Friday, May 6, 2016

Home Two years

This will be the last post on this blog. I have ideas for other blogs, but with all the changes in life, I am ready to put an end to this blog. I wanted to do one last update on our Bozhi. There have been so many people that have supported him on his journey and us. So I thought we would do one last post.  

(Pictures from first visit trip)

Most of this post is the same as last year with some updates....Two years ago, on May 7th, 2014, my mom and I were in Eastern Europe picking up a little boy from an orphanage. The responsibility of that was not lost on me. When we traveled five months earlier to meet this little boy, we cried, terrified that we would never be able to meet his needs, they were just too great. But our hearts also knew that he would probably die. He was starving. I have heard many people say we probably saved his life. There was nothing heroic about it though. We just knew we could not stand before our God one day and say we left him there to die. It was more fear than any heroism. When we got there in November it was just a lot of overwhelming, because he was a shell of a person. He sat and stared at his fingers, he rocked and did what we asked, but very unwillingly. We spent about four hours each day just there with him, holding his hand, feeding him a banana, and waiting for the hours to end because it was hard. I hated that it was hard. I hated that I was scared and overwhelmed. But we just knew we had to bring him home. We were told he was fed five meals a day and on medication for an overactive thyroid, that they did everything to make him gain weight, but because he was disabled, he could not gain weight. So, we wondered if it was true, questioned it, but also knew if it was true he at least deserved a family to love him while he lived, because surely no one can live long at twenty pounds. So in faith and fear we stepped forward.

Five months later I went back with my mom. It was in the middle of one of the biggest trials of my life. It seemed in the months and weeks leading up to our pick up trip that we were going to face every obstacle possible. And two years later it has not ended. Sometimes I wonder if it has been a mixed blessing. Because the difficult things that come with adoption have paled in comparison to the rest of my life.

BUT, that day, two years ago, I walked into that orphanage and wondered if he would remember me, his mom. I had told him I would come back. He did not recognize me. But then they told him, "It's your mom, she came to bring you home." His tears stopped. He looked around the room. He climbed off my lap. He went to my backpack, he looked at me, he signed, "more." He remembered me. Every day we came in November we brought a little food, and we taught him the sign for "more." He remembered me and the sign and the backpack and that I brought food! And hope filled me. That empty shell, held a little boy holding on to hope.  This picture on the right shows him after he signed more and I was giving him his banana. I asked if I could, they said, you are his mom, you can give him what you want. It was so hard to comprehend, the responsibility of taking care of this fragile little boy.  It was a lot for me to wrap my head around.

And this is a picture of him the day after we picked him up. I hated this picture, I did not even want to take it because he was just. too. small. But I wanted to remember. He weighed twenty pounds. I believe a lot of that was in his head. I cried when I saw him like this, how can someone be seven years old and weigh twenty pounds, how do you survive. But he did, he survived

This is a picture of my mom and I leaving the orphanage with Bozhi!

and trying Starbucks for the first time!


These pictures are from the first days home...




And now he is THRIVING! It has been two years. He now weighs fifty five pounds. He has gained thirty five pounds in two years year. He has grown eight inches. I had to rubber band eighteen month clothes around his waist, now he fits in size 5 pants and 7 shirts. He is actually chubby. He has learned some sign language. He says words like, "Hi" "Bye" "Ok" "Hot" "No" "Yes" He can say mama but does not say it very often. We work on every letter of the alphabet and he can say close to all of them with some work. He signs for "help" and "thank you" and "more" and "all done." He makes the sound "W" when he sees a dog or wants to go to speech therapy where he works on his letters. He is working on identifying letters and writing some of his letters. When he wants to go somewhere he makes the sound of a car. He is about one of the smartest kids I know. He has learned to scooter. He is potty trained completely. He makes HUGE messes and tries to help clean up. He eats a lot. He laughs and cries. He gets angry and likes to joke around. One of his favorite things in the world is church. He loves going to church. He prays and sings. His favorite T.V. show is still "Good Eats." He still says "UGGHH" when I ask him to do something he does not want to do. One of my favorite things is that he remembers our family trip to the cabin every year. Our first year we went when he had been home just six weeks. Now when he sees a picture of himself at the cabin he jumps up and down and squeals. It is part of his life.  He hates to be left out. He always wants to be with his family. He amazes me and makes me want to pull out my hair almost every day. It is amazing the change of two years!
He likes to play "flute" with his sister...

And he gave himself a haircut...


You probably would not even know he was the same kid, the shell of a boy we met in November of 2013, the little boy I met last year who only wanted to eat and sleep. He now hugs and kisses me, tells me "no." and acts like most of my other children. We have a long ways to go. And there is a lot of hard, but he has come a long, long way. And we are so thankful he is our son! 
When we were waiting for him, before ever meeting him, I had a dream about him at 15 years old. He was sitting at our kitchen counter laughing and smiling about something. There are glimpses of that young man now in the Bozhi that I know today! 
I tell him every day how happy I am I get to be his mommy and how happy I am that he is my son! He is a blessing!
The picture below was taken by my friend Mary Cook just a few weeks ago at church preparing for Pascha!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Its been quite a day....

It may seem obvious to some, but it just needs to be said. And today more than any other days, I am so very aware! I am not perfect.

A year and a half ago, right after we brought Bozhidar home, in the middle of life falling apart as I have written so often, someone said to me, "If I had known you all were not perfect I would never have given you the money for your adoption." The thoughts that ran through my head included: First who says that to someone. Second, how dare someone say my family is not perfect. Third, of course I am not perfect! How did you think I was perfect. In time when hurt was so deep we were told we just were not good enough.

And that thought, those words as true as they are plague me so often. Especially on days like today where I think how on earth do I get to be a mom, I am SO FAR FROM PERFECT. I am a perfectionist and it is a huge struggle of mine to deal with the fact that every day I fail.

So in case somewhere in  the middle of Facebook posts or blog updates, you all got the impression that I or my family are perfect I have to just say it, I am not. We are not.

This morning is when it came to a catastrophe. But the past month has probably been building up. Actually probably the past few months. I have had to go back to work part-time. I am waiting tables. It is the most unglamorous job in the world. It is physically exhausting. I work anywhere from 25-35 hours a week, on my feet, serving people. I could have a career.  At least I tell myself that, but for now I really value being home. SO, I work nights and weekends and a couple days each week so I can still homeschool and spend time with my kids. The past month Nathan had to be gone for three weeks. My mom and my sister visited and helped many days, and my  kids stepped up and helped. But it was exhausting. I had people tell me how amazing I was and I wore it with honor as bitterness and exhaustion grew in my heart. I did not want to ask for help or say I could not do it. While he was away, the kitchen flooded several times, the sink stopped draining, the basement room filled with water. I think my landlord dreaded seeing my name on his phone. And I wore it again with pride that I could do it, I could handle it. I did not bear it with meekness, but pride. And anger grew and welled up...anger at the unfairness of life.

Nathan came home a week ago and I have just fallen apart as the days have gone on. All that anger finally falling in its messy way over my family. Saturday was a beautiful day, so I decided to go for a run. Then I worked from 4 until midnight. I got home hungry and wired and at 3 a.m. I was still awake and finally drank some tea to try to sleep. I finally fell asleep and then I woke up a few hours later, went to church and work again until 10 p.m. I got home and ate and fell asleep around midnight which is a relative term as my son came in with leg pain, then Bozhi who is mostly potty trained now...wet the bed and he needed help getting changed and then Verity came wandering in afraid and she started to scream as I asked her to please go back to her bed. And through her little tears she explained how just so afraid she was. So I gave up my place in my bed, now more kids then adults in my bed and went to the couch where I lay shivering and angry. I finally got up and went to make Karis move over and give me some of her blanket, it was 5 in the morning.  Two hours later I rolled out of bed to start homeschooling before having to take Bozhi to therapy. Today we were supposed to have our house blessed. Our house is a mess. I needed there at least to be a path to walk through for the blessing. So I asked the kids to help while we were at therapy. And I was so aware that my heart needed so much more cleaning then my house before any blessing could take place. So I asked Nathan to postpone it. He did.

Bozhidar and I got back from therapy and he went downstairs to help the kids clean. I still wanted a path, at least to the washing machine. I was going to make lunch or take a nap, it was still a toss up. When the screams began. We heard the thump and screams, and the, BOZHI!!! MOM! THERE IS SO MUCH BLOOD! And thankfully Nathan was there because I sat with my head between my legs as he dealt with this little boy who had fallen down the last three stairs and cracked his head wide open. David held the paper towels as Nathan wrapped his head and the girls mopped up blood and I sat with my head between my legs, hoping I wont pass out or throw up, I was an utter failure. David and Nathan brought him to the hospital. He had scans done and stitches and glue. He will be fine. But I felt like the biggest failure. And there are plenty of people that can tell me, I should not let him walk down the stairs, or I need something at the bottom and all the things I could do to prevent it. And believe me I have said it over and over. I failed. Maybe I could have prevented it, I wish I had.

And I am ever so aware that I am not perfect. I will fail every day. Hopefully not as bad as today every day. But I will fail. The thoughts that went through my head today include that I should probably have never adopted a child, let alone had one or FIVE! The voice of the man who said he would never have given us the money to help plays in my head, I am not good enough.

This day does not end with a great happy ending. But it did end with chocolate and kids on the couch watching a movie and the hope of a new day. I am aware that I will fail again tomorrow. That I am not perfect. I am a sinner, working out my salvation in my messy world.

And, in the middle of it all, I do know I am blessed.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Nathan!

Today is one of my favorite people in the world's birthdays. I am thankful to celebrate the amazing person that he is. Thirteen years ago, we came home from the hospital, on his birthday. It was my present to him, his first baby girl, and I have never been able to top it.

Each year though, I have fallen more in love with this man! He is amazing and funny and smart!  A few years ago I wrote a post telling him 35 things I love about him, I just keep adding to it, now we are at 38.

It seems like every year I say it, "This year has been crazy and life even crazier, but there is no one I would rather spend my crazy life with than you, Nathan Jacobs!"

Sometimes I hold my breath, trying to change the rhythm. Breathing on cue; I panic because suddenly, it does not work like it is supposed to. I feel like I am drowning and I can not breathe. Or, I stop blinking and then try to start and it is hard to see because every blink is an effort, and I wonder maybe this is what my life will be like forever, the effort of breathing and blinking. But then in the middle of all my work I realize I am doing it on my own again. This is not a habit or something I learned. It is part of who I am. I am alive; breathing, blinking alive. And somehow or time or where that is what happened to my heart, with you.

If I tried to stop loving you, to start a different rhythm, it would feel awful. Because my heart is not in the habit of loving you. My love for you has become a part of who I am. My love for you is just like breathing and blinking, it is part my living. The kind of love that when things go wrong, I start to panic, because my heart is off. I work to make it right, I try to make my heart beat right. But then, I realize in the midst that my heart is right back to where it is supposed to be. It knows you so completely, the rhythm of you. The past two years have shown this truer than I could have imagined when I wrote this three years ago.

Today I get to celebrate YOU, my love. Your day! Today I get to celebrate what an amazing man I love with all my heart.

In honor of 38 years of life, here are thirty eight things I love about you!

I LOVE
1.That for twenty one days you officially get to be older than me.

I LOVE
2. Your laugh

I LOVE
3. Your smile

AND I LOVE....
4. That you always put our family first.
5. You care about the hearts of our children
6. Your eyes
7. That you can make up something to eat in the kitchen from WHATEVER is available...
8. and that you always let the kids help
9. That you work hard
10. Watching you paint
11. Watching you hold our children for the first time.
12. Watching you hold our children as they have grown.
13. Going for walks with you
14. Going on adventures with you
15. When you make up stories
16. That you always stop for people on the side of the road
17. You do not get mad when I call you just because I need to
18. That you hate to fight as much as I do
19. That you support most of my crazy plans
20. That you go camping with me even though you hate it...
21. That when I realize camping is not as much fun as an adult and whine a lot you still go camping with me again in case it is going to get better.
22. Your heart
23. Your passion for what you believe
24. Your willingness to admit when you are wrong and say sorry
25. Holding your hand
26. Seeing you live your dreams
27. Sharing our dreams with each other
28. That you cry when you think about our kids growing  up
29. Laughing with you
30. Kissing you
31. That I can trust you completely.
32. Playing Ticket to Ride with you....
33. That you understand that I cry when I lose at Ticket to Ride or any game for that matter
34. Your faith
35. Your mind
36. That our hearts break for the very same thing.
37.  That you do not give up
38.  That you fight for things worth fighting for.

I love you and Happy Birthday Nathan!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

She is 13!!!

I have no idea how this happened, but somehow it did, today, she is thirteen.  Suddenly now I am the mom of a teenager. I do not feel old enough to have a teenager. But I also cannot remember what my life was like before I was her mom.

And I have cried many tears the past weeks, remembering holding my sweet girl in my arms. I used to dance around the living room singing softly in her ear, "Dance with me Anastasia Grace and we will go to a faraway place! Oh dance with me Anastasia Grace."  I was so in love, I did not know what to do with myself. I remember someone telling me how much she looked forward to family gatherings when her littles were little, because there were so many arms to hold her babies. And I could not imagine ever wanting anyone to ever hold my girl besides me. My arms were made to be a mother, her mother.

The memories are great, moving to Oregon with my little sweet one month old, to start a grand adventure, that fell apart just months later. She has lived through jobs and job loss, moves and no where to call home, school and more school, and still more moves and even more moves, new friends and friends that moved away. And moving away from friends she cherished. She has handled all that life has brought with such grace, joy and wisdom.

And panic grips me because I want to hold so tight to her. I have not protected her enough. And have I even given her wings to fly? How do I do this? This parenting thing. How do I keep her safe and make her ready?

I love her so much.

She is growing up.

And I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming. She is beautiful and funny, kind and compassionate. She is brave. She has more courage and determination than anyone that I know. She faces her fears head on, and she knows what she wants.

She makes friends wherever she goes, but knows who she is.

I love her more each day.





Happy 13th Birthday my Anastasia Grace!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Birthday Verity!

Tomorrow, my little Verity turns 5!

It seems like we always travel on her birthday, and this year is no different, so she gets the joy of  driving for hours, but it is tradition and she gets to see family.  We try to make it as exciting as possible. We also usually get milkshakes and sing to her in the car.


Four has suited her beautifully. It is hard to imagine the little girl that used to scream for hours at the top of her lungs, could turn into one of the most joyful children in the world. Her stubbornness and spunk drove me close to insanity. I remember dreading giving her a time out, because I knew once it started it would last a minimum of an hour, often up to two. Two hours of screaming and fighting. She wore me out. But she loved just as sweetly. She would listen to me sing or read just one more song or one more book every night.

And then four came and she suddenly became her own person. With some self-control and independence. She is one of my favorite people in the world to spend time with. She is smart and funny and beautiful.

Yesterday she went to the store with me. I told her what we needed. She sat in her seat and said it a few times, then said, "Okay mom, I got it now, I remember everything on our list." And she did, I got three of the four items and asked her if we had it all, she said, "no, we forgot one thing!" And she was right, but it was at a different store :)

She has excelled at gymnastics this year and in her class, they said she acts like a little grown

With all her spunk and craziness she has given me many wonderful memories. Here are a few of my favorites:

Anya asked her if she could just go to bed quiet and easy, her response, "No, because that is just not how my life goes!"


She picks to watch Transformers and Super Hero shows just because she loves her brother David so much and wants to spend time with him.

She and David have a special bond, they have made up a special handshake and today he made her a birthday card that said, "Happy Birthday Verity! I am so happy you are my sister!"


One day at rest time I overheard her giving David "options," "David, these are your options," she said, "You can smell my feet, smell my underwear or smell my socks." David, "I do not like ANY of those options!" Verity, "Well, those are your only options. Pick one."

She uses scare quotes appropriately and frequently refers to Bozhi as her "little" brother. They play together and fight just as well.

She loves to draw and play and swim. She talks more than anyone I know. She has ideas about everything.

I love her and cannot wait to see what five brings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A few thoughts on the past year…

I have said all too cryptically over the past month and year how hard life has been. And I guess I still have to just stay there in the abstract. But, there have been moments when I wanted to shout it, in all its ugliness, I have wanted to point fingers and hurt others because I am hurt. And one of the hard and sad things I learned is that “hurt people, hurt people.” I have wanted to somehow make things better by making things worse for others hoping somehow it would make me feel better. But over months and weeks and days, a lot of that has started to change. And I have looked back on the year.

I wrote my last post on my little boy, it has been a year, and he has come a long way! And honestly, I think we all have.

So here are ten things I have learned this year…some I have been learning for quite a while, but they have really struck home this year.

      1. To remember the good. I heard it on the radio a few months ago. It was this woman talking about when her husband did something that upset her, like coming home from work late, before she reacted she remembered all the good things he had done. She was keeping a record, but of the good things, not the bad, so when it came time to react she stopped and gave grace. I want to keep record of those in my life, to remember the good, to not stop at the mistakes, and to be kind.
   
     2.   I have learned that what my mom and all moms always say is true, “If you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.” I rarely have walked away from a conversation wishing I had said more, but frequently walked away wishing I had said so much less. I still sometimes write apologies to those I have said too much to, but am doing it a little less as the year moves on.
    
     3.    There is no one way to be a perfect mom. As soon as I have figured it all out, I have to see I do not have anything really figured out and every day is a day to learn something new or try it another way because it just is not working the way I thought it should or it did last time.
    
      4.     I have learned that forgiveness is something you might have to wake up and do every. single. day. And sometimes that is discouraging, but it is worth it. And it gets easier with time.

      5.      I have learned that love is a choice, not every day, but some days, and that joy is a choice, not every day, but some days.

      6.      I have learned that being angry is okay. It does not mean the world will fall apart. And in a more scientific way, until I actually say I am angry and deal with it and grief, I will never be okay.
     
      7.   Nothing is certain. After three job losses that were supposed to be permanent, or I hoped for permanent over the past years. Cancer diagnosis. Moves around the country. And family members that are really sick. I have learned that life is full of uncertainty, and have been reminded that this world is only temporary.

     8.      I read a book this year, The Scent of Holiness, by Constantina Palmer. I learned a lot from it, but one that has stuck with me in these moments, when I want to hear what is happening, to hear gossip, to hear something that takes my mind off me and focuses on how someone else is hurting, it is SO not helpful. And usually all it causes is more hurt and anger. I am learning to wait in those moments, to just wait.

     9.      And I learned I need to listen. I learned that I err on the side of busy and getting done instead of listening. It is often in the second try that I figure it out. But there are hearts and little voices worth hearing, so much more than bathrooms that need cleaning, or emails that need checking.

     10.  I learned what friendship looks like. And unfortunately what it does not look like. But thankfully, there are amazing people in the world who love selflessly and with such compassion. I have been blessed by some of these amazing people who are okay with messy and crying, and who still make me laugh and want the best for me. I want to be like them.


I still have a lot of learning to do and there is a long journey ahead, but I hold onto hope that even in this year, we are being refined and that we will be okay. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Home One Year... You have come a long way baby!

One year ago, on May 7th, 2014, my mom and I were in Eastern Europe picking up a little boy from an orphanage. The responsibility of that was not lost on me. When we traveled five months earlier to meet this little boy, we cried, terrified that we would never be able to meet his needs, they were just too great. But our hearts also knew that he would probably die. He was starving. I have heard many people say we probably saved his life. There was nothing heroic about it though. We just knew we could not stand before our God one day and say we left him there to die. It was more fear than any heroism. When we got there in November it was just a lot of overwhelming, because he was a shell of a person. He sat and stared at his fingers, he rocked and did what we asked, but very unwillingly. We spent about four hours each day just there with him, holding his hand, feeding him a banana, and waiting for the hours to end because it was hard. I hated that it was hard. I hated that I was scared and overwhelmed. But we just knew we had to bring him home. We were told he was fed five meals a day and on medication for an overactive thyroid, that they did everything to make him gain weight, but because he was disabled, he could not gain weight. So, we wondered if it was true, questioned it, but also knew if it was true he at least deserved a family to love him while he lived, because surely no one can live long at twenty pounds. So in faith and fear we stepped forward.



Five months later I went back with my mom. It was in the middle of one of the biggest trials of my life. It seemed in the months and weeks leading up to our pick up trip that we were going to face every obstacle possible. And a year later it has not ended. Sometimes I wonder if it has been a mixed blessing. Because the difficult things that come with adoption have paled in comparison to the rest of my life.

BUT, that day,one year ago, I walked into that orphanage and wondered if he would remember me, his mom. I had told him I would come back. He did not recognize me. But then they told him, "It's your mom, she came to bring you home." His tears stopped. He looked around the room. He climbed off my lap. He went to my backpack, he looked at me, he signed, "more." He remembered me. Every day we came in November we brought a little food, and we taught him the sign for "more." He remembered me and the sign and he backpack and that I brought food! And hope filled me. That empty shell, held a little boy holding on to hope.  This picture shows him right after he signed more and I was giving him his banana. I asked if I could, they said, you are his mom, you can give him what you want. It was so hard to comprehend, the responsibility of taking care of this fragile little boy.  It was a lot for me to wrap my head around.


This is a picture of us leaving the orphanage...

And this is a picture of him the day after we picked him up. I hated this picture, I did not even want to take it because he was just. too. small. But I wanted to remember. He weighed twenty pounds. I believe a lot of that was in his head. I cried when I saw him like this, how can someone be seven years old and weigh twenty pounds, how do you survive. But he did, he survived. 


And now he is THRIVING! It has been one year. He now weighs forty six pounds. He has gained twenty six pounds in one year. He has grown six inches. I had to rubber band eighteen month clothes around his waist, now he fits in size 4T. He is actually a little bit chubby. He has learned some sign language. He is working on talking. He can say mama. We have worked so long for that. He makes many more letter sounds and says, "Ok" "Hi" "Hot" "WOW" and many more "words" that we think we hear. He understands and follows directions. He makes HUGE messes and tries to help clean up. He eats a lot. He laughs and cries. He gets angry and likes to joke around. Just today he chased his four year old sister to tickle her and then hugged her. He is learning to play. He pretends to do school and asks for help on his "lessons." One of his favorite things in the world is church. He loves going to church. His favorite T.V. show is "Good Eats." He says "UGGHH" when I ask him to do something he does not want to do, or covers his ears and says, "NANANANA" so he does not have to hear me. He is working on potty training, and loves to say, "thank you." and give me five when he does something right. He loves to sing, and often "sings" along to songs that are familiar. And when he hears a song he knows he gets really excited! He has opinions about what he wears and his shoes, he loves to wear moon boots even in the heat, I think because they are easy to put on. Whenever he leaves without his brother and sisters, he makes sure to give everyone a hug and kiss goodbye. He hates to be left out. He always wants to be with his family. We are still learning how to be a family, what that looks like. He amazes me and makes me want to pull out my hair almost every day. It is amazing the change of one year!

These were taken just days after coming home...





Home two months...




Home 6 months.....



Home 9 months....





Home 1 Year....



You probably would not even know he was the same kid, the shell of a boy we met in November of 2013, the little boy I met last year who only wanted to eat and sleep. He now hugs and kisses me, tells me "no." and acts like most of my other children. We have a long ways to go. And there is a lot of hard, but he has come a long, long way. And we are so thankful he is our son! 

When we were waiting for him, before ever meeting him, I had a dream about him at 15 years old. He was sitting at our kitchen counter laughing and smiling about something. There are glimpses of that young man now in the Bozhi that I know today! 

I tell him every day how happy I am I get to be his mommy and how happy I am that he is my son! He is a blessing!