#itwasagoodday

It may have been quiet on the blog recently, but I’ve been blogging… in my head. There are many things I’ve been thinking about, some that I’ve actually started writing about, and none that have actually made it all the way to publishing (oops). I think that time is coming sooner than later though, as writing continues to be an outlet for me to process all that I am experiencing, and, these days, I have no shortage of experiences to process. I just haven’t had the mental bandwidth for much creativity lately. The holidays (we pack in a few extra birthdays, and an anniversary with the  Christmas/New Year standards), the transition back to full-time work (after being away 4 months), and many other unique situations and special events have kept my plate full and my bandwidth minimal. It has been a season of celebration and transition, but I’m sure at least some stories and musings will show up here soon enough!

As for today, there are a couple of noteworthy things I thought I’d document (partially because I can’t believe they are real, and writing them here at least makes them exist somewhere outside of my head, ha).

  • This morning was the easiest start to a work day that we have had yet. Note: easiest, not easy. Things were far from leisurely over here- but they were peaceable, orderly, and, for the most part, enjoyable. Everyone ended up in the right place with some time to spare and no exasperated “hurry up, we are going to be late”‘s were uttered by mom (see my post about “experiencing mom” for more on that. Oh wait, that’s still in my head too, dang it).
  • For the first time, the kids self-divided for play based on gender. The boys played cars in the house, the girls ran around the yard together. This made me pause for a moment of appreciation 1) because everyone was entertained and 2) because Macy and Owen each wanted a brother and sister to play with so badly, and here they were, finally getting to relate and play together just as they’d hoped. #goodtimesahead
  • We made it through our Monday walk with just one meltdown and time out and returned home with everyone happy and smiling, without a single diaper blowout. Big deal. Last week I thought we were going to have to quit our Monday walking tradition just to save my sanity, and this week it actually felt like… a walk in the park. Mind you, we aren’t talking about a little jaunt- we are talking about a 5 mile trek that includes dinner by stroller, so the twins have justifiably required some time to get acclimated to this adventure. It seems they have finally decided they like it, and I do too.

Status

Also big news today (and a sign of increasingly better health), Cora cut a tooth! That makes three teeth in total. Watch out developmental delays… your days are numbered here! We are comin’ after you.

#shellbeeatingsteakbeforeyouknowit

Status

This morning the twins wandered to another room of the house and started playing with toys while I cleaned up from breakfast. That might seem “normal” for most two-year-old kids, but for the last few weeks my kids have been following me around the house whining if I tried to get anything done. The fact that they are starting to venture out a little bit on their own is a sign that they are feeling more comfortable in our home and that they are feeling more securely attached to me. It’s good news.

It’s also good news because it means I can get a few things done around the house (hopefully).

today’s milestone: first visit to the pediatrician

Today was a day I had dreamt about for a long time: Cora and Elias’ first doctor appointment. It was nuts. I don’t think I’ve mentioned on here that the kids do not like the doctors. At all. They have some traumatic memories associated with medical care, and every time we set foot near someone with a stethoscope around their neck (even minus the infamous white coat), the tears start flowing. This is why I have put it off a few weeks since our arrival home. I really wanted to give the kids some time to adjust without putting them in a situation where they had to be afraid. Time’s up!

We get to the doctors office and I’m greeted with 2 stacks of paperwork to fill out. The kids play happily with the toys and I start filling out the papers. All is well, I think. But the doctor is fantastically timely today and less than 5 minutes into my paperwork, the nurse comes out and calls us back. Then it begins- measurements, examinations, poking, prodding, and the grad finale, some vaccinations. I’m still trying to fill out the papers, but the kids are really upset and this is my chance to comfort them and establish more connection by meeting their needs. Paperwork loses and I’m on the floor, two crying babies on my lap. Doctor, perched on chair, talking through vaccination catch-up, circumcision quandary, and developmental milestones. It was unlike any previous appointment I’d had. We leave (babies comforted and quieted by now), and it’s my turn to cry. Thinking about these two, their crazy medical history, and the care they have needed but have been unable to get, is overwhelming and has been a point of sadness throughout our process. To be able to provide that care, is something quite wonderful (even though they hate it).

Today I’m thankful for that mess of an appointment- for the screaming babies, the vaccinations that made them cry, and for the oh-so-patient doctor and nurses who somehow managed to get high-fives from the kids on their way out…  it’s another thing that has been re-framed for me in this season and something that one of you dear people will need to remind me of years down the road when preventative care (for myself or for my kids) is something that feels inconvenient.

elias on the scale

Elias on the scale. Both kids have gained 5 lbs already! Elias is in the 10th percentile and Cora is in the 2nd. At the rate they are growing it won’t be long before they are right on track.

post shots

I call this the “I survived my first round of vaccinations” photo. Pictured is the good-natured nurse (in her cowboy costume for halloween) who gave them their shots. #snacksmakeeverythingfeelbetter #sodohugsfrommom #butmostlysnacks

fair warning

I know it’s been a quiet two weeks on the blog, but be fore-warned… a day is coming soon when there will be a fury of updates. Some of these updates will be ones from our days in Uganda- stories, musings and photos that I just did not have time (or energy) to finish and share at the time. Others will be updates from since we have been back- how the kids and family are doing, plus some other random and thought-provoking things I’ve been wrestling with.

Until then, thanks to all of you who have encouraged me about this blog and who have asked for more posts. Know that right now I’m focused on the most important work of transitioning the family well, and that as soon as there is some bandwidth in the evening hours (meaning that I don’t fall asleep sitting upright while trying to turn on the computer), you’ll hear from me.

home.

Feeling thankful, humbled, taken care of, energized and something slightly past exhausted. Thank you to our community of family and friends who made our homecoming so special. I literally am at a lack for the right words to describe just how much your love, care and support (expressed in so many different ways) means to us during this time. Thank you. I’m excited to share more of our homecoming story with you later, but tonight’s priorities are in getting settled and prepped for the rest of the week. It’s a big day tomorrow- Macy and Owen’s first day of school! These two have been such troopers for these last 7 weeks, making so many sacrifices without complaining, that I’m making their first day back a little extra special this year. The table is decorated and the red plates are out. I can’t wait to have some fun celebrating their first day. #reallifefeelssogood #returntonormal

the grand finale

When the first 10 minutes of our road trip to the twins’ village included me getting pooped on by a child AND a member of our car throwing up, I wondered if perhaps we had undertaken a little too much adventure. It was our last day in country after-all. Should we stay home and relax? Start packing perhaps? Were we really up for this?

I had known all along that this day was important. From the get go, I had asked our agency if it would be possible to make a trip to the kids’ birthplace, to meet some friends and family, and to try and capture as much of their story on film and in word as possible. I knew there would be a day when, as the kids grew, they would wonder about who they are and where they came from, and I wanted to have good answers. I wanted my kids to know the larger story they tie in to, and I wanted our whole family to experience part of the twins’ story together. So, because we had to wait until after the embassy process was complete, and because we finished that process just 2 days before leaving for “home,” today was our one shot.

The drive out to the village was, of course, beautiful. I still can’t get enough of the Ugandan countryside and all of its beauty. I can stare at it for hours out the window and never lose interest. We made fairly good time and were soon driving down a narrow dirt road to a simple brick home. We pulled up and out of the house bounded the most joyful and genuine welcome I’ve received. I will never forget it. One woman, Nalongo they call her, was jumping up and down waving and clapping her hands, singing and laughing. When I stepped out of the car she embraced me several times, staring deep into my eyes, expressing gratitude and love. Home.

Everyone was glad to see the twins. They all wanted to hold and kiss them, which the kids obviously were not thrilled about. No one could believe how much healthier they looked. It was a true celebration. The love also extended towards Macy and Owen and they were troopers like always- offering hugs, handshakes and photo op’s to everyone who asked (Macy at one point changed her hairstyle because she thought that’s why people were staring at her. She then realized it was her white hair and skin that was attracting the attention, not her ponytail).

We proceeded inside the home for some story-telling time. We heard stories about how the family came to live in that area, how the kids’ mom and dad met, the story of the twins’ birth and the significance of each of their names. It was a sweet time.

After stories were told it was announced that they had made us a meal to share and out from the back of the house came pots of chicken, beef, rice, and matoke. They had even gone out of their way to purchase bottled waters for us all to drink. It was the most extravagant and generous meal that has ever been set before me I’m sure. The sacrifice that went in to getting and making the food was evident and appreciated. It was a gesture of true gratitude.

At the conclusion of lunch, Simon, the children’s father, asked to “bless” the children before they left. What proceeded to follow was probably my highlight of the whole trip so far. Friends and family of the twins crammed into the front room, everyone extending a hand of blessing on or towards the kids. Simon spoke bravely and eloquently, surrendering his children and asking for God’s protection over and presence with them as they go. When he said, “amen” the place erupted in song as people celebrated God’s provision for the twin’s. We concluded by singing the twin’s favorite song all together (their faces, the people, the weight of the moment… too much to put to words).

After some sibling play time, a little sibling gift giving (from Macy and Owen to the older bio siblings of Cora and Elias), and a few more photos, it was time for us to load up again and head home.

I’m so thankful we got the chance to spend some time in Cora and Elias’ village with the people who have been important in their lives so far. It is clear that they are so loved. So much so that their dad has bravely decided that it is in their best interest to be placed in our care, as hard as that may be. After the visit today, I feel a new weight and privilege as I get to parent these two children going forward. They are the children of a mom and dad who had great hopes and dreams for their kids and great love, too. Dave and I get to continue to build off that solid foundation they have built and we will be sure the kids know just how loved they are- by their family in Uganda, and by their family in the US. In many ways, this adoption is more of an “expansion” of our family than it is a simple addition of two new members into our existing unit. Our family is expanding into new countries and cultures. The people we met today are now a very important part of our story and I hope they will continue to be. I’m already scheming ways to make that so.

Earlier this week I used the hashtags #gobigorgohome #gobigANDgohome. I think with today’s adventure we have done just that. It was a big day and I now feel armed with some important pieces of knowledge about my children’s past that I did not previously have, and not just a knowledge, but an experience of it’s beauty and richness that will be forever treasured (by all of us). Now, I think, we are ready. Home we go. #stillsomanyblogstowrite #somanyblogssolittletime