Wednesday, January 23, 2013

memory lane


The effort to tag along on my man's business trip for a few days has proved worth every frustration.  We flew from Salt Lake City to Ft. Myers, Florida yesterday and although we had to leave at an ungodly hour of the morning, we were both giddy upon arriving at our last city we called home.

Nearly three years after we were married, we jumped at the opportunity to relocate from Buffalo, New York to the gulf coast of Florida.  Our years in Ft. Myers marked our biggest life change, as this is the place where our first child was born.  Two became three and we discovered how much we loved being parents.

So much so, that we added another, and another, and another, and another.....

Before heading to our hotel, we drove past the apartment complex where we lived for the first year here with our two dogs, which were our only babies for that season.  We pointed out the neighborhoods we used to walk our dogs through and how we would dream of buying a house comparable to the ones we passed.

And then we laughed at how life has changed in nearly 14 years.

We made a special trip over to our house that was home for the rest of our time here.  It sits at a great location, very near the water on a little cul-de-sac off a historic road.  We expected it to have undergone major renovations since we sold it when we moved to Utah in 2002.

We two became three in this house.
Not so.  With the exception of the very large motorhome being stored in the driveway, it looks very much the same.  A new roof, a little paint, and a tree taken out were the only changes we could pick out.  We laughed at our happy memories in this house and pointed out where we sat for one of our Christmas card pictures.  We awed at how blessed we were to live in a great spot in Florida and then move to a very different, but equally great spot in Utah.

Brendan doesn’t remember living in that house, but I will never forget decorating his nursery, bringing him home from the hospital, giving him his first bath in the kitchen sink, and our early morning nursings in the quiet living room.

The best part about living here is that we made some wonderful, life-long friendships.  We moved here practically as newlyweds, and it didn’t take longer than an hour in a local church’s Sunday school class to become befriended by some of the finest people we know to this day, and that we still call friends over a decade later.

We are excited to reconnect face to face with these fine folks in the next couple of days.  I have no doubt that the easy laughter and genuine interest in each other’s lives will surface immediately when we are together.  I consider that a gift and I will not take it for granted.

So, we miss our kiddos and surely we will be excited to see them again on Sunday.  But until then, I’m going to soak up the sun, sleep, and silence.  I will enjoy the alone time with my beloved and our uninterrupted conversations, walks on the beach, soaks in the hot tub, and naps without consideration for any parental responsibilities.

I’m going to indulge my introvert nature and recharge my mommy-battery so that I return excited for the messy and wonderful life we live.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

she's three

A letter to my daughter's birth mother on her third birthday.

Dearest,

I'm looking at my daughter today on her third birthday and thinking of you.  I know that today is her actual day of birth because you took the loving care to leave a detailed note next to her 4.8 pound newness wrapped in a warm blanket.

You wrote it on red paper, which I know means you were wishing her good luck in her future.

For that, and so much more, I am grateful.

But this letter is to you, and although I cannot mail it, and you will never read it, I want to write it.  I want to tell you about our daughter.

She is a tiny little squirt.  She is three years old today, however, she fits perfectly in size 2T clothing and no bigger.  Weighing in at 27 pounds, she has gained over seven pounds in the nine months since joining our family, but she is still just a peanut.  Her body is very strong and muscular though.  She is already showing her athleticism through tumbling and skiing.

Her weight on her earliest records lead me to wonder if she was born prematurely, or if tiny is just in her genes.  Her size reminds me that she is a fighter though, and I can see that she was from the very start.  She has clawed and battled her way through this transition.  Her loud, strong, and persistent cry makes us sure that she made her presence known on that January day when you parted from her.

She has worked through the obvious emotions of "hating to love us" and now she is on the precipice of releasing her full heart to us.  I can see it on the horizon.

She is so smart and readily imitates her brothers.  Just this week, I was paying close attention to her brother as he was reading me a story he wrote.  With five children, I try to devote individual attention as much as possible.  Joya tried to interrupt me several times, but I asked her to wait.

Five minutes after it was over and I was on to my next task, she came up to me with a piece of scratch paper in hand and held it just like her brother did as she proceeded to "read" me her story.  As complete jibber-jabber flowed from her mouth, my heart overflowed at what a quick study she is.

Our girl potty trained faster than any Sweeney before her.  The best part is that she stays completely dry through the night and has recently hit the milestone of now being able to use the bathroom without my help.

She must sense that she is a big girl now because she even refuses to use the plastic utensils that I have always provided her for her meals and insists on the metal ones that the rest of the family uses.

Her language is developing and she has great manners.  Whenever I serve her a meal, she says, "Day-doo Mama!" without prompting.  I don't ever want to forget that she calls underwear "ow-wa-dare" and she still calls a drink a "di-di," but is now getting more specific with having "water" or "milk."

She LOVES to dance.  She loves loud, fun music.  I am in disbelief at what a transformation we have seen in her time here.  She used to wiggle a little while her brothers boogied, but now she appears to hold nothing back and is the first to join into our family dance sessions.

She is starting to be picky about what she wears and would love to pick out her clothes every day and night.  Luckily, she submits to me if I must restrict what she wants to wear, but I have visions of our coming battles when she is a teenager.

She has been looking forward to her birthday for months now, as her entire family has celebrated birthdays since she has been home, and hers is finally here.  She knows what it means to have a cake and blow out candles.  She has been practicing telling us she's, "TWO!  Nu-uh, FWEEE!"

Last year I wrote to you because we were both apart from her and loving her from a distance.  This year, I want you to know that we have her, we love her, and we love you for your loving sacrifice.

I spent some extra time just rocking her chest to chest with her head nuzzled beneath my chin yesterday.  I soaked up my two year-old and started to pray over her third year.  I prayed for you too, and for her foster family that filled the gap between us so fully.

Her birthday cake is a colorful flower.  I looked for a sunshine design because her favorite song is "You are My Sunshine," and I thought she would be tickled at a cake that illustrated that.  But before I became frustrated at not finding my first choice, I saw the beautiful flower and was flooded with the parallel of how her little soul has blossomed since we have known her.

I'm certain that she is not done yet, and I am looking forward to enjoying the beauty of her bloom.

Friday, January 4, 2013

why messy and wonderful?


Our littlest wonderful mess maker.
My blog name needed to change for quite some time now.  Adoption has changed our lives in more ways than one and I’m really not in my “world surrounded by men” anymore.  I have been deliberately hiding from my blog for many reasons, but the change and overhaul was one of them.

Joya's adjustment into our family has been a moving target of what we might be dealing with next.  With each new challenge, we wonder if it is caused by the trauma of adoption or if it is merely a part of her two year-old life.  Should we handle it by doing "A" or "B" and which one won't traumatize her even more???  It's been messy.

But, when she counts off each family member by name every morning and reaches her arms out with a smile several times a day with the words, " I HOOOLLLD MAMA!" - wonderful doesn't even begin to describe it.  When we watch our fifth child take up skiing just like the other four have, with squeals of joy and a desire to go faster, our hearts overflow with how wonderful and worthwhile all of the mess is.

Tonight's dinner was breakfast burritos, served one at a time because our house was a complex machine of people coming and going tonight.  My meal prep and service was messy tonight.

But when they sat down to eat it, everyone loved dinner, and that is wonderful.

Our boys spent their coveted Christmas break passing the flu from one brother to the next, not coordinating well enough to all get through it at the same time.  We looked like a sick mess, but they all loved to snuggle close and watch lots of DVDs, day after day, and that was wonderful.

Down and out over Christmas break
The sickness was only compounded by the fact that our 40 year old furnace finally leaned too closely to, “Hey I might just leak enough carbon monoxide in the night to kill you all,” so we made the executive decision to shut it off and live without heat until we could get a new one installed.   We must install it in a new location in the house in order to actually conform to building codes.  This all happened while our outside temps in this mountain ski town dipped down to negative numbers.  Warm blankets and cold noses!!!

So now, we have walls ripped apart and floor plans being drawn for an unexpected and expensive project.  We are wearing fleeces and running space heaters.  There is a layer of messy construction dust almost everywhere I turn.

But soon it will be done.  We’ll be warm.  We have saved money for the unexpected, and it will be wonderful.

Our house is constantly noisy and it is never completely picked up.  By the time we finally update the outdated avocado green carpeting and 1970’s bathrooms in our house, the “new” kitchen we remodeled nearly six years ago will be outdated.

The papers on my desk scream, “PAY ME!  FILE ME!  READ ME!”

Parenting our brood is a nearly humorous trial and error experiment cycle as we weigh and measure each child’s needs, temperament, good and bad deeds, love language, and hormone level. Then we try to match all that adequately against our best prayerful guess of what is needed AND muster the energy to execute the plan.

My head hits the pillow at night yearning for a couple of extra hours to supernaturally sneak in to my REM cycle, yet the 6:30 a.m. alarm always feels too soon and too painful.  But during those hours, I’m wonderfully intertwined with My Beloved, who I love and respect more each day that I know him. 

We snooze when we can.
All that leads up to the fact that when I showed My Beloved my short list of truly inspiring and (I thought) fitting titles, it lead to a discussion about naming my blog something that reflects ME.  Not my kids, husband, passions, job, or interests.

So I asked him, who knows me best of all: “Who do you say I am then?”

He paused, looked down at the floor, then shrugged and sighed and said, “Messy and wonderful,” to which we both broke out into whole-hearted laughter.

To revisit in another post is the fact that ten years ago, that comment would have hurt my feelings and had me personally offended for being called messy.

But I am.  And our life is.

But it is so WONDERFUL.

About Me

My photo
Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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