Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I can spell red.

The other day, I hear the familiar sing-songy voice of my little guy playing and singing in the living room. It's a new song. One he clearly learned at school. So I listened with a smile (and a burst of pride) as he sang:

"I can spell red! 
I can spell red! 
That spells red. 
That spells red."

 My smile widened to a grin followed by an eye-roll when the next verse began,

 "I can spell dinosaur! 
I can spell dinosaur! 
That spells dinosaur. 
That spells dinosaur." 

Clearly, while memorizing the tune and mastering the pattern of the song...he had missed the meaning entirely. He was singing words he didn't really understand. Words that sounded good and seemed correct at first- but were quickly disproven by the words that followed them just moments later.
He, in his innocence, was none the wiser. 
 And though I found pleasure in listening to him sing, and while I think his misapplication was quite cute -  I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a twinge of disappointment. For while he was spelling "red" he didn't know he was "spelling red"...so he wasn't really spelling red...(whoa...that was confusing).
But I wasn't upset.
Not only because he's 4 years old and has done much worse things to upset me. (lol)
But because I have faith. 
Because I know that one day he will learn to spell red and understand it.
I have the hope that one day he will spell "dinosaur" and "serendipity" and "Mississippi" (because I'll teach him that cool chant of course) and what he doesn't know how to spell he'll fix through spell check just like his momma.
I wasn't upset because I believe that as he grows, he will learn, and as he learns, he will gain knowledge, and with that knowledge, he can obtain wisdom.
I wasn't upset because he isn't the first person to say something in confidence and be wrong.
He isn't the first one to repeat a truth he doesn't understand at all.
He isn't the the first child to confuse, misinterpret or misuse a tool that was meant to foster learning.
And he won't be the last.
In fact, isn't that what we all do? 

Later that day, I couldn't help but smile again as I thought of myself. 
My own words.
My own sing-songy musings in my head of how things are, how life should happen, and how my life was going to be.
I can hear my teenage self planning my adulthood. 
Who I would marry and what my wedding would be like and how many children I would have.
I can hear my college self preparing for my classroom and all the adorable, obedient students I would teach. Oh they would just love school with me as their teacher!
(and yes...I realize my teenage self was jumping the gun quite a bit. 
But I'm not exaggerating. I had all my kids names picked out. 
And hair and eye color. My poor mother...)
 I can hear my newlywed self daydreaming about the day we would have a baby. What month we should get pregnant so as to coincide with spring break and summer vacation to ensure the most maternity leave. How I would decorate the nursery.
How she would look just like me but with dark curls instead of blonde.
I had it all figured out.
Every step of my life was in my control because it was my life.
And let me tell you, this philosophy was spot on.

I got everything I'd wanted!

I graduated with my teaching certificate and fully prepared to teach in any situation! I knew all the ins-and-outs of the education system because after all - it was all about teaching the kids right? I got a job at the first school I came to, was given a classroom full of geniuses who didn't even need me, and I just sat there and smiled at how perfect my classroom looked! It was a Mary Poppins-Frauline Maria experience. Not a shred of paper on the floor. Not a drop of water around the sink. And all new materials for my students. I never ran late, never had to yell, and had my own bathroom right across the hallway. I had a perfect outdoor wedding with not a drop of rain and married that super cute Senior boy who's name I won't mention because my husband would see it. We had 2 girls and a boy who all looked like me except for their beautiful dark hair, and my house was furnished like it was out of a magazine. A pottery barn magazine...but with an "anthropologie" twist. 
Poof. Planned. Perfect.

So maybe that's not all true.
In fact, starting halfway through the first sentence it was all pretty much fabricated.

I did become a teacher. 
Was it what I planned? Not really. Not at all actually. Instead, I was challenged and stretched everyday by students, parents, peers and the "*the powers that be." I ran late because I stopped all to often for my life-blood (Starbucks) and yelled in frustration on numerous occasions. I turned the lights off so often I probably saved the county thousands of dollars. There was always paper on the floor and the counter around the sink was never dry. 
And the bathroom...let's just say I got so used to holding it I sometimes forget how to pee.
But I loved it.
 I loved it with so much of my heart that I still get teary when I think about those kids I taught and the teachers I taught with.
I still miss them.
I still miss those days.
I thank God that I had them...and everything that came with them.
(*the powers that be : people in high places who make decisions about our schools and education and tell teachers who/what/when/why/how we should teach but have never actually been in the classroom)

I did get married.
Not to the Senior I spotted across the lunch room that freshman year and stalked for a good 6 months.
But to the boy in my homeroom who's mom taught "Family and Consumer Science" down the hallway. The boy who made everyone laugh. Who cared more about having fun than what he was wearing. (which btw was usually a polo shirt tucked into his khaki shorts paired with white socks and Birkenstocks.) The boy who wore a rain poncho and prescription goggles to his soccer practices and had only been to 2 stores at the mall when we started dating : JCPenney's and LensCrafters. I married the first "guy friend" I ever had. The first boy I ever kissed. My best friend. And on our wedding day it poured rain and thundered like Thor himself was going to spilt the sky.
Man he's hot. That Thor guy.
Have you seen the movie?
There's a new one coming out!!
Thank goodness he didn't show up at my wedding and cause me to have a "runaway bride moment!"
That could have been awkward...
oh. wait. I digress...and my husband is still reading this...
I love you honey... :)

We do have a house.
And it's just that - a house.
A house that is nothing without the people who live in it.
With furnishing that include my parents' couch, David's grandmother's kitchen table and a bedroom set from Big Lots.
Ah. Big Lots. You sweetly surprised me there.
You went above and beyond. Many thanks.
Do we have a lot of stuff?
Yes. Too much.
Was it all from a magazine?
No. I got real.
Do I love everything about it?
No. Thank heaven!
Because what a nightmare I would be setting myself up for if I did?! If you really love your "things"...you're in for a rude awakening someday. Things can be stolen. Things can break and fade and fall apart. Things can take over your house until you're so covered in things you're on a TLC show.
You can't take your things with you.
And some day...all those things is gonna burn! 
(cue haunting cackle)

I'm thankful for the things we have and the provisions we need.
But I could sell it all tomorrow. And someday I just might.
Then I could by a really nice camera...

Last but not least...we did have a baby.

A boy.

A boy who looked nothing like me at birth. Who in fact looked like a tiny cloning of my father-in-law. A boy whose future was threatened before he was even born and who exemplifies what the word miracle means to me.

A boy who melts my heart with his smile and can see my soul with his eyes.
A boy whose eyelashes are the envy of every girl and rivals that of the charmingly-moody guy that works at Starbucks  (you know who you are).

 A little boy whose spirit is incomparable and whose curls are just dark enough to make my dreams come true.

A little boy who is everything I didn't plan...and more perfect than I ever imagined.

So what do I mean by all this?

Just that in my son's little misunderstanding - I realized how mislead I myself at times have been. How often I am still mistaken as to what God has planned for me. In my 4 year old's "untruth" I saw the truth about my humanity. How I view things as "unfair" and interpret events to be "because of this" or feel confused at how my best laid plans have been crumpled up like a rough draft of a novel. Because that's the point. It's a novel I was never in charge of writing in the first place.
That job belongs to the Author and Perfecter.

And it's okay if I get it wrong. Mix things up. Speak in ignorance from time to time.

He will edit me.
He will teach me.
He will mold me into what He wants me to be.
It may not always be fun.
But it will be worth it.

And just like my son. I will learn.
With each new day,  Lord-willing,  I will learn a little bit more about the things I don't understand.
I will gain clarity in areas that used to be blurry and I will find enlightenment in areas I didn't even know were shadowed.

I don't know it all. And I never will. 

But I can spell red.

And I'm thinking... that's not a bad place to start.

Friday, August 16, 2013

1,000 Words

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.

That beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And that seeing is believing.

They say the best things come in small packages.

That you can't judge a book by it's cover.

And that two heads are better than one.

They say time flies when you're having fun.

That good things come to those who wait.

And to look before you leap...

...but what about a leap of faith?

A leap of faith is not based on foresight and there is little control over the outcome. A leap of faith is not just talking about what you'd like to do or halfway committing to an idea. A leap of faith is the moment when the sum of all you believe and all you desire and all you are made of come together to take a risk. To make a choice.
To take a chance.
To say yes.
To let go.
To wait and watch what will happen next.
And to maintain the faith that no matter what happens...you will stand by your decision to leap.

To say this picture is worth 1,000 words would be the understatement of the year, for thousands upon thousands of words have been written about this child. By the mother and father who long to bring her home. By the friends and family who have been advocating for her adoption. By myself over the past 10 months. So many hearts -writing and talking and working to raise the funds necessary to bring this precious girl home.

And I'm writing to tell you...our work is not done friends.

From what I've observed/researched/witnessed, adoption is as much a financial journey as it is a emotional one.
It is easily some of the most overwhelming statistics I've heard.

But we're not talking about financing a house.
Or buying a car.
Or saving up for retirement.

We're talking about saving a life.

We're talking about Sofi Rose.
Born with spina bifida,  an orphan in Eastern Europe, and living with myriad of un-met medical needs that only add to her basic physical, emotional and mental needs of a child living without.
Whose big brown eyes reached into the very souls Tracy and Stu Jensen - and in that moment their hearts claimed her as their own.

Some time has passed.
A whole year in fact.
Many wait for their babies for 9 months and often feel the wait is torturous.
Imagine waiting over a year for a child you love, but have never met....a child without family. Imagine not being able to control or even KNOW where she is...what she's doing...how she's treated...or when you can see her. Wondering if you will ever get there. Praying she will be okay until then.

Countless days this family has waited.
All of them spent working, praying, pleading, organizing, delegating, researching, perservering in every way possible to raise funds to adopt this little girl into their family.
And not just any family...but a family of 5 boys. 
That's right.
Sofi is not only waiting for her mommy and daddy...but 5 big brothers to love and protect her.

I could write chapters about this family, these boys - what makes them special and how much my own son would love nothing more than for me to fly him out to Cali and left him with the Jensen boys! lol.
 I could tell you of their strength of character and how much they make their mother laugh.
I could tell you about how different they all are - and yet how their personalities weave and twist together create the most incredible combination of young men.
I could tell you I want 5 just like them.
And honestly...I wouldn't be lying.
So when I see sweet Sofi's face...I not only imagine who she could be with them...
...but who they could be with her.

(yep. That's my little guy in the orange tank top with Tracy. An "honorary" Jensen boy.)

But changing a life.
Rewriting a future.
Redefining a family.

 That isn't something one person, or one family or one community can do on their own.
This kind of love is beyond big.
And it takes a beyond big effort to keep it going.
It is outgrowing those who have already worked to cultivate it and now it is spreading.
To you...and your heart.
Will you help keep it going?

Share the link. Spread the word.
This world is so big. And there are so many people with big hearts.
Let's get Sofi's story to them.

How many words is her picture worth to you?

For me...there will never be enough.

They say mother's love is not divided among her children...but multiplied.

That to really understand someone, you must walk a mile in their shoes.

And that home is where the heart is.

So. I ask you.

If to give is really more blessed than to receive...

...and true love really does conquer all...

...and every girl is indeed a princess...

Then what are you waiting for?

Believe in something bigger than yourself.

Help create a world you want to live in.

Take risks that are worth just the hope of success.

Fight without reservation for something worth fighting for.

And live your life like the gift it is. 

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.
You know what else they say...

Actions speak louder than words.

So go.
Do something.
Something that gives life meaning and purpose and joy.

And never...ever...stop.

To give to the Jensen family and help them bring Sofi Rose home.

And to learn more about this incredible family and their journey, please read Tracy's blog:

Monday, July 29, 2013



Oh, May. 
My third favorite month of the year. 
Please excuse how uncharacteristcally I neglected you.
You don't deserve that. 
After all - you host Mother's Day, the end of the school year, and hold more birthdays for my family than any other month - including that of myself and my little man!
You are truly a lovely month who should be at least honored by a few blog posts each year. But don't take it personally, as there are other months this year who have gone unrecognized. June only had one post as well this year and it was about something that happened in May....so technically June got jipped.
Now June's gonna be mad.
(and she's a real piece of work.)
It's impossible to please all 12 months these days! And at the rate I've been going I'm lucky to get a massive blog combo-post out just summarizing each season.
I better crank some posts out now before July is over and I have offended 1/4th of the entire year.

It's a good thing I've got enough pictures to go around. ;)

First a few May moments...

Mother's Day

Aside from being a mother to the most incredible little bit of sunshine/tasmanian devil...

 ...I too have a wonderful mother to be celebrated.

I am increasingly grateful to her as the years go by. Days really. She is so much of who I am and who I want to be. I know that not all daughters have this kind of relationship with their mothers. Not all mothers have daughters. (And as one I will I say - being mommy to my boy is pretty stinkin awesome.) Not all daughters have their mothers. Whether by tragedy or accident or choice - not everyone has a mother. And in contrast some have more than one. The idea of mother has come to mean so much more to me in my brief years as a mom - not only from becoming one - but from observing and witnessing those around me.
Those who miss their mothers. Those who have become new mothers. Those who long to be mothers. Those who mothers to children far away - waiting for their adoptive family. Those who are mothers to children who are no longer in this world...some of whom they never even saw, or carried them only a short while, or carried them till the end only to see them for a brief moment before having to part with their most precious gift.
Mothers are born before their babies ever are.
And this beautiful mystery is so powerful it can both make and break your heart in an instant.
To my mother and all mothers, to all who have mothers holding their hands or who now hold their mothers in their hearts.
I send you my deepest love and tightest hugs.

We love you momma. So much that we recreated this old photo in hysterical sequence.

You're 3 babies who've grown now to 5. (oh...and your grandson who you sometimes think is "your baby" loves you too. ;)

My birthday.

It happened. I'm only 1 year away from 30 now. And that's all I have to say...about that. ;)


Jet's birthday.
Now that's important.

Oh my wow.
My boy is 4 - and he is as super as they come.

See. I told you.

His super-ness is rivaled only by the the most "super" birthday party our little guy could hope for.

I say it all the time - I never really pictured myself being a mom to a boy. And certainly not the kind of boy that those "100% Boy" t-shirts and "Snakes, snails and puppy dog tails" quotes are talking about. Perhaps a nice quiet boy who likes to read and play his gameboy calmly on the couch and listen to The Beatles and help around the house. Right...I thought I'd give birth to my brother.
Instead I gave birth to my husband incarnate.
A wild, uninhibited, blur of charisma and energy that both charms and overwhelms all who spend any amount of time with him. He's my shooting star.
 Beautiful. Amazing.
 I can't stop marveling at it - admiring it's speed and unpredictability - and yet it's moving so fast. Too quickly for me to really understand where it's going or where it might land.
But I watch it anyway.

Feeling blessed to catch this glimpse of something so rare.
Feeling excited at it's potential for greatness.
Feeling scared at times that I might lose track of it completely.
Knowing I cannot really control it. Not truly.
But trusting the One who created this star knows exactly where it will land, and what purpose He has given it.

And no star shown brighter than my kid's face than when he showed up to his birthday party.

A surprise visitor... 

(I adore this.)

If he knew it was really Daddy he never let on. Not even the fact that Spiderman talked and walked and had tennis shoes just like Daddy through him off. Jet was blissfully believing the dream.

Our little hero - surrounded by his super-peeps.

It is clear - life will be fabulous being 4!

(Thank you Royal Cookie Designs! These custom-made cookies were delicious and absolutely adorable!)

The day was perfection.

Absolute perfection.


Which we decided to continue into June as we headed out to the super-est place on earth!


The land that flows with cinnamon and honey toast. 
(inside joke folks...don't try it.)
And the home of Claire, Leah, Chewy and Gumbo.

(who also happen to be super heros...)

Jet made himself right at home. It's pretty easy to do.

And everywhere we went, was the happiest place on earth.

 The Pier at Huntington Beach

Seal Beach

Our days spent with family was even more enriched by some very special time with friends so close they have become our chosen family.

This group of mommies and kiddos represent one of the biggest pieces of my heart. 
The piece of my heart that holds a treasure so precious and and pivotal to my being - yet it's a treasure I didn't search for at all. 
In fact I didn't even want it. 
At first.

It's a treasure so fragile I nurture it daily, and yet strong enough to survive even the most devastating of events.
A treasure so rare - yet more common than the world care to see.
A treasure so beautiful, so powerful, so ambiguous that it can never be found - it must find you. Yet it is  so mysterious, so complex, so rare that often those who are given the chance to have it - turn it away. 
Ignorant of what it is they are really looking at. 
And it's true - it can be hard to understand what you hold in your hands when you first have it.
Acquiring this treasure is not usually planned, and is rarely brought about by one's own purposeful doing - in fact...it is seemingly given at random to a certain few who often share no commonality other than the fact that they were offered this treasure...and chose to hold onto it.
Such as these...

The treasure is that of having a child with special needs. In our case, and in the case of many of these families, these needs stem from two words:
 "Spina Bifida"

(Remember beautiful Polina?! What a miracle this girl is. Such a joy to finally meet her! Read more here.)

It is here - in my heart - that I keep this treasure. And with it - these families. Some of them we have known for years - others mere months. It doesn't matter when we began our journey or how different our paths have been. Our hearts have this same piece. And that piece alone brings us together in a way I can't even explain. But I am grateful.
I am blessed.

To not only be keeper of the power and beauty of my own treasure...but to witness the glorious treasures of others. 

(Seriously 2 of the coolest kids on the planet (and there are 3 more where that came from!). Jet's new big brothers. To say he adored them is an understatement. I miss them as much as he does. )

To see the similarities and differences and enjoy how our treasures complement each other side by side. To see that no matter the shape or size or makeup of each jewel, the way they sparkle and shine when placed in the sunlight... is just the same.

And let me tell you.
It's breathtaking.

And when there are treasures to be had. Even the most special things are made even specia-ler.

Even the "Happiest Place On Earth" was extra happy this year.

Disneyland & California Adventure

(sharing my prince charming)

And no doubt 2 reasons for the extra happiness. Love these girls.
(the princess and the mouse are ok too.)

 (yep. somehow he can still pout at the happiest place on earth.)

(the most sunshiny couple ever. so happy they came with us! love you uncle nate & aunt kelly!)

'ello Bert! 

We wasted no time meeting all the characters! The boy was OB-SESSED!

We even had to chase a few down.

Disneyland's a serious commitment folks. It's not for the timid or faint-hearted. 
You gotta get in there and 
(You mean the same ones you were terrified of a year ago? Yes. Those. And more.)

(you're kidding me right? Who are you and what did you do with my kid??)

The kid was unstoppable. 
Princesess - check. 
Mice - check. 
Chipmunks - double check.
He saw so many characters he started thinking up characters he hadn't seen yet and requesting we FIND them for him. HA! 
Of course. We did. lol.

Such a ladies man. ;)


 Peter Pan was a serious effort. Daddy and cousins Claire and Leah went all "mission impossible" and were cornering and questioning disney employees about the whereabouts of this flighty fellow. For hours. Then finally...

The best feeling ever. And I didn't have to do anything. lol. Thanks guys!

And don't think for a second us "big kids" didn't have just as much fun. 

(the "out-laws")

Ok maybe a little too much fun. When Daddy wanted the Incredibles to sign his shirt and they said they couldn't sign clothing "while you were wearing it."

So guess who needed to borrow my sweatshirt...

It was an awesome 2 day adventure. Jet even enjoyed the shows!

And the hubby and I got a special Disney-date night all to ourselves...

...And a billion other people...

It was so romantic. 
Fireworks and loud music. 
Screaming toddlers, sticky benches and and the smell of cotton candy.
We just had to make-out in the street.
There was nothing we could do to fight it.
We were victims of circumstance.

We'd still be there but we finally got a selfie that wasn't too blurry. So we left. 
Thank goodness for the iphone. ;)

The next big trip we decided to play it safer.
So we headed out to San Diego to mingle with wild animals.

There they are!
Oh and we saw some pretty cool zoo animals too.

The San Diego Zoo

The boy didn't like it one bit. ;)

Yep. Jet and cousin Arwen were pretty much bored the whole time.

I'm pretty sure I could see actual wheels turning through those liquid eyes.

Fearless cousins. Taming the zoo one giant stone animal at a time.
Which of course is a lot of work. 
So before long we headed back to Arwen's place for a rest and some food.
And by a rest I mean a trip to the park and some great practice in sharing toys and quality cousin time. 

And by food I mean some delicious dinner!

 (not pictured - some yummy stuffed peppers for us grown ups - because I was hungry and forgot to take a picture.)

Thanks so much to Aunt Cheri and Uncle Dan for such a great day! 

And the great days just kept comin...

I don't even know how to explain what this trip was for me. California is my happy place. It really has always been. It kinda runs in the family. Ask any sibling, cousin, aunt of mine and most likely - they feel the same way. I used to look forward to family trips out there for months growing up. And as luck would have it, I married a guy who would relocate there in the blink of an eye if we could - he loves it that much too! We can't visit enough. After having Jet and meeting some new and amazing families whom we now love  - it just adds to our affection for this place. 
It's sunshine to my heart.
 So no - we're not moving Georgia peeps. No need to panic. ;) We have family and friends and purpose here that we are learning, loving and are growing stronger in. But I can say without hesitation that we are already planning our next trip out there. For a million reasons that all add up to one simple feeling - california-appiness.

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