Tuesday, December 30, 2008

6 Months Changes Everything

This time a year ago I could have written a blog entry entitled, "3 years changes nothing." 1 year of paperwork and 2 years of official waiting and we still had no tangible reason to believe that we would have a baby soon. 6 months later we were holding Will in our arms. Now, today, it's already been 6 months since we officially adopted him and perhaps the fastest 6 months of my life.

Once upon a time, Will was just a dream to us, a picture that we carried around and talked about.

When he first met us, we were just the scary people with big eyes and big noses who talked weird and smelled funny. There was no love at first sight for him. He cried from about 5:30-10p.m, and only stopped then because he was so tired he fell asleep.

Now, 6 months later, our lives and our hearts will never be the same, forever changed for the better. I remember thinking it was going to be my life's mission to put a smile on that face, and now I have a collection of pictures of me with grins that are way too big and cheesy to post for the world to see. (But I'll probably cave some day. That would make a good entry!)

We are so proud of Will for all he has accomplished--especially his ability to keep laughing in spite of all the changes and challenges he has been through. He's progressed from bottles to sippy cups and straws. He climbs up and down the stairs with little or no help. He tries to dress himself, sometimes even trying to put on his own diaper! He still loves music and his dance skills are becoming more diverse. (He was copying Bing Crosby while we watched White Christmas!) He's now ready for a big boy bed and to be potty trained. Our baby is not a baby anymore.

Will, we love you! I'll never forget the first time I held you. Or the first time you called me, "Mommy!" Or the first time you ran to me when you had a boo boo. We have no doubt that God put us together. We are so happy that you are part of our Forever Family!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I have always been an old soul. Even as a child I would think about Christmas traditions I wanted to start when I had children. This year we started three new traditions that we hope will help Will remember what Christmas is really about.

1. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story from the Bible and sang Christmas carols while John played the guitar and Will played the xylophone.

2. I heard about this tradition a couple years ago and thought it was a wonderful idea. Jesus, the most important person in the world, only got three presents--gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So we limited our gifts to three per person.

We also wanted to make sure we include gifts that teach about Jesus since it's His birthday, so in addition to the three gifts, Will got some Bible stories. I may try to include these in the three gifts in the future, but I already had three wrapped when I remembered the Bible stories this year.

3. For dessert, we had a birthday cake for Jesus. If anyone has any great cake ideas for the future, please let me know. This year I tried making a red velvet cake for the first time. Unfortunately, there was no red food coloring at the grocery, so Jesus had a purple velvet cake. He's royalty, so I figured that fit.

These were pretty simple things, but they, in addition to reading different children's versions of the Christmas story to Will every night for the past month, made Christmas much more meaningful this year. Now we're ready to take on the New Year! We'd also love to hear your Jesus Christmas traditions.

Merry Grinchmas!

Unintentionally we developed a theme for this Christmas--Merry Grinchmas! While we were not feeling Grinchy at all since Will was finally with us this year, many of our holiday festivities did center around the Grinch.

John and I had gone to ICE in Nashville 3 years ago on our Christmas vacation. Thanks to John's lovely job, Christmas vacation has been cancelled ever since. But this year we wanted to make sure Will didn't miss out on any of the things we loved about Christmas, including a visit to ICE and the Opryland Hotel, so on John's one day off for the week, we packed the car and took a day trip.

Much to our delight, the theme for ICE this year was the Grinch. Check it out here. For those of you who don't know about ICE, it's basically a refrigerated theater where Chinese artists carve intricate sculptures for an indoor Christmas playground. Will was interested, but a bad fall before entering the theater made him quite uncooperative during picture taking!

Yes, we are sitting on ice!

Our favorite book store, Joseph Beth, had a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas just a couple days later and invited the Grinch as a special guest.

I think every child there was actually scared of the Grinch, but Will warmed up to him later and gave him a high five.

I don't let Will watch much TV, but with so much Grinch activity, I did let him watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and he loved it--especially the songs.

Then, when I finally got around to wrapping the Christmas presents, I found some Grinch wrapping paper I had bought on clearance a few years ago. It must have just been sitting there waiting for Will. Of course, Will wasn't too interested in the paper.

I hope that many of you had a very Merry Grinchmas too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All About a Baby

I started out today, Christmas Eve, crying my eyes out. I sat down at the computer to get my quick fix before running around and trying to clean house, go to the grocery, and make a stocking, all before 3 o'clock this afternoon. The stress of everything I had to get done was weighing heavily on me all day yesterday and when I awoke today, but it hadn't pushed me to the verge of tears, at least not yet. For some reason, before my feet even touched the ground, I realized that I hadn't printed a copy of Will's picture on our adoption agency's special needs page. I'd hated to miss that little piece of history, so I ran into the computer room to copy it.

A few weeks after we got back from China, our agency had contacted parents of children with special needs about getting pictures to use for their website. We were more than happy to oblige because of our three favorite things--pictures, Will, and adoption (not necessarily in that order)! Will, the perfect model of a child with a special need, is there as soon as you pull up the web page. What I hadn't seen before this morning, was the AHH Blessings Video. Doing what every mother with a million things to do on Christmas Eve would do, I sat down to watch the video instead. And the tears started.

Staring back at me were the faces of some of the most beautiful children in the world. Many of the children we didn't know, but some were extra close to my heart as we had journeyed through China with them and their families. Others we had actually applied for, or wanted to apply for, on the special needs list. Obviously, that didn't work out, but it was so wonderful to see not only the pictures that had made us love them at first, and then a picture of how they had changed and are thriving now. Will's beautiful face popped up there also. Then it hit me--Christmas was all about a baby.

These babies are beautiful. They pulled at my heart strings and reminded me that we are one of the luckiest families in the world to have our Will, with all his spunk and personality, home with us. We hadn't even seen his picture last Christmas. What we had seen was a picture of one of those little girls in the video who we couldn't even apply for because of a piece of paperwork. In our hearts last Christmas, a seed was planted to move forward with a special needs adoption. God gave me the foresight last Christmas to know that we needed to move on in the adoption process because, after all the waiting, we were to have a child SOON.

The beautiful faces on the video, also reminded me that there are so many beautiful children that still need a home. I was driving in the car a few days ago and the Steven Curtis Chapman song came on, "All I Really Want for Christmas is a Family." It's about an older orphan boy who gets into trouble and really just wants a family. I started crying and looked back at Will, so glad he'll always remember having a family, even if we missed a few months. Of course, Will was just giggling and playing, oblivious to how moved I was by the song on the radio. That song, however, just like the video, reminded me there are more babies out there needing loving homes.

Jesus was "adopted" by Joseph. We have been reading various versions of the true Christmas story every night. We point out baby Jesus whenever we see nativity scenes. Will gets very excited and shouts "baby!" He also points at Mary and Joseph and screams at the top of his lungs, "Mommy! Daddy!" It's the sweetest (and loudest) sound that you'll ever hear. Sometimes, he'll point to Mary and say "Mommy!" and then look back at me. I am so blessed to be Will's mommy. I just don't know how I could love him any more than I already do, but somehow I find a way to love him more every day.

While all these thoughts were tumbling through my head watching that video, it also occurred to me how lucky Mary was to be Jesus' mommy. How lucky Joseph was to be His daddy. How lucky are all the parents who have children to spend Christmas with. How my heart breaks for those parents who long for a child to spend Christmas with. But Christmas is really about one child, baby Jesus. I'm so glad I sat down at my computer this Christmas Eve morning to have a good cry and refocus before I started the day.

Will arranging the nativity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We'll Miss You, Papaw!

Few people love you like your grandparents do. This was and is true in the case of Will's Papaw. John's dad went to live in Heaven a few days ago. He will be greatly missed here. He loved Will with all of his heart.

Will's Papaw was one of the first people to see his picture. He was staying at the nursing home recuperating from a broken hip when we first got our referral for Will. He was pleased with him right from the start. Even on his last day, he was singing songs about Will around the house. We're so thankful for the short amount of time that they got to spend together.

The first visit we took to see Papaw we got a great picture of him with Will on a disposable camera. (We forgot our digital.) Our copy of that picture is somewhere in the basement on a CD, but that's kind of like saying something is located "somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle." We'll find it and put the pictures on the computer, but for now, this picture will have to suffice. In it, John was showing him all our thousands of China pictures, but Papaw had stopped to look up at something Will was doing. He loved looking at pictures of Will. We'd given him several and he looked at them all day long, every day.

On a lighter note, whenever you have to go to a funeral, take a small child with you if you can. Will definitely lightened the mood when we really needed it.

First Visit to See Santa

One of my favorite Christmas memories is laying in bed with my grandmother, who spent the night every Christmas Eve, and actually hearing Santa in the next room leaving my presents. I was so excited that I could actually run in there and talk to HIM that I didn't know what to do with myself. Luckily, my grandma reminded me that if I went in there, he wouldn't leave me any toys.

Will finally had his chance to meet Santa this year. We went to find him at the mall, but when the elves said his camera broke, he magically hopped over to Lexington Green so we could get our pictures with him there. Amazingly, we were the only people in line, so we didn't have to wait. Santa and his photographer gave us plenty of time to warm up to him, but you can see a slight look of distress lingering on his face anyway. Santa is a nice guy and all, but a still a bit intimidating. But pictures with Santa are a right of passage at our house, so here you have it!

Since we had our picture made, any time we see anything that reminds us of Santa, Will says, "Ho, ho, ho!"