on being. thankful.

Learning this year that living with a spirit of Thanksgiving doesn’t mean dismissing painful and difficult realities or seeing everything through rose-colored glasses. That Thanksgiving and sadness, as it turns out, are not mutually exclusive. That sometimes the things for which we are thankful are also things that we grieve and miss, and things that have come into our lives with some sort of loss attached.

Attempting today to embrace the beauty and brokenness, the nostalgia and longing, the laughter and sadness that seem to be especially muddled and poignant at this time of year. Figuring out how to somehow hold them all at once without dismissing the depth and reality of each of them. Finding there, in that place of being fully present and aware of it all, a thanksgiving that is weighty and, for me, more true.

Thinking today of our Ritz-family (missing your presence around our table and the way your warm hospitality always made every celebration more savory), my grandparents in Vermont (may your last Thanksgiving in the home you have built move extra slow and be extra sweet- how I wish we could be there too!), of Cora and Elias’ family in Uganda (how I miss you on behalf of those kids and how I long to share a table and daily life with you, how I long for your every need to be met and your bellies and hearts to be full of every good thing), of our beloved Dicksons (you are loved and missed more than you know), of all those I love so much and wish I could celebrate with today, of those of you who are hurting and questioning and alone (come to our table!), and of those who have suffered loss this year and who just might be finding it hard to “feel” thankful. May all of our “Thanksgivings” today be more about embracing reality and being present in whatever situation we find ourselves and in that, may we discover the gift of today.

celebrate adoption 2014

world adoption day

Adoption is important to our family, and, truth is, it has been for a long time now. The definition of adoption found in the dictionary says something about “choosing or taking as one’s own” and by this definition, there are many who have been adopted into our family even before Cora and Elias. There are many grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who bear no blood relation to us but who are family to us nonetheless. This bond of love draws together unrelated things (in this case, people), and offers whatever it has (physical, mental, emotional) for the well being and wholeness of the other. It is life-giving and essential to our growth and development. Adoptive family is powerful, and we all need the sense of security that comes from being known, and loved, and part of something bigger than ourselves. We have experienced this reality ourselves, and we love extending that same reality to others whenever and however possible. Will you join us in doing the same?

You can start by joining in the celebration of the first World Adoption Day next week. To find out how you can participate, click here: http://worldadoptionday.org

May the world be changed and challenged and a little more beautiful as we celebrate a love that sees, knows, chooses, and embraces. It doesn’t get much better than that.

a walk in the park

We took a break from our adoption errands and stopped at the Sheraton hotel downtown to take a stroll through the park and let the kids blow off some steam. It was a beautiful place to walk around and it had plenty to keep the kids entertained, including giant (live) storks, a playground, and a large empty fountain perfect for climbing. Our driver and friend, Patrick, snapped some shots of our family (photos haven’t been the priority on this trip and we are having trouble getting very many with all of us in it). Here are a few of the best of the day:

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how the kids are

A friend who spent time with us when we first got the twins has been away for two weeks and upon seeing the kids again remarked how different they are. Their demeanor, their comfort level and attachment to us, their behavior, and even the look of their faces and bodies is different. It’s hard for me to keep that perspective when we see them everyday and when the struggles still seem to be so real, but it’s true. The kids are a world different today than when we first got them.

exhibit a: There was silence in our house at BOTH nap and bedtime today. No crying or fussing- just two kids happily dozing off to sleep.

exhibit b: Macy and Owen approach the twins during a meal time and there is no fit thrown. No threat of food being stolen. Just smiles.

exhibit c: Elias sees (and hears) a vacuum cleaner for the first time tonight. He points and tries to mimic the sound (as opposed to screaming and jumping on a parents lap).

exhibit d: Some of the issues we have are actual, normal, 2 year old issues. Sharing and not wanting to be told “no” top that list.

Macy & Owen also continue to do well. School started this week for Macy, and so we started school here, too. We were fortunate enough to get her math and language arts books from her school (thank you Mrs. Roberts) and so we have started setting aside time every day to do some work in each book, and to work on her journal from the trip. She loves it. Owen has also been doing “school work,” each day (though his is unofficial). He loves doing his two workbooks and journals just like his big sister.

Macy is anxious to get back to her school to meet her teacher, see her class, and start to make new friends. She has not complained about being here, but she has said she doesn’t want to miss out on all that is going on there. I get it. I was feeling pretty sad about her having to miss the first day of school this week, too. It’s such an important milestone, and such a fun time of year. It’s hard to be gone.

Owen seems to have grown about a foot since we’ve been here (at least, to me, he looks HUGE). He eats and sleeps well, complains very little (except when I make him eat something he’s not super crazy about), and plays VERY well with both his older and younger siblings. He misses Isaac, Graham, Kallai and the whole crew at the nursery. He’s constantly asking me to text photos and share stories with his buddies, and he cannot wait to get home to see them all. He turns 5 a week from today!

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The interaction between Elias and Cora is so fun to watch. They cheer each other up, share food, sing songs (that none of us know except for them), play games, and have their own language they use to communicate. These two have weathered a lot together in their little lives already. I’m so glad they will have each other as they go forward, too.

This shot was not staged. Thanks to Soph for catching it on film!