Saturday, December 24, 2011

right around the corner

i'm a swirl of thoughts and emotions today. i keep thinkin about this time last year - the 24 hours of unexpected tumult before riley was born, the mornin of her birth, the conversations and decisions on christmas day, the hospital stay, the tears and floods of emotion....and then riley's homecoming.

i think about her birthmom, who texted this mornin and asked for a picture or a video. she said she's havin a hard time today. of course she is. i can't imagine what christmas must be like for her. despite my edgier days (as recorded in my previous post), i really do want to be gracious and kind and patient. i need to be those things. i need to grow into a better version of myself where riley's birthmom is concerned. so after lunch, we got the camera out and tried to catch a few of riley's tricks - walking with the walker thing she got for christmas a few days ago, clappin for herself, pointin to her hair and pj's, and her latest face - the furrowed brow. we had fun and laughed and laughed. i just emailed them. the caregiver/fixer in me wishes there was somethin we could do to help bring her closure. somethin we could do to convince her she made the best decision. but we can't really. only she and The Lord can work to find Peace together.

i think about the last year and how in so many ways, it's been the best year of my life. i look at riley - while she's layin on her back, and i'm changin her diaper....w/a gigglin mouth full of teeth, a soft and squishy tummy, and a head of crazy hair...and i can hardly believe it. a baby in our house, in our arms...the pitter patter of a little girl chasin after us...the squeals of delight...the laughter when we wrestle...the little bitty socks that have disappeared....the livin room that's a danger zone due to the toys strewn about...our first arguments over whether or not she can play w/the dvds...her enjoyment and peace in bein outside... i think about the mornins i "sleep in" and have the babbles of a baby serve as my alarm clock....i think about the near constant desire to creep into her room and watch her sleep and the urge to pick her up and rock her for hours... i love the way she sounds, the way she smells, the way she looks, the way she eats and laughs and plays...

i think about Christmas. i think about how Christmas will never ever be the same again. in lots of ways. i think about the anticipation of birth and the community of people waitin for the Good News. i think about how wonderful it will be for riley to have a birthday-eve her whole life. i think about celebration and what Joy really is. i think about gratitude - for Grace, for Prayer, for longings fulfilled.

i think about wakin up tomorrow mornin and hearing the sounds of a happy one year old baby chatterin herself awake. i think about walkin in to get her out of her crib. in some ways, she'll think it's a mornin like every other mornin. in other ways, it's like she fully wakes up to a brand new day every mornin. maybe we'll sing. maybe we'll dance. maybe we'll laugh and play. we'll definitely delight in our little girl.

Beauty is everywhere today.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

the rest of the story

we had a fairly rocky 7-10 days over thanksgiving....lots of things seemed to land on miss riley all at once - travel, a cold and cough, teething of molars, family, a wedding, and daddy workin a lot (which meant very little riley-daddy time). it was an unexpected rough patch, and although we seem to be well over the worst of it, the tension has stayed w/me some (and the anticipatory stress i'm havin over the busy-ness of this month isn't helpin).

have you read eastman's "are you my mother?" surely. remember the last not-my-mother thing, the big thing that the baby bird finds? not the kitten or the hen or the dog or the cow. the snort. when the baby bird realizes his mistake, he exclaims, "oh no! you are not my mother! you are a scary snort!"

days like today, when my temper and patience are equally short....i feel like riley looks at me and has that very same thought: "oh no! you are not my mother! you are a scary snort!" you look like my mother....you sound like my mother...you feel like my mother....but you are most definitely a scary snort.

and i feel rather snort-ish toward the birthmother right now, too. sometimes, i'm gracious. i feel gracious, and i behave graciously. but not always. sometimes, my phone dings w/a new text message, and when i see it's from her, i pretend i didn't see it for a while. when she wished us a happy thanksgiving, i responded "thanks! you too." but what i wanted to say was 'mind your own business.' when she asks if there's anything we want her to get riley for christmas, i don't know what to say. or when she says she's havin a hard time w/riley's birthday comin up....well, i'm just not very nice about it today.

i know - someone readin this is probably thinkin "well cut off communication w/her. it's your right, and your call." i know. but i don't think we need to make a decision like that just b/c i'm tired and moody.

today, it's just one of those things i want to forget about. i look at, listen to, and hold our beautiful one, and i most certainly don't want to be a snort to her.... but today, i can't say the same about her birthmother.

so there it is. the ugly truth.

Friday, November 4, 2011

exploring oceans

an ocean to explore....

in our western culture, we think everything's linear - life is a series of sequential events, people grow in developmental stages, and we conquer things w/in measurable parameters. sometimes this is true. sometimes things are linear. but not everything. and maybe not even most things. my current delving into the recesses of my heart and riley's adoption isn't linear. i think i try to make it linear, formulaic. it seems easier to me when struggles are perceived as equations....when i treat life like a marathon, tallyin mile markers along the way. 'seems' is the operative word here....

over and over again, i'm reminded that learnin to be a follower of Christ, a wife, a mother, a friend aren't one-dimensional objectives....they're experiences full of color and mess, beauty and sorrow, struggle and redemption. life and Life in The Lord are oceans to be explored....

one of the driving forces behind my current pursuit into adoptive mothering is a....what?...a sense? a wondering? a beckoning, even? i don't have the right word....but it's like there's a part of me that knows there's somethin else about this adoption thing that i'm not gettin. that the frustration and grief and confusion i'm carryin can't only be evidence of what i don't have, of what i can't do, of who i can't be....but evidence of what is offered. it's like....it's like bein hungry. when you're hungry, your hunger pangs and thoughts of food aren't only evidence of your lack of food....not only evidence of your desire for food....but also evidence that there is somethin out there that promises to satisfy.

these questions i'm wrestlin w/about adoption and riley and bein the kind of mother i dream of bein....i don't think they're just about the next 50 years of my life....i think they're drawin me to The Lord...maybe in ways i wouldn't know if i was able to conceive and carry our "natural" children.

i think there's somethin more to this than meets the eye.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

difficult rights

i think we've been fortunate to adopt in the 21st century. the amount of information available to adoptive parents (or anyone interested in adoption) covers a wide range of subjects - everything from the logistics of the adoption process to literature discussing open adoption to bonding w/your adopted baby. technology helps, too. the access to all of this information is convenient and readily available, day or night. and there are online support groups....and while they don't offer the same degree of connection that an actual, 'we all meet in the same room and drink coffee' group would, they do help lessen the sense of isolation somewhat.

and yet....even in a world w/unprecedented information available...and in a time when candor is appreciated....there are some things that are just flat-out hard to talk about. hard to face. hard to wrestle with.

in adoption, and in most other aspects of life as best i can tell, we have a tendency to gloss over the more difficult places. if somethin's confusing, frustrating, sorrowful, or maddening, we're not sure what to do about it, what to do with it. we sure don't know what to say to someone who's in the middle of one of those places. so we tell others and ourselves - it'll work out. it'll be worth it. God has a plan.

and all those things are true. so very, very true. but 2 years ago, someone tellin me "it'll work out" didn't do me a hill of beans of good. this time last year, i was hangin on by a thread as we were tossed about on the seas of the birthmother's turmoil. i'd be so mad some days i couldn't see straight. all i could say was "i know this will be worth it in a few months, but that doesn't help me today." and yes, God's Goodness surpasses our understanding....but that doesn't answer all of my questions.

more specific to adoption, there are certain things that are uncomfortable to talk about. the money, for instance. the final cost of bringin home a baby through adoption, and the twists and turns just down the financial road were almost too much. or things like.....well, things like i've written about before - gettin to know the birthmother, the awkwardness and un-natural-ness of that relationship, and the inexpressible compassion we have for her...and how that compassion isn't always steady. or things like race and gender and special needs. these issues are so personal, so potentially controversial, so uncomfortable.... but in adoption, they have to be addressed. they can't be glossed over. you can't pretend they're not there. you can't hope they'll just work themselves out.

and i'm beginnin to wonder, too, if other questions don't need to be addressed as frankly, as straight-forwardly, as gently and courageously. such as....

(deep breath.....and bear w/me....these are things i haven't written or really talked about before, so the words may be rambly)

the idea of rights.

in this country, individual rights are a big damn deal. as they should be, maybe. i don't know - i'm not a philosopher or politician. but as americans, we are raised to believe we have rights - the right to vote, the right to be treated w/respect, the right to education, etc. i think this concept is deeply ingrained in us....even in terms of relationships and family. we have the right to have as many children as we want - unlike parts of the eastern world. women have the right to choose whether or not they want to give birth to their unborn baby. but what if you can't have children?

when i was in nursing school, i was fascinated by the body....how every aspect of a human being is intricately connected (mind, body, emotions, relationships, etc). one of the most fascinating facets was/is the life-giving power we have...from conception to birth to raising our children. the way we're designed to reproduce and nurture life, especially for women, is utterly amazing. down to the smallest detail - like a newborn can't see more than about 12" at first, and this is generally the distance from a woman's breast to her face, so that the first thing that newborn sees and focuses on and begins to recognize is his mother's face, even as he's receiving physical nourishment... or how unborn children can hear what's goin on in the outside world so that they recognize their parents' voices at birth...and how unborn children can feel the sway of their mother's gait and often times, after birth, go to sleep in their mother's arms when she's walkin b/c that's the rhythm their used to. i mean seriously! it's unbelievable!!!!!

but again...what if you can't carry a child? what about all of those built-in mechanisms to bond w/your mother and father....the ones who have cared for you the first 9 months of your tiny life? what happens to all of that if a baby and mother are matched after birth?

what about the birthmother's built-in, innate, natural "rights" to her child? just b/c a judge bangs a gavel and a piece of paper says "adoption finalization" doesn't dissolve the connection b/w a woman and the baby she conceived and gave birth to.

all of that to get here - one of the questions that lingers around the corners of my heart is this - do i have a right to riley? legally, there's no question. that was taken care of march 11. but i'm not talkin about legality. i'm talkin down deep....she's not our flesh and blood. her genetic makeup belongs to someone else. she's forever ours, i know that.....but is she thoroughly ours? can she be? how does that work? if we're made of genes and flesh and blood, and we're made to reproduce and pass those things on to the next generation, what happens when your family no longer shares them?

we're so proud when we look back at pictures and notice family resemblance - especially physically. sons who look like their fathers or uncles or great grandfathers. daughters who look like their grandmothers, cousins, and sisters. where did you get your eyes? your hair? your weird pinkie toe? and what about your quirks - like on forest gump when he meets his son for the first time after 6 or so years, and they sit down together in front of the tv and both cock their heads to the side. didn't that scene just melt your heart? does your heart not swell w/pride and a sense of deep belonging when someone says, "gosh, you look like your daddy." these connections run more deeply in us than we know, i think. we put a lot more stock in them than we realize. and adoption splinters that bedrock.

even when you're white, and you adopt a white baby. even though her hair color could pass as combination of yours and your husband's. she did not come from our bodies. she will not look like any of our pictures from when we were little. maybe a little, but not really. not year after year after year. and i can't help but wonder at times - do i feel differently b/c of that?

someone might be readin this and thinkin - what awful things to think about. you shouldn't dwell on negative thoughts. you have her. be grateful and move on.

maybe that approach works for some people. but it doesn't work for me. riley will be 10 months old in 4 days, and the lingering questions haven't disappeared. i'm not particularly proud of my uncertainty....but ignorin it or hopin time will take care of it hasn't worked. at all. so the only thing i know to do is drag it out into the light and see if it's as big and scary as it feels sometimes.

b/c i love her. deeply, adoringly, i love her. and i want my love for her to be good, true, high, and long. i want my love for her to be refined and redeemed if needed. i want to be a good, honest, devoted mother....not one who hides from hard things or hard questions. and b/c i want to be able to have an honest conversation w/her when/if she talks about not lookin like anyone in our families' photo albums.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

adoption

i've been in a funk lately. in the last few weeks, we've moved into a new house, huntin season has started (which means josh is gone a lot more), and school started back up. i've been a little overwhelmed. i've never been a fan of movin and am notorious for never completely unpackin all the boxes. i'm also a procrastinator, so put all of that together, and you get a "i'd rather ignore everything and watch tv" funk. plrbgh.

as i've reflected on how i got here, into this funk, i've realized writin is often such a breath of fresh air for me...it can help me find a way out. writin helps me reflect. helps me become more aware of what's goin on inside and out. helps me see the light at the end of lots of proverbial tunnels. it's just flat-out good for me.

bein a parent of a 9-month old easily opens avenues for words and descriptions and stories....avenues that most other parents can relate to, sympathize with, or laugh at. and i enjoy this time of life, immensely. i love that riley gets cereal boogers from stickin her finger, knuckle deep, up her nose while eatin, smilin and gigglin all the while. in the midst of gettin frustrated w/her squirmy little body during a diaper change, i can't help but laugh when her bare-bottomed little body escapes and crawls like crazy across the floor. she's somehow learned to flash a smile when a camera is held up and delights in chewin on whatever she can find. she's quite vocal and regularly competes with the pastor for the congregation's attention on sunday mornins. we're just truckin right along....and she's growin like crazy (in the 90% for wt now!)...all three of us are havin a ball.

and i'm not only a parent of a 9-month old....i'm an adoptive parent of a precious baby girl to whom i did not give birth. some days, this is just a simple fact. others, it's a hard pill to swallow. i don't think i can say that it's a realization that ever brings warm and fuzzy feelings. and to say that i don't ever think about it, or that it's a non-issue now that riley is here would...well, frankly....be a lie.

it's this part of my life... no, wait.... it's more like a new color that sometimes shades and sometimes adds new beauty.... it's this color that i think i need to explore w/some degree of intentionality. it's the kinda color that can shade and shadow things as easily as it can invite and illuminate other things.... and i think exploring it more deliberately will bring healing to me....and hopefully one day, a grace-filled refuge for riley to explore for herself.

i'm thinkin this blog will serve as my means of wordy exploration....so reader, beware :)

i hope to write a bit more consistently and a bit more candidly regarding the life of an adoptive parent....and i hope to do so w/o apology. in a few days' time, i guess we'll see how determined i really am...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

so.....

...two rather monumental things have occurred in the last few days.

1. josh and i finally found a house to buy here in seymour. super excited! hopefully movin in by the end of the month. we'll miss the character of our little white farm house and the most wonderful landlords in the whole world (really- the WHOLE world. i'm not jokin)...but it'll be nice to have a place we can call our own.

2. yesterday, we met w/riley's birthfamily.

yep. we did.

i intended to write a blog beforehand. but that didn't happen. so now there isn't a before and after sort of comparison to read and interpret. oh well.

ya know, there are a lot of days when i don't even think about riley bein adopted. it's not quite like i've forgotten necessarily....it's just the dailiness of life sorta washes over the rocks of our journey....eroding the jagged edges a little. and then there will be moments in which the edges, even those that are eroded and smooth, stick up outta the water a little. sometimes it's while i'm filin stuff away in the desk and come across the adoption folder - bulging and semi-organized. sometimes it's when i'm checkin out at united and the friendly cashier asks how old my baby is and if i'm still nursin her. sometimes it's when people (friends and strangers alike) comment on how riley's appearance favors josh's or mine. sometimes, it's when i get a text from her birthmother.

we've texted w/her off and on since bringin riley home. we rarely, if ever, initiate the textin or emailin....but we answer her questions, tell her stories, email pictures. contact w/her has slowly diminished in frequency over the last 7+ months. she's kind and considerate... and still immature.

all of the books and articles and experts advise adoptive parents to make all sorts of decisions, short- and long-term, prior to meeting the birthfamily....and definitely prior to the hospital experience. and they're advice makes sense. they argue that the emotional gravity of the relationship and the weight of all that happens at the hospital can lead folks (generally on the adoptive side) to agree to things they don't feel comfortable with, things that they'll regret later on. so, we tried to be good students and had what felt like a hundred conversations about how much contact we were willing to have w/riley's birthmother...we talked about this before we were even matched, then we talked just before we met her, then we talked several times b/w meetin her and goin to the hospital.....and we communicated our expectations w/her. we were all on the same page - talk and text and email before the baby's birth....only pictures and occasional emails afterwards.

then we arrived at the hospital. it was like walkin thru a drought-stricken desert for six years, and in a matter of moments, walkin into a monsoon. so many things we thought we had so firmly decided, so many opinions we held...they were washed away. the birthmother wanted to see us in the hospital. so we walked next door. her mother wanted to be the carrier of the baby - carryin riley back and forth b/w our room and the birthmother's room. and we welcomed the gesture. the birthmother wanted us to come to her room to get riley that last time...and we did. we took a great big deep breath and walked into the room w/empty arms....and came out carryin our baby girl. the birthmother wanted to see us again....in the future....6-9 months down the road. josh and i looked at each other, our hearts melted again, and we agreed.

a person. a human being. that's who the birthmother is. not an idea. not a statistic. not a vehicle for our fulfillment. not a long string of adjectives like irresponsible and immature, etc.... a person. a young woman who got into a tight spot. a woman who loved her unborn baby so deeply that she was willing to place her into our arms, hearts, and lives. a woman who carried a baby for 9 months, kissed her, and said goodbye. josh and i will never understand the road she's taken, the grief she's experienced, or the questions she may always have.

we decided that we wanted to do what we could to help her.... help her grieve, help her heal. we can't do much, but we can assure her of the redemption of her decision. we can assure her riley is well and healthy. we can assure her that we absolutely adore the baby she carried and birthed.

so yesterday, we ate chinese food w/riley's birthfamily - mother, grandmother, aunt, and nephew. they held her, took pictures, asked questions. we laughed at riley's funny games and faces and habits. we told stories. we ate. then we left.

that was it. it was....anticlimactic. it was nice and not threatening and relatively brief. and then over.

before, i was anxious. edgy. a little fidgety. all sorts of jagged edges scrapin thru the waters w/in....and maybe i'll write about those some days.

all kinds of other questions will undoubtedly arise....it'll be messier than we'd prefer, i'm sure. we'll eventually have to decide about future visits....there will come a time when bein in contact w/riley's birthmother will be more about what's best for riley than what's helpful for her birthmother. i'd kinda rather decide today and not look back rather than wrestle w/it as we all grow and change and age....but i kinda don't think that's best.

we get funny looks from most folks when we tell them we're still in contact w/the birthmother. but that's okay. for now, it's worth it.



Sunday, July 31, 2011

oh summer


the past 2 months have brought about lots of laughs. like this one - riley's first jaunt in the sprinkler.

while eatin, riley's showin more and more interest in the spoon...and i'm not real sure what to do about it. when she gets her little hand around the handle, and i try to reclaim in, food flies. when i let her hands flap about, they often hit the spoon, and food flies. when i give her her own spoon, she chews and chews, and when tryin to get it out of her squash-filled mouth, food flies in a catapulted fashion. and we laugh.

she's almost crawlin... she currently pulls herself w/her forearms on the ground, pushes w/her right leg, and drags her left leg. her poor little left knee stays red most of the time. she'll occasionally get up on all fours, rock back and forth, and seriously consider a different form of mobility....but as soon as she sets her sights on a rattle, her brush, my toes, or the stack of books we don't let her chew on, she flops down to her belly and army crawls at a pretty good pace...huffin and puffin like she's climbin uphill. and we laugh.

she plays a game....she tucks her chin down towards her chest and looks up at you w/a most serious look...and won't move until you make the same face. as soon as you return the favor, she lifts her sweet little face up and grins from ear to ear. and we laugh.

i could go on and on....the hundreds of things she does that melt us, capture us, still us...the few things she does that make us cringe (like this really high-pitched squeal thing)... she brings such joy and delight and peace to our lives. not only is it a joyful thing to watch her, love her, play w/her....it's also a joyful thing to become parents...to realize we're growin into these people we've talked about bein for so long.

even though it's a little late, a happy first father's day to joshua....a joy to have such a beautiful baby girl, a joy to parent w/him, a joy to watch him become a wonderfully strong, tender daddy.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

thrilled

more often than not....well, actually, almost every moment of my days are filled with what i'd imagine most other new moms' days and thoughts are filled with. becomin a parent for the first time is unlike anything else in all the world. it's beautifully messy, awkward, mysterious, and surprisingly frustrating - and that's just the short list.

like probably every other parent out there, we think our baby girl rocks. she's just awesome. it's that simple.

one of the most recent new-parent discoveries is havin my heart swell w/pride. i've experienced what feels like a sea of emotion for our little one - gratitude, awe, adoration, joy, uncertainty, helplessness, overwhelmed-ness, stranger-ness and familiarity, celebration.... but until quite recently, i don't know that i would have included pride in that list.
the trigger for this pride seems silly when i say it out loud or type it for all the world to see...but chances are, i'm not the only new mama who's felt this way.

as i wrote earlier, we tried the rice cereal thing a couple days ago. the first time went exceedingly well. tomorrow, it may be a disaster. a day might come when pureed peas don't go as smoothly. but the rice cereal, for about the last 60hrs, has been a huge success. each time we've set her in the high chair, strapped on the bib, and soaked up the sweetest moments of sharing our first meals together, a new but undefined wave has come over me....w/each feeding, the wave seemed stronger...and it was just a few hours ago that i realized the wave's name is pride. i'm so proud of her!! and bein proud of her for these seemingly tiny accomplishments far outweighs any pride i've had for my own feats. how marvelous is that?!


it's days like this.....sundays, when i deliberately slow down and attempt to rest and learn what sabbath is intended to be....that life is most beautiful. days when i put the to-do lists aside...let the dirty clothes stay scattered here and there...leave the tv off....and instead spend hour upon hour tellin riley all sorts of stories and listenin intently as she tells me her own....when i lay in the floor w/her and read books...walk outside w/her snug against my chest...and laugh and play and tickle and sing until i force myself to put her down for a nap.... days like this are what i've dreamed of for so long. i don't know that i've ever been more grateful.

all the fun things

all sorts of fun things are happenin around here lately...




riley tried and loved rice cereal! she's been eyein' us pretty closely as we shovel food into our mouths the last few weeks and seemed all too eager to have some shoveled into her own. it's so fun! she opens her mouth about as wide as the door of an airplane hanger. sometimes she smiles and laughs in the middle of tryin to get it off the spoon, so it goes anywhere but in her mouth. yesterday evenin, i was tryin to coax her a little (it was her windin down time). when i opened my mouth so she'd mimic me, she just smiled and laughed. now why she thinks it's hilarious for her mama to open her mouth like that is beyond me....and the years of 'my mom's weird looks' have already begun.

her skin's been understandably dry the last few weeks (similar to most of texas lands these days), so we've been givin her a bath every 2-3 days. well, needless to say, i haven't figured out how to keep the cereal out of various crevices... last nite, for instance, she got it b/w her toes, in her left ear, both nostrils, and right thigh fold. how that happened is beyond me... i mean, she hasn't even really found her toes yet, so they were never close to her mouth. i don't know. but we had a blast!

she's also diggin her wonderbug. she especially likes the parts she can grab, pull her way, and cram into her mouth. makes sense, i suppose, since her first 2 teeth are already in!!
she's rollin and wigglin all over the place. the blanket that we lay her on used to be so big...and now? we can hardly keep her on it for more than a couple minutes w/o havin to reposition her.

we were SO happy to meet riley's newest cousins - silas and lydia sims. they were en route from kentucky to levelland, and we were glad to offer a rest stop. it's funny seein babies that are younger and smaller than your own - it made riley seem like a beast!

well, it's sunday mornin, and i was just tryin to get in a quick catch up blog before church. better get goin...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

snapshot


it's saturday nite. i should be packin for our trip home tomorrow. it takes exponentially longer to pack when a baby is involved. riley's sound asleep in her room. josh is out workin. and i'm sittin here in our rockin chair.

a couple hours ago, i was sittin here rockin our sweet baby girl. she was takin her last little nap of the day. one of the sweetest time of the day for us right now - we hold her during that last nap, and it's one of the only times she'll fall asleep in our arms these days. i looked around the room...my ever-present need to pick up and clean and attempt to keep things tidy gnawin at me, as usual. shoes, thanks you cards, throw pillows, baby books, a kleenex box, blankets, and baby clothes all strewn about. and then, i looked right across the room at the couch. the far end of it had this random and somehow acutely expressive assortment of items.

a foam dart that josh shot out of a nerf gun. (a gun, by the way, that i bought for myself a few months ago at the urging of a dear friend.) a journal i'm keepin for riley. teething gel. a rattle. a teething ring. and a wooden stackable ring set...that's not stacked evenly b/c josh and riley were playin w/it last. when i'm the last one to play w/it, it's obvious - the colors and sizes are all stacked exactly as they should be :)

and when i saw the cushion's display, a wave of sweet gratitude swept thru me and settled the gnawin w/in. then i looked around the room, and rather than seein a list of odds and ends that needed to be put away, i saw a dozen other snapshots of our lives... the blanket, singing lamb, green outfit, and baby books in the middle of the floor...cap, car magazine, sunflower seeds, and tennis shoes...baby monitor, pledge, journal, glass of water...

tonite, it's good. i'm glad that it's obvious that we live here. in high school, a good friend of mine and the family's (and also a frequent guest) said "your house isn't messy, it's just well lived in." :) kinda funny....kinda euphemism-ish...but also kinda endearing.

i'm so deeply thankful that there's a snapshot of our lives sittin on the couch...and that it's a snapshot of the squishable beauty that's overtaken us in the last 4 1/2 months.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

fabulous


fabulous.

my first mother's day was fabulous!

not really b/c any extraordinary happened on sunday, may 8, 2011.... oh, a few funny things happened. we went to church. riley was great...just spit up...a lot. we went thru 2 burp rags, a handful of paper towels (used to clean the splattered mess on the floor), and a bib. it was all over her pretty dress, down my arm, on josh's boot, and squished b/w the bottom of my foot and the sandal i was wearin. yep. sunday mornin spit up. she also burped loud enough to cause several people in the congregation to gasp, out loud. that's my girl! ... and then of course, i had to spend the majority of the day studyin...but our cute as pie little girl was just sweet as she could be and talkative and served mostly to distract me for hours on end :)

so nothin spectacular happened on mother's day....except that it was finally a day i could celebrate. i wasn't any of the things i was for so many mother's days before now...sad, longing, confused, frustrated, shadowy, tearful... nope. finally, i could celebrate...i could be glad and joyful from the top of my head to the tips of my toes - and i was!

typically, i'm not a good celebrator. christmas is weird...it's a confusing crossover holiday w/a mix of materialistic gift giving and 'reason for the season' jargon. i should note that i'm not opposed to either one. i don't have a problem w/gift giving as an expression of relationship. i love tryin to find gifts people will enjoy, appreciate, laugh at. and i love Jesus, and i'm very glad He was born.... but how or why the two realms have become so controversially intertwined is beyond me, and it makes for annual confusion and stress. also, i'm not an over-the-top birthday-er. one of the biggest fights josh and i got in while we were engaged was over his birthday...but that's another blog for another time :). i don't know why birthdays aren't a huge deal to me....maybe it's b/c i had a wonderful family who has always acknowledged it (even if the parties and cakes and presents were months late - it's a donnell thing). so maybe i'm just spoiled and take birthdays for granted. or maybe it's just b/c i've had a birthday since the beginning of my time. regardless, i'm admittedly not a good birthday-er.

but mother's day? now this is somethin i can celebrate! and it's liberating to be gratefully celebratory.

so it was wonderful. a sincere thanks to friends and family who sent texts, made phone calls, wrote emails, or left facebook messages for me. every one made me smile...and want to do a jig.

a couple other updates....

thanks for fb suggestions about nighttime diapers. we're currently tryin the next size up, and it seems to be doin the trick.

we received riley's new birth certificate in the mail and few days ago, and i went to the social security office in town to apply for a new number for her. after that's completed, we'll be about as officially finished w/the adoption process as you can be.

riley's neck is much better. the picture above (my favorite picture at the moment!) really shows how her little head was leanin....but we're workin w/her in lots of little ways throughout the day, and it's improving.

she's back to sleepin thru the nite. she's in her own room, and she's puttin herself to sleep at nite! woo-hoo!

school's over...at least for a couple weeks. (hence the long blog this mornin.) i'm so excited, i don't know what i want to do first....read a book? frame pictures? paint the swing???? oh - i know - take a nap!

well, i guess that's probably more than enough for now. if you haven't had a chance, read the most recent blog - josh wrote one and posted a few pictures and a video. cuteness!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers Day


Today is a big day in the McCrary household. It is Lens' first mother day. This is our girl on her first mothers day. She is without clothes because she spit up all over them at church today. Being married to lens, I never thought I would see her glow as much as I saw her today showing her little girl off and pronouncing that it is mothers day, as tho, I might forget. It could only have been better if she wouldn't have had to spend all evening studing for her final tomorrow.

Speaking of studing, my sister graduated from law school today!!! WOW. Mendi, I am really proud of you and am glad that Riley has an Aunt like you.

Well Im not one for many words, so I am going to try to upload a video, maybe it will work.



video

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

all sorts of things


let's see.... riley bear's 4 month birthday (if you can call it that) came and went this week. the last month or so has brought w/it a bit less screamin, a trip to the strebeck's (she loved morgan and athan!), a wildfire that got a little too close to the house, and her first easter. she fell asleep during church but woke up and grinned for all of her adoring fans after the service. her nites of 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep are gone - she's wakin up every nite b/w 3-4. and she seems to right on track developmentally....by "right on track," i mean almost exactly.

by 4 months, babies should be able to roll over and should be reaching for objects and holdin on to them. well, at about 3 months and 25 days, she achieved both tasks. now, of course, she won't stay on her back very long at all - it's off to the rollin races!

we also went to the dr earlier this week. last friday, we noticed her little head was leanin to the left almost all of the time. she still had good range of motion and was trackin things just fine, but she was just a little cock-eyed. i initially thought everything was fine, no worries. but then my nurse brain kicked in, and by monday mornin, i was convinced i had keenly recognized about 4 other irregularities, all pointin to some sort of neurological malfunction.

so we went to the dr who put us all at ease. just a case of toricollis (though hers isn't considered congenital) caught early. basically, her neck muscles aren't equal in strength....probably (as josh and i have since concluded) due to how we always hold her in our left arms to feed her. so we have to stretch her neck a few times a day and change some simple ways that we play w/her...ensuring that she's movin her head to both sides, etc. we'll keep workin w/her, and it should resolve.

what else?????

oh! last week josh decided to have a daddy-daughter trip into town. it was the first time just the two of them left the house. he took her to the courthouse (where his office is), the gas station (where he gets free cokes, and the insurance company (where our friends are). and yes - we do live in a small town. josh said she did really well. she was wide-eyed and took in the whole experience. didn't make a sound almost the entire time....until they got back in the car and headed home....then she let loose and talked and talked and talked all the way back to the house. it was as if she was sayin, "daddy! guess what i go to do? i saw all sorts of new things and met all sorts of new people....." so cute!

alright. a whole blog in one sittin - how 'bout that?! better get goin before i'm unexpectedly interrupted :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

hello, world!


so many firsts....

riley screamed thru her first engagement party and slept thru most of her first trip to wal-mart. go figure.

she wore her first bow to church this mornin, and it stayed on.

it's finally not cold anymore, so she's in the other room takin her first all-i'm-wearin-is-my-diaper nap.

she didn't much care for her first trip out to the clothes line w/me.

she has her first cousins who are younger than she is. didn't take long!


and drum roll, please........ she slept thru her first fishin trip. (and by fishin trip, i mean josh fished while i sat on the bank and let riley sleep).


our riley bear can put on quite the show these days. she either screams and generously shares her unhappiness w/all w/in earshot...or she smiles and coos and makes all sorts of funny sounds. she likes to play "this little piggy...," and she's diggin her "the very hungry caterpillar book."

other than that, our lives are probably like most everyone's else's who has a baby...the house is a wreck, we look (and feel) tired almost all of the time, and we're not as uptight as we were just a few months ago.
that's really about all i know today. nothin terribly exciting....though i'm sure as soon as i click "publish post," i'll think of half a dozen stories that would have been much more entertaining.

hasta la pasta.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

allow me to introduce

officially. legally. for always ours.

riley layne mccrary.

Monday, March 7, 2011

funny. sweet, gettin better.still. very good. exciting. thankful.

funny thing - do me a favor. take both your arms and reach up overhead. now....when riley stretches, and w/all her might lifts her arms up, they don't come anywhere close to stretchin higher than the top of her noggin. it's hilarious.

sweet thing - when riley's about 1/2-3/4 asleep and her eyelids are doin all the work to stay awake, we can light rub her nose or trace her eyebrows w/our fingers, and she gets as still as a cold winter nite. it's marvelous.

gettin better thing - the screamin is only in spurts and only during normal-person-wakin hours. hallelujah.

still thing - when she does let those lungs loose, you better take cover. it's the oddest feelin...she'll cry and scream for a little bit, and when she calms down, i feel like i've just run several miles uphill...like this huge faucet inside opens wide and just about all of me drains right out.

very good thing - we're goin on a week now of riley bear hibernatin thru the nite. and by hibernatin, i mean sleepin 11-12hrs. yes, ma'am, 11-12hrs.

exciting thing - we just found out, on relatively short notice, that we'll be goin to court this friday (!!!) for finalization. just so happens we'll already be in lubbock, so it's conveniently timed, too. we'll meet the lawyer a few minutes beforehand...then we go stand before the judge, answer a few questions, and then the judge declares...somethin...i'm sure her words will resound deep w/in our hearts, but i haven't the slightest clue what those words might be. anyway...the judge does her thing, then we head downstairs, sign a few papers...and just like that, the adoption is complete. crazy, huh? years of struggle....months of waitin....then a few minutes inside a courthouse to seal the deal. riley will legally become ours...a mccrary...new name, new birth certificate and all.

thankful thing - been home w/the fam for a few days, and it's been good. had some good time w/the whole crew....complete w/cousin danielle tryin her best to get riley to play w/her :)

so that's life lately. it's past midnite now...i'm gettin dangerously close to the bleary-eyed phase...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

sweet thang

brad the social worker came yesterday for our second post-placement visit. he witnessed first-hand one of riley the baby's rough days and how josh the daddy and lindsey the mama handle such times. it wasn't terrible. riley wasn't entirely inconsolable...but she definitely let us all know she was present and very much in charge. it seems as if our little girl has a flare for the dramatic.

words i would use to describe our girl: cuddle-bug, tempermental, moody, fun, vocal, delightful, and...potentially high maintenance.
words i would not use to describe her: content, mellow, easy, quiet.

we absolutely adore her!

she's growin like a weed and still eatin like a horse. she's well into her 3-month wardrobe now, except her feet, which are disproportionally long. she's smilin quite a bit and chucklin every once in a while. she makes all sorts of wonderful sounds that make us laugh. she's slowly squirmin her way into a routine...or at least the shadows of one....and we just keep rollin out the red carpet.

we're venturin out more and more. church is goin better...though several folks seem to want her to cry and fuss during the service..."it's like music to our ears." they're wonderful to her :). we've taken a couple walks out behind the house, max in tow. riley seems to like bein outside, which i'm so glad about!

i'm still tryin to take advantage of her nap times....either sleepin while she sleeps, which is what all the grandmothers advise...or gettin a few things done, which i can't help but do more often than not. but still...even after 8+ weeks, almost every time she falls asleep, i find myself just wantin to sit and watch her. the way her little squishy face contorts....the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest...the absolute limpness of her warm, soft little body. she's just the sweetest, most beautiful Grace in all the world. why would i want to sleep or wash dishes when i can sit for hours and soak in such Goodness?

my grandma told me from day one - make it thru the first 6-8 wks, and it'll get better....yall will get used to her, and she'll settle in. sure enough, the last couple weeks have brought a bit more rest and a bit less screamin, and we're grateful for both.

look at that! i sat down, started the blog, and now i think i'm finished...all w/o havin to get up. wowza....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

it's all chocolates and hearts


here we are. valentine's day, no less. josh gave us both gifts, of course. but really, sleep was the better gift - josh volunteered to take the nite shift last nite. and it was a doozie! here's a picture of josh and his riley bear.

no, it's not all chocolates and hearts...but that doesn't make it any less good and wonderful.

life's rockin right along. josh is pretty available during the week and works quite a bit on the weekends. i'm home 99.9% of the time...w/the exception of an occasional trip to the grocery store or in for a town coke. tryin to keep up w/my online class. probably should have taken the semester off, but hind sight's always 20/20. my academic goals have shifted a bit as riley has prioritized herself :)

we went home a little over a week ago and spent a long weekend w/friends and family. had a great time....a fabulous shower....and really good sleep, actually. people's generosity toward us and riley is tremendous, and we're incredibly grateful.

the in-laws came in at the end of last week and helped convert the overrun pile that was our house back into our home. just a quick synopsis of life the last few weeks: christmas and christmas gifts, baby and baby stuff, seymour shower and gifts, amarillo shower and gifts, intermittent visitors bearing more gifts, and the normal we-have-a-new-baby-and-our-house-is-a-disaster mayhem. needless to say, our furniture was serving more to seat gifts and laundry than actual people. so kay washed and folded mounds of laundry, put away gifts, and neatly stacked diapers. i showed riley the couch, as it could not have been perceived as a couch beforehand. i also remembered and appreciated what our bed looks like made. so yea! we're back to the maintenance-zone of housekeeping, which is quite relieving.

during one of the the many 4am feedings, i was thinkin about things i've learned the past 7 wks. here's a list...though not complete, which i'm entirely blaming on the time of day (or nite) i had the idea.

1. i don't know near as much as i thought i did
2. the singing, rockin, swayin may not put riley to sleep, but it sure sends me to slumberland in a hurry
3. i can completely adore someone who has absolutely no regard for any of my preferences
4. as long as the clothes get clean, the foldin and puttin away aren't that bigga deal
5. i'm not any more timely at writin thank you cards as i was when we got married. if you're watitin on an etiquette-appropriate card, sorry.
6. what "precious" really means.
7. i can no longer start and finish a blog in a single day, as evidenced by the very words you're now readin.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

whine whine...man burp


we can hardly believe we've had our precious little girl for a month. a whole month! time has become a funny thing, actually. it's become increasingly relative....kinda like sleep. sometimes hours pass as slowly as molasses climbin uphill...extra slowly when she's screamin...sweetly so when she's sleepin w/her face snuggled against my neck. i keep thinkin it's later in the week than it is, and i smile every time i realize it's only wednesday :).

time's also a funny thing when tryin to tell someone how old riley is. technically, she was 4 wks old last saturday...but by the calendar date, she wasn't a month old until yesterday. what kind of confusion is that? weird.

i feel like i have a hundred things i could write about.... the silly messes around the house that seem to be growin in number. or riley's schedule...which is really a nonschedule at this point. the sweet or funny or amusing things she does...and how, at any given moment, i'm pretty sure there's no one else in all of history who has felt the way i feel when i hold her in my arms. i could write about the unforeseen but appreciated contact we're maintaining w/her birthmother. oh - or how there's yet more paperwork to be completed, questions to be answered such as "how has your adopted child changed your daily routine?" and my answer was "riley IS our routine."

but probably, this is how any new mama feels, right? a hundred things to say and yet...nothin to say at all...b/c there's just this sweet, quiet, contented peace to be at home w/a new baby.

some dear folks here in seymour threw us a baby a shower this last weekend. it was wonderful! my family came in, as well, and riley got to meet her aunt marsha, uncle curtis, cousin danielle, and great-gammy...and got to see her neecer and papa again. needless to say, there was a near-constant discussion as to who's turn it was to hold baby riley :)

alright. riley's asleep, so i better make wise use of this time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

oh the contrast

the social worker came and went today, and life continues. as he climbed into his car and drove away, i looked at josh and said, "well that was relatively painless." yep. painless.

in case you've forgotten or have been followin our story only for a few weeks, i think this is the link remindin all of us of the anxiety leadin up to our initial homestudy. today's experience was not nearly as anxiety-inducin. maybe that's b/c we have our long-sought-after baby in our arms, so the "this one man can alter the course of our entire parenthoodin plans" fear has left. or maybe it's b/c we're sleep deprived and mostly concerned about our precious little girl....rather than the amt of dust on the shelves or the folded laundry on the bed. regardless, we were a lot more relaxed today.

he was here for about an hour, hour and a half or so. he asked questions about the hospital experience, the birth parents, any expectations/agreements of contact w/them since comin home, and our adjustment as parents. he then talked to each of us individually...presumably askin us each the same questions: "what are your strengths as a parent?" "do you have any concerns?" "how has the baby affected your marriage?" then he had to lay his eyes on the place(s) riley generally sleeps. and that was it.

though we were more relaxed, that's not to say we weren't rushin around an hr before the social worker's arrival. oh no. josh was hurryin to install the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and safely store his firearms. i was clamorin to (gasp) un-do all of my organizational work and quickly combined piles of bills and congratulation cards and our two folders' worth of adoption/riley-related documents into one giant, messy pile that is currently settin rather precariously atop our printer. and about 45min before he arrived, i was finally takin a shower.

it's almost comical to consider the contrast b/w today's visit and the one in june. june - i cleaned and sorted for days. i labored in order that our home might look un-lived-in. to both the house and myself, i dusted, scrubbed, folded, stacked, organized, rearranged, polished. today? well....in one corner of the livin room are a couple christmas presents still in their wrappin paper, b/c we haven't had christmas w/my side of the family yet. also in that corner are josh's camera, camera bag, and tripod w/attached flash. a car seat, swing, and boppy-thing hide another wall. my big cushy chair has tagged baby clothes and blankets on the arms. our few lunch dishes were dirty and sittin in the sink. the dinin room chairs were dusted only by the back sides of our pants as the three of us sat to talk this afternoon. and the entire guest bed is covered in clothes....they're clean and finally folded....but put away they are not.

and as i'm sure everyone will be shocked to know - the social worker didn't even seem to notice. of course.

finally....and perhaps the best of all....as the social worker was leavin, he opened the screen door and said, "oh, you have wasps" as 3-4 of them buzzed near his face. perfect. come to find out, they're bees. not wasps. great.

if our camera was workin, i'd take a picture of our sweet girl this very moment - sound asleep in her fabulous homemade bassinet, flat on her back, tucked into the cutest little outfit that she's now too big for (it's so cute, though, i just had to get one more day's worth of wear!), both arms straight down her side, little legs bowed out (also probably b/c the outfit's too small)....just perfect :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

a few logistics

in the midst of all the wonder and sweetness, sleepless nites and hours cryin, there are a few logistics of adoption that continue well past the day we left the hospital w/riley.

the state requires at least 2 post-placement home visits by the social worker...one w/in 30 days and one w/in 60 days of placement (placement = the day the baby is in our home). in some places, a third visit has to be completed w/in 90 days of placement. however, the agency we're using has a good reportoire w/the court in lubbock, so the judge there requires (what i understand to be the minimum of) only 2 visits. so the social worker who did our initial home study back in july will be here once this month and once next month. his job is to ensure the safety and well-being of the baby...to make sure that we, as the adoptive parents, as adjustin well and takin good care of the baby....that our house is still safe, etc.

after his 2 visits, then the final court date is set....for us, it'll be sometime in march. yes - what you're thinkin is probably pretty close to right. the adoption is not yet final. the verbage is a little confusing....but the bottom line is that the adoption and agency and the mccrarys are both legally responsible for riley right now. when we go to court in march, the adoption will be finalized. riley is not legally a mccrary yet - she retains her birthmother's last name until finalization. upon finalization, her name will be legally changed, a new birth certificate will be issued, and riley layne will be officially, legally, finally ours.

some of you may have heard that birthmothers have a certain period of time - after signin her papers - to change her mind. this is an exaggeration of a technicality. once the birthparents have signed their relinquishment of rights documents, they cannot wake up one day, arbitrarily change their minds, and show up and take our baby. during this 3-6 month period i've been describing above, they can fight it....but they would have to prove they were bribed or coerced or threatened, etc, in order to have a case. since we have not engaged in any of those behaviors, we aren't concerned at all. however, i think it's safe to say there will be a certain degree of relief and gratitude come march.

so.....all of that to lay the groundwork for future detail-type postings. our first post-placement home visit is tomorrow. the social worker - the same city guy from dallas - will be here shortly after lunch tomorrow. let it suffice to say that this house will not be nearly as clean as it was when he visited us a few months ago :)

alright. riley's asleep and josh is at work....so i'm gonna grab a quick sandwich before i lose my chance!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

about 2 1/2 wks in


so many things we can't understand or appreciate until we live them. bein a first-time parent has erupted wave upon wave of newness... among the waves - new understanding and new appreciation.

for silly things.... like i never got why those first few numbers of a baby's life were so important. you know - date, time, wt, length. but now that a little person, whose initial existence outside the womb was somewhat defined by such numbers, is in our home, a few numeric digits are forever imprinted w/in me: 12/25/2010, 1:37pm, 8lb, 11oz, 20in - she's born. and a few more: 12/27/2010, 2:10pm, 8lb, 3oz, 20in - she's ours. and that's just the beginnin of a lifetime of countin....

or simple things....things we, as adults, usually ignore or pretend don't exist in adulthood...like fartin, burpin, poopin, or moltin. for some reason, when an 8lb little person's digestive tract functions properly, we educated and respectable adults grin from ear to ear. when adults have odd skin conditions that can't be hidden from the general public, no one knows quite what to say or not say....but when a newborn baby literally grows out of her pre-delivery skin, we don't bat an eye. adults are weird.

it's amazin how quickly so much of life can change....maybe all of life when the vehicle of change is in the form of a baby girl. i talked to grandma earlier. she asked what all was goin on. my response? well, i'm either feedin, burpin, changin, or holdin riley. if i'm not doin any of those things, i'm washin and boilin her bottles, mixin formula, or washin clothes. since comin home about 2 1/2 wks ago, i've cleaned the toilet once, swept the kitchen floor, and left the house 2, maybe 3 times. i've realized i don't have time to check and respond to email, check and post to facebook, read, write, and update the blog as i please. not to mention clean house, cook, pay bills, or call friends.

but if you have kids, you already know all of this :)

and you do ridiculous things when you become a parent. at least i have. i watched oprah yesterday. she interviewed ricky martin. i watched an 8 year old little boy breakdance on ellen's talk show. i've read multiple brochures about bathing. i'm now watchin the nightly news (grandma and mama will be proud! maybe this one isn't so ridiculous). i make up songs - sometimes to recognizable tunes, sometimes not.

if i've given the impression that i'm complainin, please forgive me. about 20 minutes ago, i was rockin riley....w/her little sweet face - my most favorite face - turned toward me, sound asleep. w/o thinkin about, i found myself whisperin "you're so beautiful.... for the rest of my life" and soft tears of unspeakable gratitude fell...

Sunday, January 2, 2011