Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I just had an e-mail conversation with a friend I met in Traverse City, who, with her husband of course, has adopted two children from South Korea using the same agency and same case worker as we are.

It's so fascinating to hear what she has to say, on one hand, and on the other completely unnerving. Although, if anyone had detailed for me just what sleepless nights were like as a new parent, I'm sure I would have been on the edge of my seat (instead of pushed back entirely to fit the girth of my belly) then, too.

The thing that gets me the most is the grief. Obviously, the grief. She told me about how wonderful her son's foster mother was, and how, when my friend took him from her for the last time after three visits, the boy screamed and cried for the foster mother, and the foster mother tried to comfort him because he was her child, even if she knew she would have to give him up, eventually. And the boy slept after he cried, and didn't know who to bond with at home, and was good tempered but at night he screamed for hours in grief, this baby who couldn't tell anyone how he felt and who did not want the arms of his adoptive parents to comfort him.

How devastating; what a confused little heart.

And of course he is happy and adjusted now, just six months later. But that anguish in a baby is practically too much. If I didn't know that, without us, the child would live in an orphanage, I couldn't do it. I think of my biological children and I practically die inside when I envision the loss they would feel.

I know it will be fine, that one day we will look back and realize we made it. But it makes me mad again, mad like I was when I started thinking about adoption seriously, mad that life is Not Fair for children and that there are so many who suffer much greater losses every second of every day.

I get mad, too, at the books we're required to read, which detail exactly what the birth mother is probably doing while pregnant and the effects these activities will have on the child, or what could happen, or how they might not adjust well, and how they might have a breaking heart every day and take it out in various horrible ways.

Trevor and I keep telling ourselves that even if we had a biological child anything could happen, and it's frustrating when people who are close to us quietly mention that we should maybe just stick with the two we've got. Do they not think we've considered this? Do they think this is simply a thrill ride for us, all part of being young and fun and why not?

The wait is what's difficult. I don't know, though, if it would have been easier on the day we called the agency to begin the process to have been sent that very day to Korea, to have been barraged with information on the plane ride, to have been thrown into every emotion right then -- or to have a full year-and-a-half to think about it.

There is a group of mothers that meets in Traverse City. Mothers of adopted children, I think they're all from the same agency. I'm going to start going with the girls, even though we don't have our littlest one yet, to let the girls play around Asian kids and also to see how they do it. To witness that they're still standing, and that the children are OK. That this is the good path, to have leaders on it, and to simply exist together, the before and after stories.

Of Late

Sporting a torso of Easter stickers that came out of the package from Aunt Steph and Uncle Jason and onto the belly. Like, obviously.

The Polly Pocket also included in the Easter package, who is comfortably nested in Berit's bed for the night because "she's new here and she might get lonely."

"What couch? THIS couch? Oh, we're not supposed to stand on THIS couch? Can I jump on it? No jumping? On THIS couch? Can I jump on my knees? HERE? HERE? Can I slam onto my bottom? How about if I do it and laugh? How about with my hands in the air?"

"YAY for Sharkies!"

Monkey See, Monkey Do

She knows she's hilarious.

On our way to Maggie's birthday party.

Puzzling together. They actually help each other, then high-five at the end.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Sun

On Friday night I helped Berit's preschool set up at a Mom to Mom Sale, and while I was there I noticed a set of Barbies, horses, a pegasus, a baby polar bear and a wand of light. If you have girls aged 4-8, you might be rolling your eyes right now saying under your breath, "The Magic of the Pegasus," geeeeeesh. And you're right. Plus a bonus horse-drawn carriage and four Barbie fairies. So, of course, I bought it.

I set it up in the living room and on Saturday morning I heard Berit leave her room and go downstairs by herself. Then, "OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!"

So the girls played with it for four hours and then we set off for the pool. Marta, a slippery fish who wants nothing to do with lifesaving efforts, took off in her too-big swimsuit with the floaty panels in the chest and back parts. She drank half the pool but she did it, all by herself. Berit clung to the edge and claimed she, too, was swimming solo in her floaty suit. We assured her that yes, she was, and were secretly thrilled that we have swimming lessons starting on Tuesday because 1) Marta needs to learn how to swim on her own NOW and 2) Someone needs to do something about Berit and her nervousness in the water, and it's clearly not working when we try.

At church this morning, Palm Sunday, the girls were relatively good as gold -- the only real problem being Marta's efforts to swim in the pew. We went out for pancakes afterwards and again marveled at how lovely their ages are right now -- well-behaved but still so silly and delighted.

As it was FIFTY DEGREES we put them in the stroller and walked the mile or so to the Walloon park, where they played in the wind off the lake until they were worn out and Trevor and I could get a serious calf workout on the hills leading home. We had French dip sandwiches and sweet potato fries that had been cooking all day and made our house smell amazing, and warm, homemade custard for dessert.

I then spent the next 10 minutes hugging them and telling them how cool they are, because seriously? Does it get any better than this?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Eggs, Basil and Eternity

I love cooking with Berit. When I was little my mom worked full time and on weekends, too, and we didn't have a lot of time for that sort of thing. When I got pregnant I knew that was one thing I wanted to be sure to make time for -- bonding in the kitchen. Because let me tell you, I don't like to cook and I am not good at it (yes, I realize the two probably go hand-in-hand). I wanted the girls to have a love for cooking that goes beyond putting a meal on the table or even the hunt for the most nutritious ingredients (something I do enjoy).

Marta is just starting to have the patience to stand at a chair while we're baking, mostly because she knows there's a sugary beater in it for her at the end. Berit, though, has always been into it. So today when she had the option of going outside with Trevor and Marta or staying in to make a frittata with me, I was glad she stayed in.

I was chopping onions and she was eating watermelon. She told me that onions smelled like burning toast, and that watermelon and red peppers looked alike but didn't taste alike.

And then she said, "Mom, when our story is over will we all be fairies?"

I said, "What story?"

And she said, "You know. This one. Ours." And she swept her arms around, apparently encompassing our lives.

"No," I said, "when we die we'll go to heaven."

She immediately said "No, I don't want to die."

And so we got into the conversation about life and death, and heaven and God and Mary and Jesus and all the people we love, and a long long long life.

"Mom, after I get married will I die?"

So we talked about marriage and children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. And doing everything you've ever wanted to do in a life before you die.

She wondered if Marta would die, and with my heart in my throat I told her that yes, we all would someday, and the entire time I prayed fervently in my head, "PleaseGoddon'tletthemdie."

She went back to eating her watermelon, so I dropped it and kept chopping. Then Marta came in and ran up to Berit, and Berit said, "Marta, someday you're going to die but it will be OK because you'll go to heaven and God and Mary and Jesus, and me and Mommy and Daddy and everyone will be there!"

And Marta thought it was the funniest thing she'd ever heard, and they both ran up to the Princess Tower to play.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sick House

I could write that I've not been blogging much lately because of our house plans moving forward. I could. But I've had little to do with that, besides the occasional signing of papers. Hoping to close next week, and then the real fun begins!

I could write that I've been busy doing our taxes. I HAVE been busy compiling our stuff, it being in three different locations while our office is in boxes in the garage. But that's over now.

I could write that I've been spending too much time looking at storage solutions for the playroom and closets. Or trying to envision just what a proper kitchen would look like, since we get to design ours from scratch. I've been doing this a lot, actually.

I should write that I've been nursing the family to health. Trevor has early pneumonia, and both girls are getting over a very, very terrible cold that has left them both with horrendous double ear infections. Aside from Marta's screaming at 4 a.m. and not stopping until we reached the doctor's at 10:30 a.m. and felt it was time to put on a Cute and Smart Show, I could actually SMELL her ears. Uh-huh. At the office this morning, with Berit, the doc said: "If I were going to rate her double ear infection on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst I've ever seen, I'd put it at a 9." He also said: "If you told me she'd spent the past two nights screaming all night, and if I walked in here and she were curled up on that chair sobbing, I would not have been surprised at what I just saw in her ears. I don't know how she's as happy as she is right now, with what's going on in there."

But the truth is, while yes I've been helping them along, I haven't had to do a whole lot of care-taking. More just coming up with stuff to do while B's been out of school. They've been pretty good sports.

I don't quite know what I've been doing. No car boys have exploded in days. I haven't actually been test driving the minivans that I've been e-mailing about with various car dealerships from here to Detroit, though I have spent a few hours worrying and trying to mentally change the whole Toyota recall mess, since we'd really like to buy a Sienna but what about those recalls? What about that whole "over the next year we'll be hiring people who can actually perform their quality control jobs."???????

I suppose no news is good news, right? Sunshine, sidewalk chalk, scooters. Long walks. Forced fresh air for the whole family, even in the cold (whoops -- I didn't realize they were as sick as they are). Make-believe and books. Ghiradelli chocolate chips mixed in Maranatha peanut butter. Early bedtimes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Our Life In Photos (Well, Two Weeks)

SURPRISE! Scooters! We bought them for Easter but couldn't leave them packaged during these sunny days.

St. Patrick's Day

At Grandma and Pop's house, getting excited for the Gemini show!

With Grandma, on our way out the door!

The next member of the group?

Of course. Called onstage by the kind brothers.

Uncle David used to go to Gemini concerts for his own amusement. Now he grins at them, but taps his toes nonetheless. :)

We listen to them every morning. They're still as wonderful as they were 16 years ago.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Status: BUZZ

We've had a really, really busy week. Who hasn't? In all of this sunshine, I can't believe we found the inside of our house at all.

In addition to the obvious perfection of our everyday life (ahem), we had an exciting trip to Greenville planned, where we saw Gemini, rode the carousel at the mall in GR and visited Trevor's grandparents. During the week, we received our purchase agreement for the new house (we've been waiting at least a month) and a completed home study for the adoption.

I was so heavily in fantasy land after those two major transitions that my brain was on par with, oh, maybe an insect's. Fly here, eat this, care for young, buzz, fly, etc. I made a thoughtless goof with work (forgivable but so completely brainless) and spent the majority of book club spouting at the mouth about various things that may or may not have been insulting to the Marines (of which I am a sincere supporter, duh), may or may not have made my husband out to be a 16-year-old whose only goal in life is to land that sweet trick in snowboarding (which is not necessarily true), and may or may not have had any relevance to life in general, but certainly applied to my adoption of both home and child.

BUT! Week is over. We move on, and into more sunshine and the promise of an early, warm spring. There are no longer shanties on the water-that-used-to-be-ice in front of the house (the last truck has blessedly pulled away as well) and therefore my chances of having a stress-induced heart attack from simply looking out the window have diminished. My focus is coming back through the forced dissection of our finances for both mortgage and taxes, and I've been charged with the task of finding a suitable weekend getaway spot for my sister, brother-in-law, Trev and me.

This next week will also see our farewell to beloved friends who're moving cross country, a serious look at preschools for Berit (and, eventually, Marta) and hopefully a clearer nose and lungs for our littlest girl, who had a bit of a rough weekend full of fevers and phlegm. This weekend will be the first ever meeting of a special kind of book club, one comprised of high school friends who I've reconnected with over a certain social networking site. Break out the Boone's Farm!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010


Tonight while we were playing before bedtime, Marta picked up a naked Barbie and pointed to her chest. "She has nurse," she said.

Marta weaned from nursing at about 19 months old -- that's eight months ago. We haven't brought it up since, except to mention "nurse" twice soon after she gave it up.

So I said, "WHAT?"

"She has nurse. Here." She pointed.

"She has breasts," I said.

"I eat Mama's breasts."

"Um. You drank milk out of Mama's breasts. The milk is gone now."

She was unfazed. She went on playing like nothing happened. I, on the other hand, got a little bit teary, to tell the truth.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Progression of a Funk

"Come on, Marta, let's take the movie back to the store."

"Ehhhhhhhhhh, noooooooooooooo." Slump.

"But I love it. I want to watch it."

"I'm gonna take it away. I'm gonna watch my Diego movie by my-SELF."

"You can't get it if I put it up here."

"It totally stayed. Wow."

"I don't know what to say. It's a miracle. I'm a genius. Did you see that? It's a movie, sitting on the ledge. You can't take that kind of achievement away from me."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Birthday Party

We had gathered about 15 of Berit's friends for another party at the gymnastics center in town. The kids have such a blast there, and it's great for the parents, too, because we all get to alternately hang out with each other and play really fun stuff with the kids. Berit really, really loved her birthday party this year. The kids are all at an age where they know each other well and interact rather than play side-by-side. Everyone has a little sibling now, too, and the big kids all help the littles along. At one point I noticed that very few faces had changed over the past few years of birthdays at the center, and the ones who have been added seem like they've been part of our family forever. We are lucky indeed to have such a strong extended family, and such a wonderful group of friends.

"I wish I could be a fairy forever."

Not long ago I took the girls to the mall, and Berit combed rack after rack looking for the perfect birthday outfit. This is what she chose (the shirt underneath even has a unicorn on it).

Berit's Birthday, Age 4

On her fourth birthday, Berit woke up before Marta, which is uncharacteristic especially since she had forgotten it was her birthday. Trevor and I snuck into her room singing "Happy Birthday" and she was pure smiles and bad breath. We had filled her room with 30 balloons and she was so excited when she saw them all over her floor! She came down and immediately got to work opening the gifts we had gotten her: Cinderella nightgown, princess backpack, I Spy princess book, princess activity books, princess headband, two princess puzzles and this necklace, her favorite of our gifts, with a ballet costume on it.

I went to school with her, where she made her birthday crown and wore her special birthday outfit.

We brought snack to school, which she chose about two weeks in advance: tomatoes, grapes and bumble bee-shaped peanut butter balls.

After school (and several outfit changes later) we had a small party with Trevor's parents. Berit had asked for pizza with pineapples on it for dinner. Here she is cracking open her gift from her Uncle Jason, Aunt Steph and cousins Annie and Jemma.


Here's the Cinderella nightgown from us. It practically touches the floor; very princess-like.

Trevor's parents, "Mimi" and "Gramps."

Of course she's only wearing underpants here. It wouldn't be a holiday if she wasn't. (See also: Trevor's lifetime holiday photo documentation.)
She had requested mint chocolate cupcakes with white mint frosting.

AUNT ANDREA and UNCLE NICK came on the Friday night after her birthday and Berit woke them up on Saturday morning. Truly, the happiest she ever is is when she's with them.

Grandma and Pop arrive! We barely noticed. :)

Gift from Uncle David, who was rushing a fraternity and couldn't make the big birthday party weekend.
This toy is Mermaid Barbie, otherwise known as The Only Toy She Will Care About From This Moment On.

Uncle David sent Marta a Dora toy, and it is also The Only Toy in Existence That Ever Really Mattered.