Sunday, June 24, 2012

Things to Remember

There's a lot of emotional trauma happening in our family right now, which explains my silence. I simply haven't had the energy to blog, and I've wondered if I even still will. I will explain more soon, as well as announce future plans for this blog. I can tell you that my husband, Matthew, and I are all physically healthy and safe. In the meantime, we would covet your prayers for strength, wisdom, and peace.

But in addition to all of that, a lot has been happening with Matthew, and I keep telling myself, "Write this down! You won't want to forget this!" we go. This is crazy long, so feel free to skip if you want. There are some pretty cute videos if you want to watch those, though.

Matthew is now 17 months old! He looks more like a "big boy" every day. Even today I was watching him and this thought kept running through my mind: "He's a toddler. He's.A.TODDLER!" It's hard to wrap my mind around!

We have a pretty good routine. I put a pile of books and toys in the end of his crib every night before I put him down. He wakes up in the morning and for 30-60 minutes, he just plays quietly with his toys, reads his books, and wakes up slowly. This gives me time to wake up slowly, get ready for the day, and have some quiet time of my own. I am truly blessed that he can amuse himself so well without me, though sometimes I confess, I feel guilty about that, too.

Then I get him up, we nurse, we read 2 books (the same two, every morning; he picks them out: The Hungry Caterpillar and The Quiet Cricket). Then, I put him down, and he goes to find the dog, where we cautiously and gently pet Lewis. Then he walks to his highchair and I lift him up and give him breakfast. If we have any errands to do, we do them after breakfast. If not, we play. Then we have lunch, I nurse him, he naps, and he wakes up around the time daddy gets home from work. The boys play while I make dinner, then we eat, he has a bath, we read, we pray, I nurse him, and he goes to sleep. It's very idyllic. It's exactly the kind of simple life I always envisioned parenthood would be. Waiting so long for it was hard, and I guess there's a certain kind of satisfaction that comes in realizing that it's everything I waited for and hoped for.  I know, I sound like a Hallmark card. But in the storms of life, I realize I am blessed. I have the most amazing little boy, and the most amazing husband. And that comforts me, especially now.

Life unwound the week of Mother's Day, so Mother's Day was exceptionally hard. I'm still dealing with that. I've had precisely 1 Mother's Day that wasn't marked by grief, and that was last year.  I'm struggling with my emotions on the subject. But we tried to make it a good day. My very dear friend, whose wife (also a dear friend) passed away shortly after Matthew was born, remarried on Friday of Mother's Day weekend. I coordinated his reception, and took video of the wedding. The distraction was heaven-sent, and the wedding was cause for much celebration. My parents were in town anyway, so they graciously agreed to keep Matthew.

On Mother's Day, the Phoenix Children's Museum invited moms and grandmas to attend for free. We really enjoy going to the Children's Museum. If you live in the Phoenix area and have young kids, go. It's phenomenal. I would really like to one day get a membership for it because it's such a neat place and both we and Matthew enjoy it. It's a fun, imaginative, clean place with lots to do, but it's also one of those things that every time I'm there, I'm overwhelmed with emotion. "Oh my goodness. I'm in a Children's Museum. With my own child." One of those, "this is really happening" moments. And it moves me, every time. Do you other IF mommies ever have that happen? Almost a year and a half into having Matthew in my arms and it still happens. And I hope it always will.

Anyway, we went with my parents, DH's parents, and our little family of 3 to the museum. We were only there for about 75 minutes because they were closing (little dude had napped too long) but it was great fun. I think our dads enjoyed it most of any of us. It was fun to spend the day with both sets of parents and to watch everyone interact and explore with little dude. So I do have some happy memories of this Mother's Day.

We spent the end of spring cramming in as many zoo trips as we could before it became eleventy-billion degrees outside. Matthew enjoys the zoo so much. I've never seen anyone who likes animals as much as he does. Splitting the membership with a girlfriend and her family makes it super reasonable, so we have the luxury of going just for an hour or two if we like. And the zoo provides for many more "this is my life" moments, too.

My brother and his girlfriend and my parents were all in town a few weekends ago. In the spring, we found a swingset on Craigslist for free. My brother and dad helped DH put it up. Matthew is still unsure if he likes slides, but he's decided he loves the swing! Here is the maiden voyage on his new-to-us swingset.

We had a wonderful visit with my family. We went to the zoo, we went to the splashpad, we took Matthew on his first carousel ride (he's a fan!), and we just spent a lot of time hanging out together. It was definitely wonderful. We also had some family pictures taken. Here are two of my favorites.

I call this one, "Stop kissing me!"

Now that Phoenix heat is in full force (it's projected to be 116 here on Tuesday), we spend most of our time indoors. We play inside. We took a trip to the library, which went well because Matthew loves books, but isn't an exact fit for his personality right now because quiet is NOT something he loves. We'll try again though. His favorite place to go is Petsmart. The one near our house has doggy-daycare, so there are two huge rooms that have floor-to-ceiling glass walls so he can just stand there and watch dozens of dogs, who love to come up and get nose-to-nose with him. This video is from March, so he's considerably smaller here. His reaction is the same now, only much louder. ;)

We took him to Bass Pro Shops last weekend to see the fish, and he was surprisingly unimpressed. He'll go nose-to-nose with a 300lb orangutan at the zoo, but the catfish freaked him out. What's particularly amusing about this is that I am the same way. I HATE fish. I hate them. I have a completely irrational fear of them. We went to Hawaii for our 5 year anniversary and I had a panic attack while snorkeling because I was afraid the fish would touch me. We went to a different bay to snorkel with sea-turtles and I loved it. How weird is that. Anyway, the fish thing gave me a slight giggle.  I don't know it's just me or not, but I guess I cherish these little quirky resemblances more than I think I would have otherwise if Matthew hadn't been adopted. I feel like it's just one more way God says, "See, he was always meant to be yours."

We go to the play places at the malls but they usually end up being disastrous because either there are too many unruly big kids for him to play safely, or he gets mad because he can't do the things the big kids can do.  It's hilarious. He's determined to be 5 years old RIGHT.NOW! Any time we're out and about and he sees a big kid, he's magnetically drawn to them. He follows them around like a lovesick little puppy and he wants to do everything they do! We've gone swimming the last 2 weekends with a friend who has a 4,5, and 11 year old who all like to jump off the side of the pool and in to the water. By golly if Matthew hasn't started trying to jump in too when we take him in the pool.

He loves the water. Splash pads, his baby pool, our big pool, the bath tub, you name it, he loves it. Here he is in his pool, with my mom and brother's dogs. Isn't his giggle the most wonderful sound? It's addictive.

He still loves to dance. I watched Dancing with the Stars this season because Donald Driver was on it (I am a HUGE Packer Fan!). Matthew always saw a couple of minutes before bed. I caught him doing this one night, completely unprompted. They're doing the jive on the screen. He's spinning in circles and kicking his feet, just like them.

It impressed on me how much he's becoming a little sponge. He picks up stuff all the time and we ask, "Where did he get that?" His newest one is to answer the question of "How are you?" (even if the person isn't asking HIM the question) with "good." What's amusing is that I don't usually answer that question with "Good." I'll say "fine," or "well," but not usually "good" (in the name of grammatical correctness, not because I'm not actually good). So I don't know where he picked it up, or learned that "good" is a contextually-appropriate answer. I don't usually let him watch TV (aside from those few minutes of dancing) so I don't know where else he's hearing much dialogue. He also has started saying "go" when we get to the car. I guess I say "let's go" with some frequency, but I didn't think I said it with any regularity. He's just crazy smart, I guess.

One day, he decided to climb. He's a regular little monkey. I left him in the living room so I could do the breakfast dishes, and I came back and he was sitting on the couch. Uh oh! Life is changing so fast!

He has quite a few words now. I'm trying to remember them all for my own benefit. I think I've recorded them in order.
Uh Oh
All Done
All Gone
Lewis (dog's name)
Ginger (my mom's dog)
Close (he says when he shuts a door)
Clothes (he says when I put him on the changing table-I tell him we're putting his clothes on)
Boo (as in peek-a)

What's funny is that none of the words are words I've intentionally tried to teach him more than any other word. I try to be good about labeling things and using proper words as I talk to him, but I haven't intentionally tried to teach him to say any one of these words in particular. He's just absorbed these ones and decided they're the ones he wants to say. The one word I have tried to teach him (Mommy), he still totally refuses to say. Stinker.

He has a little engineer mind. He loves to see how things work. For his birthday, I bought him these gears and this gear critter. I gave them to him this spring and he immediately figured out that the gears from the critter fit on the gear board. He ditched the critter, put the gears on the board, and has spent the months since learning how the board works, how the different gears fit together, how they can be stacked, how they need to touch each other in order to turn, etc. It is his favorite toy! My mom just got him this and he spent the weekend stacking up the pegs and sorting them. He did this all on his own.

Clapping for himself is his new thing too.

These are the things he learned this week. I taught him the snake sound, and to say "bye bye" to things or people or places to signify that we're done and help him learn transitions. Daddy taught him to fist bump. He taught himself to say "good."

Here are his other animals sounds. He's working right now on monkey and sheep.

He loves books, his gears, playing patty cake, and playing peek-a-boo, now where he's the peeker. He likes to go in his house and shut the door and then swing it open to surprise you, or he'll go behind something or put a blanket over himself to play. He quite literally has the biggest personality I've ever seen in such a little guy. He's so happy and animated and intelligent.

My husband and I celebrate 9 years of marriage this week! We've been together for 12 years! That's still hard to wrap my brain around! We got together when we were 19 so we have been together virtually all of our adult lives. I am blessed to have found my sweet love so early on in life and to have enjoyed so many years and memories together already.

3 years ago, my husband lost his job very unexpectedly. He took a leap of faith at that time and left accounting (what he studied in school for), and started his own business doing auto body paint and repair (the industry he grew up in).  He's been working in our driveway since then, which has been wonderful. But thankfully, the business outgrew that. This spring, he and his dad found a shop not far from our home to buy and in May, he moved his operation up there. It was a big leap of faith and I'm so proud of my husband for accepting the challenge, for not letting fear rule him, for being confident in God's leading for him and our family and the talent God has given him, for teaming with his dad, and for making the sacrifices he does every day to care for our family. I love that I get to stay home witnessing and enjoying all of the things I shared above and I couldn't do it if it wasn't something my husband prioritized and provided for us. So in the midst of all this other stuff (I promise, I'll elaborate soon), which started the same week we moved into the shop, we've had this other big life adjustment, too! Life has been crazy around here, to say the least!

I know this post is really gushy. That's ok with me. What God is reminding me right now is that even though I am going through the hardest time I've ever gone through in my life, He has blessed me beyond my imagination. He's given me His Son Jesus Christ, saving faith in that Son, the Holy Spirit to indwell and help me, my husband and my son and my other children, my extended family, my friends, my church family, a comfortable home, plenty of food and clothing and care, resources to enjoy hobbies, ministries in which to serve, a sound mind, and good health for me and my boys. In the days when I feel abandoned, I need only look past the end of my nose to see how much He has given me.  That's a really good thing for me to focus on right now.

Love to you all.


  1. Thanks for the update and I will pray for your family. Matthew is certainly turning into a "Big Boy" and it won't be long before Abel and Belle are toddlers too. Crazy, huh?

    Also, don't feel bad about letting him play in his crib for 30-60 minutes. We do the same thing in our house. If they are not crying, then they are having a good time. Mine will definitely let me know when they are not happy - they will cry and/or scream. So as long as I hear silence and/or happy squeals, I let them play while I get other things done that I can't do once I begin chasing them around the house. :)

  2. Jen, I will be praying for you. The verse, "Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think upon these things" comes to mind. (Please excuse the rough paraphrase.) Through the years, I have found such strength in keeping my eyes on Jesus in the midst of crisis and pain. He will carry you through this.
    And just to let you know, my oldest EA baby just turned four, and I expLikerience those weepy moments like you described having at the museum all the time. I hope I never lose sight of the miraculous gift God has given us.

  3. Jen, we will be praying for you and Todd and Matthew.

  4. Can't believe he's seventeen months old already! I'm sorry for whatever sorrow you're bearing right now, but I also look at those pictures of you guys and am just so happy you're all together and healthy and have each other. God give you grace to hold the joy and the sorrow together - so weird how often that's what we have to do.

  5. I'm sorry you're having a rough time right now. You can do all things through Christ! Praying for you.

  6. Jen, Adam is THREE and I still get teary eyed and all boohooey when we go do something new for the first time-ME a MOM and he, MY CHILD. I pray that it never goes away!

  7. Hi, Jen. I read Sheila's blog, and I know what you're going through, having gone through a similar experience. If you ever need my support, you can feel free to email or call me. My emaill is
    God bless,