Monday, June 29, 2009

When God Found Us You

A few nights ago, I was reading B the book God Gave Us You which we had registered for even before she was born. It is a picture book about a baby polar bear who is asking her mom to explain to her where she came from. It is a very sweet story giving a great picture of the anticipation of expecting your first baby with (as a friend once referred to it) all of its "beautiful newness." B is really into reading additional books by the same author, and she noticed the little picture of the sequel, "God Gave Us Two." My first thought was that we should get that one since God has given us two precious little ones. But, then I realized that the story which the second book tells is about the mother expecting a second child, and that it would not reflect the beautiful way that God had continued to expand our family by giving us T. Right now, they haven't asked questions about these things, but I know they will someday, and I nervously anticipate those discussions. I want to make sure that T understands that although his story is different, it is just as magnificent and wonderful as the way God blesses people with biological children.

Anyway, here is the strange part. I walked out after gingerly laying B in her crib, and J pulled out a book, God Found Us You, which he had been sent by a publishing company to review (this happens every so often). It just so happened to be by the same authors and was written for children who have been adopted! I was so excited because a) this is exactly what I was looking for to begin introducing the topic to T, b) the timing was extremely right, and c) we got a free book and I LOVE books! I can't wait to share this with both of the kids. Here was my favorite quote from the book. In talking about the little fox's first mother, Mother Fox says, " 'I think she prayed like crazy that you would be safe, Little Fox. I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her.' Mama's voice got all whispery. 'And God answered both of our prayers.' "

Here is T with Aunt Meme during her fun recent visit :)

Sweet dreams!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Down on the Farm

On Friday, B, T, and I joined some mommy and toddler friends at Underwood Farms in Moorpark, CA. We knew there would be animals and fruit to pick so I figured it would be fun. The kids were very psyched, and I was hoping our hour drive wouldn't let us down. I can happily say that the farm did not disappoint! In fact, this may have been our favorite adventure as of late. The kids were thrilled with seeing all of the farm animals and climbing bales of hay. They adored the little playground area and sand box during lunch time, but the best was still yet to come.

After lunch we (yes, the toddlers!) picked the most delicious strawberries. You should have seen their faces light up. B was very into picking the brightest red ones, and T was interested in sampling as many as possible. Every time I turned around he had another one in his mouth - thankfully he is the second child so I didn't freak out. After having salmonella at 4 weeks of age, T laughs in the face of E.Coli.

I had to pull B away (she and I could have picked strawberries all day!) and we headed over to the veggie section where she helped me pick green beans, yellow zucchini, squash, carrots, and cucumbers. T focused more on pushing the wagon around and jumping off of some spare boxes. We had so much fun and the tantrums when it was time to go were enough to prove that they had a great day. It's nice to be able to end everything enjoyable with a good melt-down. :)

That evening we washed our strawberries and the kids gobbled them up. This is especially amazing since neither B nor T had ever managed to force themselves to injest a strawberry before - too tart I guess. Anyway, they loved these, and I had to cut them off so we would have some left to proudly display for daddy. 

On Saturday, we steamed some of our veggies and while I was the only one who would eat the zucchini, B and T devoured the green beans! B usually likes those, but not T, so we were very happy. I guess we only have to drive an hour and pick them ourselves in order to get him to eat things that are not bread products. Easy enough :) 
So, besides having a blast at the farm I also realized a couple of things. I realized how removed we are in our food consumption these days. Not that I don't like the ease of going to a store and grabbing a giant bag of pre-washed and pre-cut broccoli to steam, but this definitely gave me a new perspective, and perhaps more appreciation for what we eat. Hopefully it did the same for the kids. Picking enough green beans for a meal is no easy task. I really appreciate the people who do these hard jobs for us, too. I would not be a very good farmer, not only because I can't keep houseplants alive, but also because I don't think I could hang with the hard work. So, God bless the people who grow and pick our food for us. And thanks for letting us give it a shot this once! :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I laid down with B last night as she was falling asleep. She wanted to read Llama Llama Misses Mama about 10 times before she finally fell asleep. I was thinking that we could be done when dusk turned to dark, but she was doing such a good job of reading the book to me (she almost has every rhyming line in it memorized) and I was thoroughly enjoying the expression she used when she was reading. She loves reading like her dad and I do.

Then she turned and said, "Excuse me, mommy, can you turn a light on so I can see it better?" So much for just gradually letting it get dark. How could I resist when that was the first time she had ever said excuse me. "Sure baby girl..." I laid back down and saw the delight in her eyes that we could keep going for a bit more, and she said, "Is that a lamp?" "Yes, it is" "It's kind of like that song, Mary had a Little Lamp isn't it?" This little girl is too cute, and after a few more laughs and times reading the story, she fell asleep with her hand in mine. Pure mommy bliss.

I was very happy to have this time with her as she needed some one on one time after our fun weekend of activity. It is kind of funny when you realize you have accidentally created a little bit of a mini-me. Well, it's funny sometimes. B happens to be quite the mini-combo of J and I. The good and the bad. Here are some examples:

B has to know what we are doing next at all times. She was bound to be plagued by impatience and obsessed with pre-planned agendas and productivity (yes, I started planning out a couple of homemade Christmas gifts in my mind yesterday...It's just a genetic mutation I have, I guess :) And, her dad hasn't relaxed since he was born (just kidding - sort of!) T just requests to go the park every time we leave the house.

B is a bit on the moody side (that's from daddy!). Just ask her Nana, Papa, Aunt, and Uncle who took us to Newport Beach with them for the weekend. We had a great time spending time with them, riding a ferry, checking out Balboa Island, playing at the beach, and eating lots of delicious food. She is really good-natured most of the time, and spent the majority of it happily running around, chatting, taking care of her baby doll, and pretend talking on the phone for literal hours. But, then she got really upset if someone gave her a compliment on her shirt or we tried to say grace before dinner, and would run away mad. I'm sure getting angry when someone gives you a compliment seemed rather appropriate to her. Just not us.

Our family very graciously witnessed this "attention overload." She loves being around people like I do, but we both need a little down time apparently (I am just starting to realize this about myself after watching her). She loves playing but starts to get a bit snippy when she has been with people for an extended period of time. I have a bit of a bratty streak myself - surprised, right? T has picked up a bit of this moodiness as well, but we think his is more focused on the fact that he has a hard time with anyone leaving at all. And he has the gifts of incessancy and having a one-track mind...umm...I mean, persistence.

Anyway, at times she resembles a little teenager. This makes both mommy and daddy very nervous! I have heard the two's are a bit of a preview for the teens...oh boy. She is the most precious little girl who can be as sweet as sugar and as spunky as possible. All in all, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am glad she has a mind of her own - now we just need to figure out how to nurture that little thing!

Her brother is all boy - not too moody, but wild as all get out! He loves a good snuggle and a good jump off of a playground or into a pool. The kid naturally knew to hold his breath, and then jumped into the water at the pool, went completely under, and happily waited for his dad to scoop him up about 50 times. Then upon emerging from the water in daddy's arms he yelled, "More!?"
Neither J nor I are very daring (don't tell J I said that), so I guess this just goes to show that nature may play a bigger role than I had always assumed... Even though T was surrounded by dress-up high heels and baby dolls, he chooses, trucks, cars, trains, and tools to play with. There's another vote for nature. But then, on the nuture-side, he does have some glaring similarities already - he loves to TALK (sentences these days), he loves watching "Bastetball" with his daddy, is super creative and fun-loving like B, and can throw a pretty mean tantrum like his sis when he gets upset. He also has J's weird texture-based-primarily-carbohydrate eating habits. So pizza and "fasta" it is!

Nevertheless, we seem to have gotten two of the best but very different personalities in the world to raise! And we wouldn't trade a minute of it (which is pretty big for me to be able to write after B's anger about me not letting her buckle her own car seat and T's 20 minute melt-down this afternoon). I would have maybe fast-forwarded through those 20 minutes a bit. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Family Fest

I have a little bit of an addiction to the library as of late. And, I have been using that addiction to read all sorts of books: classics, books on education, and adoption, and race, and even some Biblical historical fiction. I love stories and history so I have really been enjoying learning in this way. J keeps teasing me because he thinks Fabio should be on the cover. So they have some love stories in there, but even more I feel inspired by these people with many failings who God still uses in pretty big ways.

I have been trying to figure out what it means to be faithful in my context. My context is full of whining and wonder, days where I feel like I live with three of the most amazing people ever, and days where I feel like I could pull my hair out if I wasn't already pulling a screaming 2 year old out of a store. As you know, J just retuned from Africa where he was among street children and people living in some of the most dire conditions in the world, and his ministry seems so much more tangible than mine at times. You can read about it on LIA's blog. I know everyone's role is different and equally important, etc., etc., but I guess I just want to make sure I am making the most of mine. I miss going places like that sometimes (though I have a hard time being away from my kids for more than a few hours) and wonder how I can continue to be engaged in the things God is doing across the world while being fully engaged in what he is doing in my living room and my city. Thoughts?

Okay - enough musing. On to some pictures...

On Friday night we took the kids to the Monrovia Family Festival and had a great time. The place is a festival for sure. Our kids were fascinated by the mini-petting farm, the bubble street performer, and B had a blast on her second pony ride! T was off to the side with tear-filled eyes during her ride. This was not because we tried to make him go on (we know better - he prefers his danger to involve jumping off of large play structures not large animals) but because he was terrified that she was going to fall off.

We let the kids walk instead of being in their stroller and you would have thought we gave them the world! They were able to decide their own destiny a bit. Like when they wanted to stop and watch a man who looked more like an accountant than a rock star, sing about being a wild man with his air guitar, they could (until we couldn't take it anymore and we felt like we would have to throw him a dollar if we stayed any longer :)

So, they happily marched along looking at the booths of people selling produce and crafts. J was happy once we got coupons and were able to get free tacos from a vendor for dinner. You know how he feels about the word free. It was a lot of fun and we enjoyed being out in the community. If you are in the area you should check it out. Amazingly enough they do it every Friday night!

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The aftermath & The Early Father's Day

      We thought the kids had handled J's latest Africa trip pretty well (maybe better than their mommy?) However, in this last week we have been seeing some aftermath. We had wondered what was up with them until we realized the strange behavior was probably from a bit of insecurity because this time they realized that daddy had been gone for a while. 
     They have been super clingy to me during the day, really clingy to J at bedtime, and kind of obstinate in between (trying to control things that perhaps feel out of their control?) It helps now that we realize why the weird behavior, but we haven't figured out anything to help other than waiting it out. Thankfully, he doesn't have any big trips for a couple of months, but in the meantime this has taken a bit of a toll on us (we have been a little edgy all around). It is really sad for me to think that our kids are feeling nervous and insecure. So we are trying to be patient and smother them with love.

      We decided to celebrate Father's Day a couple of weeks early because on the actual weekend, my in-laws will be taking us to a beach house (yay!) We could have done it next weekend, but frankly I am horrible at waiting for things. So, we gave J a schedule (if you know him, you know giving him an agenda is much more relaxing than giving him free time). He got to sleep in, open a new pair of shorts and an ice cream maker, cash to go hit golf balls and get a Starbuck's with, Chipotle for lunch, time to go to the gym, and homemade ice cream in the evening. A pretty good day for an overworked, but "type A" dad. Oh and he also got a note from me (which I had thankfully written ahead of time, because as I mentioned tensions were a bit high this weekend, and it may not have been quite as sweet if I had waited to write it until then even though I still meant every word!) :) 
       Here is a bit of our note (to honor J) and a pic of daddy and his kids! We love you more than words could express, J/daddy!

             We absolutely love and adore you so much. I had great intentions of getting you a sweet card, but in my looking for one, Trevor started pouring his juice box on the card rack, so we had to abandon our mission. Instead I am just writing this for you.  Words cannot express how thankful I am for you. I knew long ago that not only had I found my true love forever, the man who was perfect for me, but that also I had found someone who would be a wonderful, loving father for our children.  Over the last 7 years of marriage and 2 years of parenthood you have already shown me that you are even more amazing than I imagined! Thank you for being an incredible father and provider for our family. You take such good care of us, and we adore you. I am so thankful to be on this adventure with you and am excited for all that is to come!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our Concrete Jungle

So I have been excited to get back into a house over these last few days. But, this morning I was reminded of how our kids have adapted to our apartment and a-bit-more-urban life over these last two years. B is an early riser, and subsequently so is her mom. This morning she and I were up shortly after 5 am playing with her new stuffed puppy. We got out some ribbon and made a leash for it, by which she adorably pulled it around our condo.  

As she was leading (read: dragging) her dog around, walking past her and her brother's tricycles which were being stored inside in the hall, and then showing her puppy her "garden" (8 flower stickers she applied to our cabinet), I was giggling. I was giggling because it was so cute seeing her imagination at work in these creative ways of doing things "typical" suburb kids do for real all of the time. And, then I was thinking how fun it will be to have a real garden, be able to leave our bikes in our backyard, and maybe one day have a real puppy. Those things will be fun. But, in the meantime, we sure wouldn't have traded these experiences for anything. We certainly won't be spending nearly as much time at great public parks or the beach or be able to walk a block and be at our favorite library and the grocery store and the post office once we move, but we also won't have to have flowers with adhesive on them. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What I'll Miss...

J returned home on Sunday evening after spending 12 days in Ethiopia. The organization he works for is working on a documentary about the inspiring stories they have come across in their rehabilitative work with street children in the slums of northeast Africa. It's pretty exciting, so I'll post more as the project progresses. You can check out their blog in the meantime.

Nevertheless, we made it through the 12 days! But, J did not come home a moment too soon! We have our many visitors to thank for preserving my sanity: Tara (see previous post), as well as my brother, mom, and dad, all came and provided much entertainment and many fun memories for us all! We went to Hermosa Beach, Crystal Cove Beach, and Santa Monica State Pier, among other activities (so I guess we like the coast a bit!) You can check out some of the pics throughout this post. Here we are with Grandpa.

Overall, this trip made me certain of a few things:
1. I love my husband. I don't like it when he is away. But, I am more grateful for and proud of him than ever!
2. I have a great family and friends. I don't know what I'd do without them.
3. Our move back to Arizona is imperative for J's line of work and our family's survival.

This brings me to the next topic. As you may or may not have heard, our family will be moving back to AZ in September. This was a really bittersweet decision for us to make as we have so enjoyed our time in CA. We have grown in so many ways as a family, spiritually, and so on. However, it seems to make sense on a lot of levels as our next step in our family's journey. J will keep his current job and work remotely, but I will now have lots more help when he travels and it will be a lot less expensive to live which makes sense when you work for a non-profit. And, he and I just might get to go on a date without a little boy and girl in tow! Imagine that! As I have been working through all of our emotions about leaving I have come up with a list of things I will miss and things I most certainly won't.

What I'll Miss:
The precious friends we have made
Christian Assembly (the church we have been attending since we arrived here 2 years ago)
Our fun playdates
The beach
Exploring all of the great LA attractions (we just checked out the Natural History Museum on free day - what a blast!)
Trees (yeah, there are trees in AZ, but they aren't the same)
Gorgeous Parks
The beach, again
Amazing Weather
The diversity
Our own little family adventure
Having things within walking distance

Things I won't miss:
Paying a large sum of money to rent an apartment each month
Communal Laundry (apparently if you forget you left it in there, people get irritated. Or so I've heard :)
Having a miniature water heater that doesn't allow me to finish dishes before running out of hot water
Having to drive, sort, and collect our recycling
Not having a yard to run, play, paint, make mud in...
Traffic and Parking
Dreading J's travel
Overall Cost of Living
Not having any time for ourselves
Not having anytime together or with each child one-on-one
Only having little time with family and AZ friends
Having to load my kids into the stroller before I could get them into the car (yay for a garage!)

So, the good news is, we will still be able to come back and visit quite often as J will still need to make trips to this office. That eases a bit of our sadness, and I know we will make sure to have unlimited long distance in AZ so I can still talk with all of our friends in Cali. These two years have been so formative and beautiful for our family. We are excited for the adventures still to come! The AZ play date circuit and toddler attractions better watch out for us come this fall....