Monthly Archives: March 2012

Nature Day

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Today I decided to take the boys hiking by myself since the hubby had to go to work. We had a spectacular day exploring nature together and the boys totally rocked the trail. My little outdoorsmen never cease to amaze me.

As you can probably tell, I had my work cut out for me just trying to keep up:

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We spent a good part of the day catching tadpoles and spotting frogs, snakes and every insect we could find. We also spent time splashing in the ponds and creeks on this unusually warm spring day:

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Tadpoles galore:

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Do you see the frog?

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Lots of snails today, too:

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I may be a bit biased, but these were the cutest critters around today:

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Love my little hikers:

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In his element

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Today Big Brother went on a field trip with his class. When I had first found out that the trip was to none other than our favorite nature center and park, I was super stoked. A) It was a place that was familiar to Big Brother and B) it was an outside, nature-based activity. I knew he would be able to not only enjoy the trip, but that he would be able to participate and benefit from it as well.

You see, his teacher and aides have never seen that side of him before–the side where he is not screaming, slapping, or urinating on the adults…the side where he is not throwing toys, stomping his feet and thrashing about on the floor. This was our chance to show them the real Big Brother. We were going to be in his element.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.” – John Burroughs

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“Believe one who knows; you will find something greater in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” -
St. Bernard de Clairvaux

And guess what? He did as amazing as I knew he would. He hiked, caught tadpoles, picked and ate vegetables from the garden and explored the nature center and natural playground. His teachers and aides were so happy to see this side of him. They were quite shocked to learn just how much of a little outdoorsman he really is! I am so joyful that they got to see him away from school and in the setting that allows his soul to soar. Thank you sweet nature for being my child’s much needed sanctuary.

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” -Henry David Thoreau

Restoration

Renewed

Refreshed

Replenished

Rededicated

Restored

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Parenting is hard. Parenting children who come from a history of neglect, abuse and institutionalization is really hard. Most days require every last drop of strength I can muster to make sure that I am not only caring for my children well, but helping them to heal also. Throw in some significant special needs and it makes for what feels like a monumental, daily feat. In trying to be the best mom I could be, I neglected something….me.

Although I truly do love every moment of motherhood, being in perpetual motion can take a toll on one’s emotional health. So, for the first time since becoming a mother (almost 4 years ago!!) I packed my bags and left the children in the hands of my hubby. I joined hundreds of other adoptive mamas for a weekend of restoration at the Created for Care conference, which is a non-profit ministry designed to encourage, equip and bring rest to adoptive families through yearly retreats.

Saying that I needed this time of restoration would be a grand understatement. Although I was worried about how my children would handle my absence, they ended up doing great and I came home feeling like a new woman and a better mommy.

I laughed, cried, sobbed, worshipped and rejoiced with other mothers who get it. We even got to hear from adult adoptees and cried along with them as they shared their stories of loss and grief as well as joy. We heard from amazing mothers who were caring for 6, 10, 12 or more adopted children! For the first time ever, I was submersed in a group of women who understood. Sometimes, no words were even necessary. We shared our stories and asked each other for advice.

On more than one occasion I gripped the hand of a woman I had only known a few moments, sobbing “I understand, you are not alone.” New friendships were forged under the bond of this special journey of motherhood. A sense of belonging and understanding engulfed us as we celebrated the highs and lows of being mamas to children from hard places. We thanked God for guiding our journeys. We thanked God for bringing us together. We thanked God for our precious children. And somewhere in the midst of all this, I realized that I am worth being cared for, too.

During the weekend I took a moment to reflect and redirect myself. What do I stand for? What is important to me, aside from motherhood? And I knew the answers hadn’t changed, they had just gotten muffled in the noise of life.

Partner in healing

Defender of the orphan

Voice for the voiceless

I was left with that same uncomfortable feeling that I always try to push towards the back of my mind….the one that whispers “you have much work left to do…”

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Today was back to reality and I’m not going to lie, it was a tough day. Big Brother had a formal evaluation today at the children’s hospital. He has one more appointment before D-Day (diagnosis day). Even though it was a long and emotionally-draining day, I was able to approach it with strength, having been fully restored and replenished from the weekend.

I’ll leave you with some awesome organizations I learned about from my weekend…you should all check them out!!!

Light Gives Heat

Ordinary Hero

60 Feet

Jess at Diary of a Mom wrote this must-read post. Please take a moment to read and to share. Also, today is World Down Syndrome day, be sure to check out the link about Clarice, a child with Down Syndrome waiting for a forever family.

Blogging: why, what and who

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
-Anais Nin

Over the years I’ve often asked myself “why do I blog?” In the beginning, the answer was quite simple; I wanted to document our adoption journey to Little Man. Over the years, and several blogs later, I find that the reasons I blog are indeed very complex. About two years ago I had decided to only blog about our outdoor adventures and the joys of exploring nature as a family. It wasn’t long, however, before I felt complelled to write beyond just our outdoor escapades. I felt like I had something that was clawing, trying to find its way out of me. Then another adoption journey came and went and I found myself blogging about the highs and lows of adoption once more while still documenting our hiking/canoeing/camping fun. And then I realized the profound impact parenting children of trauma had on my life. And then I became a mother to a special needs child.

I found that I had a lot to say.

In fact, I sometimes think I have enough to fill a book or two….or three.

At first I blogged soley for me. It was my way to vent, my way to document the progress and regression for later reflection. It was even a way to store precious childhood memories for my children. My family, who all live in other towns and states, could also follow along in our daily lives.

But along my blogging journey something quite unexpected happened. I found friendship and community. I have been inspired by others and maybe even inspired a few bloggers along the way. I have learned things I wouldn’t have, seen things I wouldn’t have and been taken places I could only dream about through tales of travel and photographs.

And in return I have been supported, lifted up and validated. I have been shown that although our family has chosen a difficult path to travel, we are not alone. There are some who “get it”…the hard stuff that one can only know from parenting in the trenches. There are others who hear it and although they may not have had the same experiences, are supportive and reflective. There are others who are learning about trauma, adoption and autism who maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. Then there are the ones who just stop by because they truly care about what I–what we- have to say.

And to that, I say thank you. Thank you all for reading. Today I am going to share a blog award I received and I also want to do something else. I want to start a new blog roll filled with all the amazing and inspiring blogs that have been rocking my world lately. So, here it goes.

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First, the awards…

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I was recently nominated for a 3-in-1 blog award by Kristen at Let Life in Practices. Her blog is very inspiring and you should check it out when you get a chance. I am humbled that she finds my blog interesting enough to read each day! Kristen’s words are not only soothing to read, but her life lessons will make you stop and reflect on the choices and attitudes you choose each day. I thank you so much, Kristen, for offering this award to me!

As part of the award, I will list seven facts about me and then pass the award onto seven others.

Seven things about me:

1. I have two sons and they are seven months apart in age. The youngest one was adopted almost 4 years ago (!!) at the age of one. The oldest one was adopted last year right before his fourth birthday. They are considered virtual twins. Most people think they are biological brothers. Even though they are not, they are indeed REAL brothers. Did I confuse you? There will be a quiz on this topic tomorrow, so I hope you’re keeping up.

2. I’m addicted to caffiene. In our house, everyone knows that mama needs her coffee first thing in the morning. In fact, don’t even bother trying to talk to me unless you’re shoving a mug full of hot, glorious joe into my hands. Little Man often helps me make it in the morning. He’s a good boy.

3. Within the first hour of being a first-time mommy, I stood in a tiny, sweltering market in Vietnam trying to figure out what type of formula to buy. None of the labels were in English. No one spoke English. I stood staring at all the canisters for a good 10 minutes, trying not to cry before I finally just grabbed one. Little Man was strapped to me the entire time, wondering what in the world he had gotten himself into. Welcome to motherhood.

4. I have an advanced degree in Biochemistry. I have an unofficial PhD in ballon tieing :-) Guess which one gets more use.

5. I don’t like to wash dirty dishes. If I can, I pawn it off onto the hubby.

6. I teach college chemistry part-time and I really enjoy it.

7. My favorite time of each day is the early morning when the sun begins to rise, the birds begin to sing and the world still seems quiet and asleep. I am so grateful that I live in the woods and I am able to take full advantage of the early morning stillness…it truly recharges my soul.

Now to pass the award on…

1. Another Ordinary Miracle Join my dear in-real-life friend as she blogs about her four children, three who were adopted and one who was a miraculous micropremie who is now thriving and growing strong. You will be amazed by her grace and gratitude as she navigates being a mommy to four little ones!

2. A Different Normal Another dear friend who blogs about life with her amazing daughter with special needs. Rachel is an amazing, sweet mother with a beautiful family.

3. Thirdeye Mom Thirdeye mom will take you all around the world with her on her spectacular travels, this is a don’t miss blog!

4. Mama’s Got Wanderlust Another great blog about a traveling mama who is currently living abroud while raising her daughter.

5. It’s a Wunderful Life Come see a dad’s perspective on raising twin boys with autism. A wonderful, uplifting blog to read.

6. Crazy Wonderful Life Jodean blogs about her cute kiddos and is an excellent photographer. You will be inspired by her photos and artful creations.

7. Tales of a Mountain Mama You will be inspired to go outdoors with the family and create your own adventures after reading Mountain Mama’s blog. Definitely check it out to channel your own inner adventurer.

If your blog is listed above and you would like to accept your award, please link back to this blog and then pass the award on to seven others. Don’t forget to tell us seven things about yourself as well.

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But wait, there’s more! I am making a new blog directory. Check out these awesome blogs below that I’ve been reading lately. I will be adding more and more each day to a new tab at the top of my blog. Read and be inspired! Have a blog you would like me to check out? Leave a comment and let me know!

Outdoor/Nature Blogs

Family Wilds

Outside Mom

Go Explore Nature

Adventure Parents

The Kid Project

Cliff Mama

Special Needs Blogs

Diary of a Mom

Autism in a Word

Love that Max

Other great blogs

World Moms Blog

Mom Bloggers for Social Good

Special needs bike trailers

Remember this post? OK, I’ve been doing some more research and look what I’ve found….

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http://www.caboosetrailerbike.com/

I really like that this trailer seems very stable due to the 2 wheels, and it also can accomodate a large child, even into adulthood. Looks promising….I’ll keep everyone update, but I really like this trailer….

The Mom I Was Supposed to Be

Before I became a mom to two little boys from hard places, I had all kinds of grand ideas of what I envisioned motherhood to be. In fact, I even knew what kind of mother I was going to be. I knew what issues I was passionate about. I knew what mattered to me and what I stood for. I believed organic was good, processed was bad; natural was safer, chemicals were dangerous; plastic never, glass and wood always; technology nada, nature only. I thought I had it all figured out.

I had a game plan and I was going to follow through, gosh darnent!

And then it happened. On February 15, 2008, I received a phone call from our adoption agency. There was a little boy in Vietnam with medical special needs. He was 4 months old and he needed a family. “Would we like to be that family?” they had asked. They sent his picture to my email box. With one click of the mouse, my life changed forever. I saw my son’s face for the first time and I was totally smitten.

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My heart saored and my stomach turned flips. Was this really happening? After all these years, was I really going to be a mommy? Was this precious baby really my baby? I had never felt so much joy in all of my life. I felt like I was flaoting above the earth and waltzing through the clouds. I was going to be a mommy to Little Man.

Little did I know at the time that the next 6 months would be the most grueling, soul-crushing time of my life as we waited and fought tooth and nail to bring our son home. What turned into a political battle of wills between two nations resulted in one of the darkest times of my life. After watching our beloved son grow up through pictures in an orphanage 10,000 miles away, we finally boarded a plane to Vietnam after a long, hard fight. Our little baby that we hadn’t even met in real life yet was nearly a year old now. He was hardly a tiny baby anymore and we prayed he would be resistant to the wounds of institutionalization. Oh how I wish he could have been.

After 36 hours of travel, my son was placed into my arms and immediately all the would-of, could-of, should-be’s fell to the ground. The most important turths of life selectively came into focus. My son was safe, alive and in my arms. We were all together. The battle was over. Little Man had survived his first year alone in an orphanage. We were all alive and safe.

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That evening-our first evening together as a family of three-I would learn just how dark and horrible the downward spiral of institutionalization can be for a child. And in that long, sad night, I said goodbye to all my frivalous mommy plans and laid a new path instead. It would be a path of healing, of gratitude and of awareness. It would be a path whose goal had nothing to do with being trendy, popular, mainstream or full of ideals. My new path would hinge on the fact that life is so fragile, so short and so magnificent that I needn’t worry about the small, fleeting issues of daily life. Maybe the trauma of the preceeding months had reshaped how I saw the world and motherhood. Maybe I was just too busy and overwhelmed to even care. Or maybe I was just so grateful at the chance to be a mother to this child that nothing else even mattered. All those other issues seemed so silly compared to what I now knew to be important.

While I still prefer to stick to my ideals when given a chance, I don’t worry if I fall short. Because around here, that happens often, especially now with a special needs child in the picture. Somedays we are lucky if we even check one issue off of the list. And I’m okay with that. I am so thankful that this new path has taught me time and time again to take nothing for granted…to find joy in every day and to remember that life really is a miracle. Enjoy it now and everything else will fall into place. Or at least you won’t feel guilty if it doesn’t.