Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Very Beginning

I'm sleeping.
I'm Far Away in a dream where I'm trying to get my kids into bed but these aren't their beds and they're not even my kids, really.
It's a frustrating dream but I stomp through it, annoyed but sleeping soundly.

A whisper catches my ear and drags me from my dreamy mission of bed-arranging:
"Where are the Embassy forms?"

Wait - what?
Am I still dreaming?
Do I need Embassy forms in my dream?
What now?
I stumble out of the dream and grunt something like: 
~~~~"Wha?"~~~~

"Where are the Embassy forms?"

It's 3:55AM. 
Andrew is awake.
His brain is already firing
and he wants to know where I have packed the Embassy forms in our luggage.
I'm dreaming about random bedroom furniture placement
and he's beside me, 
not sleeping,  
thinking through a packing list.
The soft American bed I am laying in is already devolving from Magical Land of Dreams into
wrinkled bed linens.
The box fan I hear humming is suddenly too loud and I can barely think straight.

"Good morning to you, too", I mutter.
"They are in your carry-on in the folder with the dossier."

"Let's go get our daughter", he grins in the semi-darkness.


A switch flips in my heart.
Lightbulbs snap on in all corners of my head
and my heart races.
Oh YEAH.
Today.
NOW.
Rissa.


Today. Now. NOW.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

ONE DAY

I have this "Les Miserables" song running through my head today.
Fellow former chorus nerds? 
You will feel me here.

"One day more.
Another day, another destiny.
Tomorrow we'll discover 
What our God in Heaven has in store! 
One more dawn 
One more day 
One day more!"


(and for the record: I always prefered Eponine to Cosette.)

******
This. Time. Tomorrow. we are on a 747 winging our way to our Rissa.
Our Amaris.
Our Promise from God.
Milk chocolate skin and ebony almond eyes.
A four-month-old, toothless grin
and chubby arms.
Springy, sparse curls and soft, pale palms.
My flesh and blood in an African body.
My beloved child.

Tonight we both swallow aspirin and anti-malarial pills
whispering to our veins and blood cells, 
to our immune systems and livers 
 "prepare for Africa".

And we comfort the boys with verses about anxieties tossed at Jesus' feet,
about bravery and hope,
about promises and love
about sacrifice and protection.

The infamous Rollercoaster of Adoption?
Oh, no - we are way past that.
Now it's more like the rocking gondola of a wild ferris wheel.
My emotions turbulant like a crazed washing machine,
plummeting to despair over leaving the boys and 
skyrocketing to joy over reaching our 
Sweet Rissa.


One Day More
and we will discover what our God in Heaven has in store
indeed.








Friday, April 15, 2011

Two Days

It's starting to feel so real.
Regular life as we know it has officially ended -
the alternative schedule has begun.
The boys' doting grandparents arrived last night
so today has included:






and one over-stimulated blessed set of boys
 and one half-focused Mama.

My mind is racing today.

And I miss Andrew.
Days like today
 when normalcy is slipping through my fingers like sand I need him to stabilize me,
to do his half-smirk and wink.
To tell me: "Hey. It's okay. Be Radical. This just means we are on the right path. Jesus has us. We are going to keep walking. Calm down. Journal it."

(Although the first time he told me to "Journal it" as a way to calm my nerves?
Yeah.
Let's just say
I was not as grateful for that insightful encouragement.)

Tomorrow this pup:


will move to my dear friend's home for a few weeks.

And the last of our bags will have to be all packed and ready to go by 8:30AM Sunday morning.


It's HAPPENING.

Here's where I am:
Nervous.
Thinking about all that has to happen.
Before we leave.
After we've left.
Once we're gone.
While we're gone.
In order to come home.
Once we're home.

I peek behind the curtain of details and I am overwhelmed with need.

I feel weak.

I need Him.

I call out and I need Him.


So, here's where I stay:

" The LORD Almighty has sworn, Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
   and as I have purposed, so it will happen." ~Isaiah 14:24


And I look forward to tomorrow because I suspect,
 since I have met myself  here before,
that
all of this will feel different
and I will be able to "laugh at the future". (Proverbs 31:25).

That's where I want to go.

I'll let you know.




Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three Days

Great Fun Day here!
Skype'd with a dear pal first thing this AM
who we are meeting once we arrive in Africa.
She is already there so Skyp'ing with her is like
seeing myself in a week.
So that was mucho fun for me!
Maybe not so much fun for her, however since I have to virtually scream for her to hear me for some odd, computer-gadgety-related reason.
(example:) Me: "She is so cute!", screamed emphatically regarding either of her 2
newly-adopted daughters.
Her: "What's that? Cute? Oh, yeah! Thanks!"

Awkward.
But still all kinds of fun.

And school?
Finished in April, you ask?
Yep.
The 2nd grade homeschool experiment has officially ended.
Now, I won't say we completed every jot and tittle of Luke's book work
however,
he finished not one but TWO complete Math curriculums this school year.
He has ready somewhere in the neighrborhood of 20 chapter books.
The most recent novel, Stink: Solar System Superhero
was finished in 3 days flat.
And he most loved History, since we both read Virgil Hillyer's
A Child's History of the World
aloud which taught us both so very much
and also
The Usborne Book of World History
which I found him reviewing without being told to the other day, happily perusing the pages on the living room couch:
Every Homeschool Mama's Dream.

{Ask the kid to name an adjective though?
Good luck.
He'lll most likely guess:
"House! Tree! Dog! I don't know! Four??!"}
(eye roll)

So homeschooling, outside of review for the next few months so we don't get too rusty
 (both of us)
is over for 2010/2011 school year.
He gets reviewed by a state-approved educator (not moi),
that gets sent to the School Board for filing,
DONE and DONE.

Next year: Classical Conversations!
And that's an adventure for another time.

For today there was celebrating to be done!
So, new ball caps for everyone:

...and then a trip to Build-A-Bear Workshop so that I could
record a message in a bear for them to snuggle while Andrew and I are away.


 checking how snuggly the bear is
 being goofy to amuse my kid
...they do this thing where you rub the little red heart that gets sewn into the bear all over
like, your arms so it's like hugging them and your ears so it's like hearing them, etc...
...and then you finally kiss and hug the heart before it gets buried inside your bear of choice.
...it cracked Luke up. So, it worked.
 Ethan did his own thing. Typical and amusing as always.
 Graham and Luke got the whole Build-A-Bear show.
 And it was a sunshiney day.
 So, this is what my bedroom looks like.
And before you are too impressed with me:
this is what my laundry room looks like.
Oh, yeah.

This is my last Thursday without Rissa.

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four Days

Andrew's day off.
A day off from almost everything for us, except for play time.
I had breakfast with a dear friend.
Alone.
In a leisurely way.
We did school math.
And we packed Andrew's suitcase carry-on.
(All actual suitcase space is reserved for cargiver/ministry/gift/baby items.)
Other than that: we are "off" today, as a family.
It's not a day to discuss much
or
demand much
or
work much
or
answer the phone
or
concentrate too hard.

It's a day to swim, sleep, drink coffee with my sister, watch an afternoon movie, play a game,
appreciate that this is so, so easy.
Our lives are not about the pursuit of ease
but we can sure value the luxury of comfort when it shows up.

Today is a soft, worn quilt of contentment.
Today is a lazy pelican circling lapping waves.

Today is a cooing owl on a summer's night.

Today is easy.

"I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness--secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." ~Isaiah 45:3

Today the hidden treasure is my boys.

It's the last day of only my boys and me.

I remember feeling this way before I had Ethan, as I lay in the hospital on bedrest:
"What was our last normal day, just me and the big boys?"
I was frantic to remember the precious interactions we had.
I remember this painlessly now,
knowing life is a million times sweeter with Ethan in our world
and yet, it happens again:
mentally recording our last times without
My New Baby Who Will Change Things for a While.

Treasure. Riches.

Mary Beth Chapman talks about this a little in Choosing to SEE,
and it helps to know that all Mama's go through this,
the tiny relinquishing of the familiar to take hold of the new.

It's not painful.
But it is noteworthy.


The view from where I sit.



He talked them into napping with him. Sort of.


Rissa~
 don't despise Mama for sharing these bits, darling baby - I will mentally grab images of our togetherness when we bring your baby sister home, too One Day. I will wrap you up tightly in my lap as Baby of the House for the last time and it will be bittersweet then, too. Daddy and I are still gazing with silly smiles at your picture today, ecstatic and juliant and wishing the next 4 days away. In case you wondered. You belong here. We can't wait.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Five Days

Packing by the Numbers:

5: days until we leave

21-31: days we anticipate being gone

4: large suitcases

2: rolling carry-on suitcases

1: diaper bag

1: back pack

1: Pak N Play

300: total weight, in pounds

1: laptop with Skype account for talking to home

2: very good pair of headphones

1: box each of aspirin, Citrucel, Flagyl, Ambien, Malarone, Phenegran, Tylenol, Zofran, etc, etc, etc

8997: miles between departing and arriving airports

27: hours of traveling

1: pair of pants for me, since I will be wearing mostly skirts

2: pair of shorts for him, since he will mostly be wearing khaki's

1: copy of our dossier on us

4: Lindt truffles gift bags for flight crews (we are NOT above sucking up)

6: small small bottles of hand sanitizer

1: pop-up mesh laundry hamper (don't underestimate my OCD tendencies)

1: box of Tide laundry powder

150: Playtex disposable baby bottle liners

120: diapers

1: pair of adorable white patent leather shoes for Rissa for court

25: blank Thank you cards

4: bottles of 100% DEET mosquito repellant

36: packages of "Starbucks Via" coffee

1: bottle of powdered "Sweet Italian Cream" coffee creamer

2: babywearing slings

8: total weight, in pounds of Dum-Dum lollipops for children

1: new, incredibly soft teddy-bear "lovey" for Rissa, courtesy of my baby shower and our church's children's ministry director

1: Build-A-Bear cub, named "Little Bear" with recorded messages of love from our sons we are taking with us, courtesy of my sister

12: family and friends at the airport just to see us off!

1: new biography of Tina Fey I am having trouble keeping my hands off of until we leave

120: hours till we board

168: hours till we meet our beautiful daughter!!!





Monday, April 11, 2011

Six Days

Pick up Andrew's new suit for court.
Get Embassy forms notarized.
Buy aspirin to take on long flights.
Call bank.
Call cell phone company.
Call and confirm flights.
Call airport, beg for  boys' clearance to come to the gate when we return.
Call a hundred other places.
Finish last week of Luke's 2nd grade homeschool curriculum.
See Andrew on Wednesday.
Only.
Take the dog for a haircut, buy another bag of food for him to give to my dear buddy who is adopting him for the next month. (What? - He eats a lot.)
Find un-wrinkled, un-stained, crisp $50 bills for visas once we arrive.
Buy an international outlet adapter.
Make list of bills for Mom to use as she pays them for me, when they arrive in my mail.
Show her how to do that.
Buy Ethan's 4th birthday gifts.
For his 4th birthday.
Which we will be missing.
Buy Easter baskets.
Leave surprises for the boys.
Clean this house up, top to bottom.
Get list of helpful phone numbers complied for Mother-in-law, who will be me for 2 weeks.
Pack for me.
Pack for Rissa.
Pack for Andrew.
Pack for caregivers.
Pack for ministries we are visiting in country.
Pack carry-on's.
Pack Pak-N-Play.
Get a good book for the plane.
Make list of email contacts to send mass emails while we are traveling.
Play with the boys.
Convince them I will come home again soon.
Enjoy them.
Breathe.
Soak.
Appreciate.
Pray.
Be thankful.
Calm restless heart.
Stare at Rissa's picture.
Smile.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

She will not know us

One week.
One more.
One week from right now Andrew and I will at the end of the 1st leg of our travels to our Rissa.
I cannot almost believe it.
We learned about this baby - our baby - only 2 months ago. 
62 days ago.
It's too ridiculous but it's happening.
It's a miracle.

So, next Sunday we will be "leaving on a jet plane" (thank you, Karen Carpenter)
for about 3 or 4 weeks, heading over the Atlantic for 24 hours of flying, 
set to arrive in our daughter's home nation late at night, long after her hazelnut eyes have slid closed and her even breathing escorts her baby's mind to dreamland.
She will not know we are there.
She will peacefully awaken the next day, expecting her comforting routine.
Instead, 2 pale, excitable, tearful faces will greet her and scoop her up and plant kisses on her surprised and maybe amused face.

She will not know why we are removing her from the people who have cared lovingly for her.
She will not know we are her people, now.
She will not know we have flown around the world and heartbreakingly left her big brothers,
 tearful themselves, 
back in a whole country full of pale people.
She will not know we love her.
She will not know she is safe.
She hasn't been waiting for us.
She hasn't been praying for us nightly.
She hasn't been counting down.
She will not know us.

And it breaks my heart.

We fly away from our sons, to find our daughter on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday: the day of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Palm Sunday: the beginning of the end for Christ; the last loud celebration before agony.
Palm Sunday: gateway to the greatest challenge, the greatest redemption.

I can't quite find the connecting piece, here, between this and what we are embarking on but
 it strikes me that 
it's no coincidence. 
We are going to need His redemption, to meet the challenges that Rissa's adoption brings -
 the heartbreak and loss that are impossible to side-step.
She will be losing a great deal to become our daughter, make no mistake.

And we need Easter to come.

Friday, April 1, 2011

17 Days and Counting...


Ethan, Former Head of Cupcake Marketing
Kept screaming: "Get your fwee cupcakes!" Was demoted.
~~~~~~~~~~

This Wednesday was our family's First Annual Participation in
to benefit SixtyFeet.org
and send $$$ to Uganda's remand centers for imprisoned children.

It was delicious.
And yes, completely exhausting!
But I had some wonderful, amazing, generous, godly girlfriends who volunteered to help!

We had a super-fun time and raised $236.42 to pitch in and help.
More than that though, we were able to pray with our collective 12 (soon-to-become-15!) offspring
who were helpfully marketing with poster-board signs
and try to help them understand WHAT we were doing and WHY.
It's amazing to watch the confusion on a 2nd grader's face when you explain that the kids we are helping send $$$ to have NO parents, NO homes, NO safety.
It's why I want our boys to come to Uganda - not on this upcoming trip but very soon.

Andrew and I will be blessed to visit the Remand Center in Uganda we are raising $$$ for when we travel this month, we hope.
We will see the faces.
We will touch the skin.
We will hug the hungry bodies.
We will be able to treat their wounds and listen to their quiet lungs and broken hearts in thin chests.

I do not expect to return to bright, vaction Beachtown the same person.

We leave in 17 days.