Girl Feast: the Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation!

I saw this in the Uffizi, one of my fav's

That means that today we celebrate and remember when Mary went to her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with the soon to be born John the Baptist. I love this image, I love this whole concept.  It’s one of my favorite mysteries of the rosary….and I’ve wondered why it speaks to me so.  But I think, really, it’s that whole connection thing, once again.

The connections that we make, especially we women, are so important.  They mean everything, in a way.  It took me a long time to get there, way past the awkward high school years and the striving driven, boyfriend focused, college years.  But as I’ve grown older and into the woman I am now in middle age and hopefully was meant to be (mostly), I have grown also into some of the richest relationships: friendships with women.  My girl friends are such a support; even the virtual ones through email, phones, and blogging…the support gained and given through these friendships with other women give me such strength.  They have pulled me out of deepest indigo blues, they have encouraged me forward in burnout and despair, they have brainstormed with me in mom dilemmas, they have brightened days with a good laugh.  They have called me out from my selfishness, they have told me when the swimsuit is just too tired and for pity’s sake go buy a new one.  They have listened to me vent and cry and rage and brag; saved my marriage a few times and my child’s backside as well.  They are generous, genious, kind, caring, prayerful gals…..and I hope and pray I have returned the favor more than once and can continue to.  In person, blog, email or phone, it all counts.

I think that is why I love this feast so.  Mary did it first.  She found out she was with child, and in her first trimester she journeyed to her cousin.  Now, we all know what that first trimester is like: such exhaustion, illness, hunger, sleepy fatigue. And Mary set out on a long journey to be with her dear friend, her cousin.  She didn’t get to hop in her comfy BMW, she had to walk or use the donkey.  I would’a griped about traveling in my comfy Honda (oh, right I think I did, way back when I was in first trimester’s.  oops).  But she went.  She went to help, not to get her own comfort, but to help.  Because Elizabeth was older and was in the end (third trimester?) of her pregnancy.  We all know what that’s like too: exhausted, feeling big as a whale, swollen, uncomfortable, maybe a tad irritable, just…done.  So, Mary went to help.  And they embraced when they met, like friends/family who miss each other do.  And Elizabeth blurted out “Who am I that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  She didn’t say, “Mary! Wow, what a surprise, what are you doing here?” and start fretting about if she had enough kefir or whatever to add to lunch or if the house was clean.  No, she instantly felt the baby flip around and she had those words out, I suspect, before she even really understood them, fully.  That’s how it works, I think. It’s all grace.  This feast is all about the grace and we see it in that painting, up there, one of my favorites.

Our friendships, the support we women give each other is unlike anything else.  And it is all grace. It really is, when it’s good.  We can  undermine each other like nobody’s business if we choose.  But when we choose to give, it’s like nothing else….except, like Mary..and Elizabeth.  And that, just that, is why I love this feast day.  It’s a feast about connections and grace and giving.  It’s a girl feast.  Because we rock and we do this better than anyone; when we open ourselves to this grace. Mary and Elizabeth did, so long ago.  They show us the way, even now.


So, last weekend we went up to ND to watch my eldest son, Buddybug,  graduate from college.

My big boys: Jon my now ND sophmore & Chris, our graduate

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as they say….

Because, that’s how it plays when you travel long road hours with cars stuffed full of family. That’s how it plays when you have a relatively rigorous event schedule and many different ages and stages along for the ride.  That’s how you start rethinking strategy for next time and consider the benefits of babysitters for smalls…..but I’m getting ahead of myself.  So much.  This past weekend was so much.  I can only do the bullets, I can’t be eloquent or profound or witty…it’s all a flashing jumble, it’s own mental slideshow with quick cut editing. And the only way I’ll ever remember the details of it is to kinda chronicle it here.  Fair warning, this is my scrapbook edition post.

Thus, in no particular order, may I present: Graduation 2011.

  • predawn packing of the car with sleepy cranky children
  • twelve year old wakes up feeling sick.  Perfect timing, of course.
  • wild seven year old Little Man hurtling, hollering, down the driveway…because that’s just what he does sometimes, and before we can catch him.
  • cranky teen daughter yelling about obnoxious brother
  • angry neighbor, woken by sibling drama under his window.  Because we like to start our crazy weekend road trips with a bang…
  • Mortification by parental types, ok, me
  • hitting the road, little man still so wild he has to change cars even before we get on the main road; meaning, outta mine & into dad’s, Plan B
  • settling into a long day o’ driving, two cars, separated oil/water unmixable sibs, pandora on the radio
  • settle into house rental, quick change, meet graduate to hug and eat

Waiting outside DeBartolo Auditorium for the music department concert, a tired bunch

  • Zip over to music department concert
  • More wildness from the smalls as ever optimistic dad puts us dead center in auditorium
  • Mom panics quietly but not graciously
  • Mom wrestles (as discreetly as possible) small boys, stuck in the row, whispering cosmic “I”m sorry’s” to all the other parents in the auditorium…for the duration of the program
  • The music was amazing, such talented graduates
  • Chris’s Chopin piece, as ever, is amazing….
  • I can say that as the mom
  • But it’s totally true

Playing Chopin, beautiful

  • His hands move so fast it’s almost blurry
  • Where did that kid come from anyhow?
  • Car dead bright and early Saturday morning.  Perfect.
  • Plan C, swapping cars
  • Saturday department luncheon outside on a perfect day
  • Thanking the professors, meeting friends
  • Dutifully tripping while carrying plates, because I’m just graceful like that (saved them tho!)

Horsing around w/ Marta

  • Quick, needed, confession before Mass, fast walking through rain with my girls to arena to make Mass in time
  • The Baccalaureate Mass is just lovely, even though it’s in the basketball arena and we are in the tippy top seats, I don’t care. It’s lovely.

    Waiting for the Baccalaureate Mass

  • The small boys are good! It’s a miracle!
  • I blink back the tears at the Alma Mater, knowing I have tomorrow’s commencement to get through too.
  • Pick a day, pick a day to cry . Blink. Blink.
  • Dinner, all fancy and a risky but successful endeavor with a family of one of Chris’ closest buddies
  • sheer exhaustion by all, living on the edge of the knife…..

Trying to get boys to rest in afternoon, gearing up for long night

  • Me and Hannah sick overnight, perfect
  • Sunday morning, the big day, my son is graduating, neither his dad and I can quite believe it and yet, here we are.
  • Swift triage with tired sick kids on Sunday, another one down (Little Man, not so wild now) delegating babysitting after all and revamping logistics…Plan D
  • Football stadium is sunny, not a cloud in the sky despite dire predictions – yay!
Yeh, it was sunny, hot and great up at the top of the stadium
  • hot sun, high seats, still a great view of a field of grads
  • A perfect morning, special ordered it seemed
  • It’s done.  My son is a graduate.
  • It’s all perfect.
  • Post morning gig: quick swap of babysitters and venue for diplomas, time for a picture and hug of my graduate, when did he get SO tall?

  • Saving seats in basketball arena again for the afternoon segment of festivities
  • graduates process in, happy, lighthearted, grinning waving like Olympians, fun to watch
  • girls arrive just in time with dad and grandpa, we settle in to listen to 800 graduates names be read
  • My tall son walks across the stage, no trip, no falter, only a calm happy smile.  Perfect.
  • I holler, loud, because that’s my boy.
  • He stays and stands on stage at last with a few of his friends for the closing prayer.

My chris, third from left

  • Ahh, here they are, those tears, watching my boy
  • Annnnd the Alma Mater, and my boy linked arms with his friends, on the stage, stepping out of one part of his life, and into the new
  • I blinked, gulped and smiled bigger….because that’s my boy up there.
  • Pictures after, hugs, congratulations to friends and families
  • More pictures, more waiting
  • Marta meltdown in the parking lot, it’s all too much
  • Recovery, but not so deftly managed by mom, price will be paid, I swear I hear the bells tolling…..
  • Easy dinner at his choice; favorite local pizza place
  • exhausted bedtime, hard night of dealing with kids and fall-apart from all too much: time mood emotions changes no routines close quarters
  • Monday morning comes early, long day ahead
  • Marta very worried about car and finals Tuesday and long drive ahead
  • General post event crankiness abounding
  • Tom crawling  under car to whack the fuel tank, per mechanic’s advice to try to get car running
  • hours fiddling with car and stalling kids, antsy to go
  • Success! Hero. Car is idling and loaded, kids scramble in, we are off
  • Three blocks in, my car dies, I push it to right lane (a guy got out to help after a few mins, yay)
  • Lurched car to dealer, left for repair
  • teen girls needing to leave bags at dealer and cram in one car to go get the old volvo, ..what plan are we on, anyway?
  • more drama from teens, son is tired and sad from goodbyes, and we have to leave him too, plan D
  • drive home is fraught with storms and danger and hours of extra time
  • tense hard long scary driving
  • Home again.  Finally.  A new form of family, one with a young man, all done with his main block of schooling.  As parents, we have done our part in educating one kid, all the way through…how did that happen?

It was a wild weekend.  Even so, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Wild horses, wild boys, broken cars, sick kids couldn’t have kept us away.  And they didn’t. Because my first born son? He graduated from college, he ran the race and finished well.

Congratulations Buddybug.  We are SO proud of you.



Summer school brainstorming: special needs

All-righty then, it’s been a crashing busy week and I have so many posts and thoughts tumbling through my brain, but truly no time to sit and type them out.  But, fair warning, they are stewing….

So…in the meantime, I want to cast out a line and see what can be reeled in.I need some brainstorming help, because summer is upon us. Summer means swimming, sleeping in, boating, naps, wet beach towels, sunlight past seven, popsicles, books, movies, tomatoes, caprese salad, sleeping on the lake, cicadas, chores, afternoon booming downpours for ten minutes then done, t shirts, shorts, flip flops every day.

But summer also means I need to create multiple schedule and routine templates so my kids don’t drift into that mean-spirited snappy boredom of “not enough to do.”  Now, I’m already working on a few camps (only half day though) and we’ve plans for swimming daily if possible and I’m working up heftier chore/responsibilities etc.  But what has got me stumped a bit is the summer school work.  For most of my kids, they will have specific summer assignments sent home to prep for next fall’s classes; reading, maybe a paper.  And this isn’t the place where I want to debate all that practice, I could do a whole ‘nother post on it (but if  you must know, I used to hate all that summer work and now I think it’s great and good for them). 

But here is where I need help:  Marta.  She needs, must have, some summer school work.  Or she will lose ground. She has special needs and still her english level and vocabulary comprehension is very low.  Her reading is improving, which is great, maybe around first grade almost…though the comprehension of the english vocabulary she is reading isn’t there.  This all makes it a bit jumbly to figure out what will be a good, gentle, encouraging way to have her be able to some independent work this summer and also be challenged enough to make progress, overall and/or in her english.   Almost all of her homework from school had to be done with me sitting next to her, helping her through the phonics worksheets and such, she did better with the math.  I would hope to be able to have a combo of helping and also independent.  She is not a big reader, despite having a nook color to excite her and many many books, of all types, around the house.  The problem is finding books that are at her level that are not too “babyish.”  But the upshot is she must have schoolwork, daily, or she will lose ground.

I know, I was a homeschooler forever.  But I wasn’t a homeschooler of kids with cognitive disability and thus am a newbie in the resources area for that.  So, any of you teachers or mom’s with kids who learn differently or have different abilities /cognition….any ideas? Resources? What’s worked for you? I will be heading to Parent Teacher Store probably today, but I need a plan.  Marta {no, all of them, it’s true} function(s) happiest with a routine in place and so I need to get that summer work routine happening and figured out, now, so we can have some structure to the days.  It helps make the whole house happier, for all the kids and mom. So….

  • Resources for summer school work?
  • What’s worked great for you during summer?
  • What did you love for your kids who are working behind their age level?
  • What did you NOT love?
  • What do you think she might love or I might?
  • Where did you get it, make it, find it?
  • Any other tips?

It’s summer! I want to focus on relaxing some, reading, swimming, eating fresh berries and tomatoes from the farm stand or garden, some personal projects (painting, quilt?), hanging with my kids without the bored squabbling.  Is that too much to hope for? I think it should not be…, this is my fast friday beating of the bushes, virtually.  Little help?

Calling all techies: WordPress edition

Why, oh why, did I only take art and art history classes in college? Why didn’t someone make me take programming, even in basic? Ok, really, even that probably wouldn’t help me since I was in college in the age of the dinosaurs. I mean, one of my  first jobs after college was designing computer games: the art and the screens you saw and played on {Remember the Amiga? Atari? Plain old basic Apple? Yup}.  So, that should give you some idea of how old I am and also a teeny bit of cred in my tech ability department, right? Hmm, maybe.

That's really me, I dress up all nice like that, every time I post....

Ok, so, I’m fiddling and twiddling with the blog… and getting frustrated a bit.  And since I  have an insanely busy 4-5 days ahead and no time to blog, I’ll leave this here for a few days to see if I can troll for help.

This post is to throw out to the techno space a question or two, because I’m wasting waaaay too much time trying to figure it out: I have a coupla questions:

1. How do I save the theme/settings/look of my blog if I’m practicing w/ another theme setting so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time I try out a tweak? I know the whole “child theme” deal, but can’t really figure it out.

2. How do I get my blogroll to list the daily blogs I follow, with a small image and a blip on the most recent post – so that it’s more enticing than just a boring list?

3. And this is the biggie…how do I change the look of the “Comment” button at the bottom of a post? The current one is teeny tiny and my old eyes have a hard time seeing it and it’s my blog! And yes, I got the css upgrade so I could, conceivably, it it’s very simple, swap a code (But need precise directions).

Any help out there in wordpress land?? Hmmm.  Let’s see how friendly this new neighborhood really is…c’mon, I know you can lend a hand.  Thanks in advance!

Stitched together

See this quilt? Right there?  Well, it’s mine! Yup! And, out of a spirit of decorum I will not whoop, too loudly, so as not to make you all feel bad.

But, I want to say…it’s gorgeous, beautiful and wonderful.  You see, I won this quilt through the silent auction hosted by JC Marie for the Kololo School through the Tesfa Foundation.  I had little  hope of winning, after seeing how beautiful the quilt was…and yet, with the help of a good proxy bidder and friend, I did and now it is already well used in my room.

The artist is an adoptive mom herself, Andrea Fox, and let me say, this quilt is just lovely.  It’s fabrics were carefully selected and designed (by another adoptive mom of a Haitian child), it is colorful and charming, it is beautifully crafted, and the back is soft as butter in sky blue. Even the note she sent with it was made from handmade paper…loveliness abounding.

The quilt is wrapable art and it is just what the best quilts are all about: connections and community.  And that is just why I’m so smitten by it.  This quilt is a soft touchable connection for me and my kids to other families like ours, across the continent and even across the ocean.  We are sort of stitched together, even in this quilt, by our love for our kids and their home country and our love of books and yearning to get access to more books and schools for kids.

Some might scoff and say I make too much of this.  I disagree.  Those connections, those stitches, are so important for us moms, our families, and especially for our kids from afar.  All those stitches sew hearts and minds together in support of things that are bigger than our doddering, pottering or crashing days.  And when my cherished little Ethiopian boy pads into my room, snuffling and sleepy-eyed, I can wrap him up in this quilt and know that he is embraced not only by me, but, in a way, by so many other hearts….connected by stitches of caring for these, our children of the world.

For any brave souls , look for the tiny “comment” below.

Moving Day

Hello, hello!!

So, I think I’m moving into new digs here….my new bloggy home.  This is my testing of the space, and I might have to tweak and fuss with it all, so until I’m all settled, please be patient.

Much much to learn…guess I know what’s gonna eat up my free time this weekend. If you all have any tips or caveats, lemme know!! Thanks!

And please, please, once I get settled, could you update your links? Because I’m all insecure and I’ll sulk and worry if no one follows me over here for a cuppa….

Mama Strength

Today is a kooky day in a choppy crazy week.  I mean, today’s parenting had me looking at the clock at 6:38 a.m. and thinking, “I’m done. Uh-oh. I’ve used up all my parenting goodness already, holy mackerel.

But of course, I wasn’t.
Not by a long shot.

Not much later, I went to the school Mass and my sweet Emmy came to sit by me.  Ah, bliss.
After, I got to canoodle with the small boys and touch base after a very tough morning with a wild Little Man…and bump noses to remind him that I loved him “to the moon and back” before he went back to classes.

Minutes later my eldest called – ebullient – to tell me that he was finished with college, he had finished; all undergrad classes, work, exams, the whole shebang – done.  We whooped it up together on the phone and I told him I was proud of him for a job well done.
A bit later, my other college frosh son called to tell me he was done in another way: drained and depleted with one hard final left to go.  So, tips and encouragement and prayers for him.
Exactly as I was hanging up, an email came in from Marta’s teacher giving me a heads up about a meltdown at school and incoming home this afternoon; change just throws this girl under the bus.  Tears there, tears to be here.  Oh dear….and a little bit/lots of dread.
In between all of these were moments, of course, of other mundane mom-job stuff, tending and caring for the bodies and household stuff……and all of it seemed pretty routine.

And then I read this post of a dear girl/um, friend.   She writes of needing to go to Ethiopia soon, to court for her next child.  To do so, she has to leave her first sweet boy.  And it takes her breath away.  Oh, just reading those words I can conjure up those feelings from doing that very same thing.  I had to leave my small boys to go across the world to bring home my child.  Twice! One of those times was to get one of those small boys {the one who jumped me after Mass while I was hugging his sister}.
And I remembered back to that feeling and those panic attacks and that breathless feeling.  It’s awful.  But….I also remembered what came with that.
Mama strength.

It is the strength that we build as moms, in the doing of our everyday tending body and soul of these kids….it builds mom muscle.
That mom strength is resolute in it’s willingness to do what needs to be done for her kid.  
Even if it is gaspingly hard.
Even if it is wearisome, tedious, or….dreadful, we will do it.
If it is skittley, or tap dancing happy, or peaceful,  we will do it.
If it is sorrowful, grief-stricken, we will be there, we will do it.
If it is irritating, tiresome, frustrating, we do it.
If it is funny, or quirky or weird, we do it.
We do what needs to be done; from threading belts through pantloops to pouring juice, from listening through gulping tears to counting down a timeout.
We sit through meltdowns, we endure raging spewing and bottomless grief.
We read, we research, we get status reports by phone on classes and roommates.

We hope, we dream, we pray.
We cook, we clean, we counsel.
We drive, oh, how we drive.

We fly across the world with our hearts lurching up, unable to speak for the love that chokes our words.
We stand in the gap, or, really, next to the fridge and sink, and we are strong.

I forget that…oh many many days.
It might seem that the strength is only on the good days, but I say it’s not.
We only SEE it and feel it on the good days.
But it’s there, we’ve built it in a million uncounted exercises of our heart and body.  To use common fitness parlance; it’s our core.  It’s mama strength.  It builds on itself in a magical kind of way and draws deep.  It is as real as real is; too bad it doesn’t look like a six-pack {abs, people…ok?} or better in a bikini.  But I’d say it’s more beautiful, all the same.

“Old Mother Stitching” by Jurij Subic, 1855-1890

>They’re Here……

>Reminiscent of “Poltergeist,” eh?

Kinda….tho we are not talking about ghosts, or aliens, or paranormal activity.
 Nope, we are talking about real plague level bugs and grossness: cicadas.
 Less Spielberg, more redneck….

I don’t fault you if you confused them with locusts; especially as they increase in their hordes and their noise becomes deafening.  They will swarm mowers and cover trees, make dogs sick as they crunch them like popcorn and elicit whoops of joy from boys who torment their sisters.  You crunch them as you walk, you wipe them off your car window with the windshield wipers, you give big spreading trees on the driveway or sidewalk a wide berth…and wear a baseball cap.  Yeah, really, you get the idea…
But, in fact, they are not  locusts and this isn’t divine retribution.

 It’s just bugs.
Lots of them; for 4-5 weeks or so.  
They arrive here in the south on a 13 year cycle and my big boys are laughing at the memory of them and the other kids…well they are not sure what to think…yet.

Me either.  It could go either way; as a trigger to freaking out and anger by my daughter who hates things that mess up routines, as a trigger to freaking out by another daughter who freaks out at any flying bug and bolts inside in paranoia, as a trigger to mischief and pranks by boys big and small…too, too hard to resist (all boys…even the dad person, ahem).

So, we will wait out this cycle and be very glad it’s only once every 13 years.
Summer fun!

>Look Closer Again. And again

Look Closer, Again
I wrote this last year.
I think this has to be an annual post maybe.
Because we cannot should not forget.
And I don’t know how to say this differently.
So, I’m saying it again and again:
The faces are the same.
They are joined by new ones.
But, mostly, they are the same.

So, I’ll say this as many times as it needs to be said:

Today is World AIDS Orphans Day.

These are the faces of the littlest ones.

Not necessarily the youngest, I mean, the littlest.

These are the ones it’s so easy to pass over and look beyond.

But these are our children too.

We are so bombarded with causes and pictures that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, desensitized, numb.

But look at these faces.

Really, look at them.

These are kids.
They are orphans.

They lost their moms and or dads to AIDS.

See them with your heart and soul.

Do something.
Give them the dignity and humanity to really SEE them….
Then say a prayer for them, donate, reach out…
…touch them, hold them, hug them if you can, even.

They are just kids…our kids….who have a future, or should.

>Measuring. Or, how to make yourself crazy in older child adoption…

We do it all the time.
I could go on a tear about how we as Americans do it, with everything, but that might be a whole ‘nother post….and the point is that we do it consciously or unconsciously…ALL THE TIME.

But let’s stay focused: as parents we measure…what? Everything, right? Right!
And no matter  how you became a parent, you still measure everything..right?
Hmmm.  Think maybe not? Well, consider:

My Chris, this pic makes me laugh…goofy baby pics, gotta love em.

If you are having a baby, by which I mean, you are pregnant and are gonna literally give birth to a child…from the very moment you find out you are pregnant, there you are: measuring.
You measure how many weeks along you are, you count the days since your last period, you count how many months ahead til your due date.  Then you go to the doctor and they too immediately start measuring: they measure your belly for the first time (and they will keep that up until it just alarms you) they measure your weight (again, this continues to a shocking gain – unless you tell them to ‘quit that’ as I did when I just couldn’t take the numbers on that scale anymore).  They measure and they measure.  Thus, it’s no surprise that you are unwittingly indoctrinated into this habit of measuring and by the time that baby pops out – or, if you’re measuring, is pushed out after 21 hours of labor that felt like 45, taking what must be 3 years off  your life with the effort – you are measuring without even realizing you’re doing it.  And of course, they whisk the baby away and do all sort of measuring with fancy names like APGAR and fill in fancy charts and graphs with the incessant measuring.

It doesn’t end there, once you are home you measure the amount the baby sleeps or doesn’t, how much they eat or don’t, or if you’re nursing, how often and how long, you measure their hair with your fingertips and count their toes again and again just to be sure they are all there and as cute as you remembered 5 minutes ago.  Then you start the next phase of measuring which is only slightly less number based: the developmental milestones.  As you can see, it just goes on and on and on, in one form or another…the rest of their measured little lives!

Now it’s easy to think, “Aha, but I’m adopting, that doesn’t even apply to me.” 
Well, hang on Roy Rogers…sure it does.
Because if you’re adopting an infant, well you get ALL the infant measuring from the moment of birth onward and then some.  Yeah, you’re gonna get those APGARS and count those toes, don’t think you’ll skip that part.

Sweet Sarah

But you get the added perk, to make up for the personal belly measuring, of measuring Your. Entire. Life. in order to see if it measures up to the standards of your social worker, the agency, the judges, the police FBI feds government, even if it measures up to Homeland Security if you’re adopting internationally.  Nope, you don’t get a “pass” on measuring in the adoption lanes.
So yeah, you’ll be measuring your weight after all, and your spouse’s, your other kids, even your dog’s weight (Think I’m kidding about the dog? Check out our dossier, I kid you not).  You’ll measure your finances and traffic fines, your health and your fitness to parent, and on and on. Let’s not even get started on measuring and counting the wait!
Finally, when that happy day comes and  you are holding that little one in your arms, well, you will sob with amazement and then you’ll go right back to the measuring game like the rest of the parents.

But this post isn’t about that, not really…..
This post is about the measuring done in a whole ‘nother zone: the zone of Older Child Adoption.
In that world, that lane of family building, the measuring takes on all new meaning and form.

And, it’s not good.

The measuring that is done in Older Child Adoption is not nearly so factual or innocuous.
This measuring is more insidious and unconscious and, frankly, is a big huge bear trap.

Because what they don’t tell you in the adoption books is that we moms, we measure us
We measure ourselves against the first mom, against our ideas of what a perfect mom is supposed to be do or how they should appear (…again, like in the fashion ads, it’s always the Benetton mom..but I don’t have a stylist following me around every day..I know you thought I did, lots of folks make that mistake…but I don’t). 
But even all that, that’s not the worst of it.
The measuring that is killing us, we moms who have adopted older children, and/or children from the hard places, is the measuring of our feelings.
Hear that screeching just saying it? Yeah, my voice goes up an octave or two, on the hard days, when I even say that word out loud.
But taking our emotional temperature, checking in with our feelings (love, like, affection, annoyance, disdain, dislike) most of the time, is a trap.
I’m not saying never do it.
But I’m saying  you need to do it far, far, far less often that you think.

In fact, I would like to point out that I believe we moms, in this circumstance of Older Child Adoption, tend to take our emotional temperature…constantly.  I think we, without even realizing it, are always having it on our radar scroll, just like our own personal emotional CNN.  It’s our ENN (Emotional News Network).

But this is one of the huge differences in older versus younger or infant adoption.
These feelings take longer, there is more to build to learn to absorb to work through…for all parties.
In older child adoption the primal human process of bonding is skewed and twisted all around.  The trauma that is inherent in older child adoption (and it is, always, to varying degrees) and/or the prior family experience all influence the new bonding, and it’s efforts; what it looks like, how it plays, how it stalls, what form it eventually takes.
For all involved, all of it, every bit of it, takes time.  Unknowable, unmapped time.
These older children come to us as whole persons; with personalities and traits and hearts already formed and molded to a very very large degree. 
And so, if any or all of you are taking that emotional temperature, if you’re measuring constantly or even daily (much less hourly or minutely)…you will lose your mind.   You’re setting the stage for crazy.

So stop it.
Yup. Stop it.
Stop the measuring!
I might tattoo that, too, on my forehead so I can look at it every time I brush my teeth.
Stop the measuring!
Measuring implies a mark that must be reached.
There is no mark.
A dear friend told me, at the very start of this last adoption, “Don’t take your emotional temperature every day.  Just don’t.”
She’s right.
Another dear friend told me recently, “Stop being so hard on yourself and measuring to what you think it’s supposed to be.  What if this, right now, is ALL it’s supposed to be? This.  This IS good enough.”

And I guess that’s what I am still chewing on, hence this looong rambly post.
But I think we mom’s, me, need permission to accept that we don’t have to measure every moment, every day, every thing.  We can stop the ENN scroll bar.  We don’t have to even know our emotional temperature.  We don’t have to feel our emotional temperature.  Once more: Love is not about the feelings.
So, let’s stop scanning our feeeeelinnngs.
And let’s kick that bit of crazy right out of our days.
With older child adoption, we are here. We are in place.  We are doing it, all of it.

And that’s good enough.
By any measure.

>May. Month to pray.

>And now it is May!

It is a month to pray the rosary; to start if you haven’t ever done it and wondered about it. 
To learn a bit more about it if you don’t understand it (no it’s not deifying Mary, it’s asking for prayers). It’s a month of springtime and beauty, and I have found such comfort and grace in this prayer of contemplation.
This video above is from last year and is about praying for our dedicated priests.  Most of the priests in this world are good holy men, who give their lives in service and prayer, for us.  They can certainly use some of our prayers, right back.
Think about it.
It’s easier than it looks and it’s May!
All the hip folks are doing it!
Happy May!

>Oh, Mercy Me


Divine Mercy

Painting, “Divine Mercy” Michael O’Brian
It is Divine Mercy Sunday.
I don’t know about you, but I need all the mercy I can get.  
For quite some time, I didn’t pay much attention to this devotion.  It seemed goofy, in a way. Sorry, but it did. I sometimes shy away from things that I haven’t fully looked into and/or fully understand. And also, frankly, the more sentimentalized  traditional imagery and ever more sentimentalized editions of this devotion didn’t set well with me, or my oddball aesthetic.  I know, shallow perhaps, but there it is.  My reality.
Anyhow, but as I learn more about this devotion, I am learning about the simple beauty of it.  And I think it is what we all crave.  Mercy.  Just that.  Just a little mercy. 
To that end, the Church recognized today,  the first Sunday after Easter, as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Because Easter is ALL about Mercy, Divine Mercy.  If it is not about mercy, really, there is no real reason to even get out of bed.  But it is.  I know it, heart and soul. 
So today, I join in the prayer:
“….for the sake of His sorrowful passion, 
Have Mercy on us, and on the whole world.”
Happy Easter…still easter….yay…..
**reposted from last year, because this says it for me**