  We fell in love with Ethiopian culture the moment we set foot in Ethiopia nearly five years ago, and I was reminded of that today.

And once Kevin is done watching the football games he taped on TV today (yes, taped--we don't have Tivo or any other such fancy gadgets), we are resuming our TV show that we are hooked on.  It's the final season, people, and I have NO CLUE how it's all going to end!  SO exciting!  We spent all summer plowing through the seasons, staying up until 2 am because we could literally not.stop.watching.  And now the final season is in from the library. 

So all of this to say that I'm having a tough time getting back into a good routine (thus the non-blogging), but life is still pretty good all things considered.  Cheap Christmas stuff, awesome Ethiopian Christmas celebration (I cannot fathom a better meal), and the final season of our show.  Yay for the little things!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A fun new find

While we were staying with my parents, my mom and I snuck away a couple of times to go shopping.  (Which always results in us browsing the stores laughing hysterically at one thing or another.)  One day we wound up at Bath and Body Works, where I bought some of these Wallflowers plug-ins.

They make my home smell SOOOOOOOOOO good!  I'm loving them!  Our house is old and as a result it can potentially smell, well, old.  I'm really a fanatic about it so I try to regularly burn a candle etc.  (Thus my house doesn't smell bad.)  But these are even better!

I am NOT getting paid or otherwise compensated for this here little endorsement (I wish!), just sharing the love and saying that these things ROCK. 

They come in all different scents and are currently on sale (!) right now for $5 (either the starter set or the refill pack).  Right now I have "Twisted Peppermint" in my bathrooms, and "Spiced Pumpkin" in my kitchen.  I can't wait to try some of the others!

What is your favorite product for making your home smell yummy and clean?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I heart California

So as you may or may not know, we just returned from our annual trip back to the Central Coast of California.  I'm sure I'll be sharing about our time there in the coming days.

If you've ever been to San Luis Obispo (and the surrounding areas), you know it's pretty great.

I grew up in an itty-bitty "town" in northern SLO County, called Creston.  My parents live on twelve acres there.  I love it.  One of my favorite places to be sure (we were even woken up in the middle of the night by a HUGE pack of howling coyotes right outside.  No joke!)

So it was great to go back to my hometown, and also great to see San Luis Obispo again--the nearby town where I went to college and had a lot of fun.  Mostly, the town makes me think of when Kevin and I were dating!  Such wonderful memories of lunch at Firestone Grill, walking downtown, getting frozen yogurt at Country Culture, hanging out at one of our respective apartments.  I don't miss being in school (eek!), and haven't actually seen my old college campus since I left it several years ago (no real desire to visit), but I DO have such fond memories of the town and the people and my dating days.

And this year we even made it down to Santa Maria (30 minutes south of SLO), and drove by our house there.  We have been renting it out ever since we moved.  The house looked great (you know, still standing, the lawn is still alive, and it isn't covered in graffitti :) ), and the weird thing is that seeing our old neighborhood didn't really evoke any strong emotions for me.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  Part of this is probably because we didn't really know anyone in the neighborhood, and the neighbors right next to us and across the street are all gone now.  So aside from the house and street itself, nothing is the same. 

NONE of our kids remembered playing at our neighborhood park, OR the house itself!  So funny.  I guess it's been nearly three years, but still, I'd assumed they'd have SOME memory of it.  (Look at how little they are here in 2006--no wonder they don't remember!)

So I've decided that I miss California.  A lot.  (I mean look at those palm trees!  With the ocean in the background.  Makes me happy.)  I miss the sights and the ocean and the places.  (I miss the people most of all of course, but right now I'm just talking about the state itself.)  I miss driving down the coast, and I miss knowing that I was only a few hours from Los Angeles and Orange County and San Francisco too.  There are decidedly things I DON'T miss, of course, like Kevin's commute, our old neighborhood where we didn't know anyone, etc., but California will always hold a very special place in my heart.

That being said, driving back the other night, the snowy Rocky Mountains took my breath away.  I would not have CHOSEN to drive through them in a storm, mind you, but it was beautiful.  (This is where I will extend a shout-out to my husband for getting us through the stormy mountains in one piece.  We were all holding our breaths slipping going up that final ascent to the Eisenhower Tunnel.)  Vail and the other sweet mountain towns you pass through are positively stunning.  Especially at night, all lit up against the white hillsides.  Truly a sight to behold.

So I'm happy to be in Colorado.  Grateful that we're not doing the living-in-Santa-Maria-but-not-doing-anything-there thing.  Even if I miss California.

Monday, January 03, 2011


As of 2 am this morning, we are home.  Back in Denver after a week and a half in California.  (Our late arrival is the result of the fact that we drive straight through on these trips.  Yes, that would be 19 hours or so of drive-time, not counting stops.  I'll have to share about roadtripping with kids sometime.  They have a blast, us not quite as much, but it's not as bad as it sounds.)  The trip was wonderful, not nearly long enough, and I missed out on seeing some people because I wound up sick at one point (thankfully only a 24-hour type of thing.)

We came home to a bit of snow on the ground that the kids are anxious to play in!

We also came home to a Christmas tree and a bunch of decorations that need to be taken down and put away.

Sigh.  :)

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about jumping back into our much to do around here, and so much email to catch up on (we were basically off the grid for the entire trip, so to speak, because my parents live in a rural area with a pretty slow dial-up internet connection).

So I'm starting by rearranging my living room.

Because I have my priorities.

Happy New Year friends!

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