Sunday, August 15, 2010

Time, Why Dost Thou Fly So?

Time, why dost thou fly so?
Dost thou not knoweth all a mother must achieve?
Dost thou not knoweth all a mother longs to savor?
Do not tick, tock and mocketh me,
Chiming on as if thou wilst defeateth me.
For a mother doth not simply desireth to achieve, to savor
A mother doth also knoweth how to live without proper sleep
Thus cheating the mocking clock and clipping the wings of time.*
(c) 2010 Poetic Present Poems

Okay - so forget about poetry. I am far too delayed in giving updates regarding the two busy chipmunks that live in this space called home.

For starters, I was just awful about keeping sweet Gracie Lu's adoption blog updated. I last posted in May when she was a mere 16 months. Now at 18 and a half months of age the time has come to post her updates solely on this family blog.

At 18 months Gracie Lu is walking soundly (though she is so clumsy we jokingly refer to her as "the perpetual drunk" as she staggers and falls constantly from under her chunky, chocolate thighs.) She can climb stairs, but we do not dare let her do it alone. And there's no going down stairs just yet.

Gracie understands just about everything we say. I can give her a three step instruction and she will do it. But she only has a handful of words. This week, however, I have noticed a remarkable effort on her part to repeat more words. Repeating tunes, on the other hand, is a simple task for this singing diva. She hums a tune right after hearing it for the first time. Maybe not the whole way through, but you will know she heard it and remembers at least part of it. She also continues loving to dance.

Gracie adores her big sister, Libby. She wants to do everything that Libby is doing. She wants to play with her every chance she gets. The most cherished moments for this mommy are just before Gracie goes to bed when Libby sings her own impromptu song over Gracie and helps me pray over her. Then they cover each other with kisses and hugs. I LOVE THAT!

Fighting does, however, occur and Libby is not always the winner. Gracie can pull a handful of hair out of Libby's head with one swift stroke of her hand. We have found multiple long, black hairs in Gracie's hand after hearing the shrill of our Chinese princess from rooms away.

In the last few months Gracie has proven o're and o're that she is not scared of drowning. We have enjoyed our neighborhood pool on many summer evenings and Gracie has not one drop of fear. I even let her sink in the water one time hoping she would get the idea that she can get hurt if she doesn't let me hold her in the water. But when I yanked her up (after a mere second or two) she opened her eyes wide as if she might be a wee-bit scared and then belly laughed. So much for that effort.

At Gracie's 18 month checkup the doctor was happy to announce that the once severely malnourished babe was now in the 90th percentile in height and the 50th percentile in weight. He says it seems like she's still playing catch-up. We always giggle at the thought that we will never know who her biological dad was and, for all we know, he could have been a giant. Gracie is only a few pounds lighter than her 4 year old sister. And Libby, though the heavier one, at least knows how to latch onto me, giving me some relief. Gracie just hangs on my hip, letting her wiggly thighs jiggle around without a single notion of holding on for the ride. But oh the sweet hugs, pats, strokes and kisses I receive from that chocolate dumpling. She is just the sweetest, most loving baby in the whole world. I especially love it when she insists on brushing mine or Libby's hair while we blow-dry it. Gracie loves stroking our hair and we love her gentle, sweet self.

Libby is growing like a weed as well (and though that's an overused cliche, if you could see the weeds in my backyard you would find new meaning in it all over again). Libby is loooooong... long legs... all muscle and bones. It is difficult to find pants for her because her waist is so tiny.

And if her legs have grown in great length, her maturity has grown deeper. Libby makes for an amazing big sister. She watches over Gracie with great care. She includes her in her imaginative play and rejoices in Gracie's achievements. Side note: Lately they have found my kitchen cabinets to be great hiding spots or forts. I emptied out all my pots and pans the other day just so they could both huddle in one with flashlights and other "play-time gear".

Libby's meltdowns are fewer and farther between. She has learned, in the last 2 months, quite a bit about self-control and how to say "no" to the whispers of ungodliness. She is learning how Jesus works in and through her and her prayers prove her understanding is deep for her age.

Also, this summer Libby has learned how to swim. It has given her much confidence and joy to show off her skills to her mommy and daddy - and anyone else willing to watch. Her swimming and love for the pool have made for great daddy-daughter bonding time. Which has often left me precious time alone with Gracie and our own bonding.

Last week, Libby participated in "China Camp". An adoptive mother and friend, Shawna, began this tradition last year. She opened her home to a handful of adopted Chinese girls all about the same age and prepared 3 days of activities, books, crafts, songs and foods centered around the Chinese culture. This year was remarkable! Libby jumped right in and took great pride in this opportunity each day. She cherishes every craft she made and tells everyone about them. One day the girls each participated in a show and tell - each bringing something from China to talk about. One day they all dressed up in their traditional Chinese dresses and had their pictures taken together. They made noodle necklaces, read about noodle-making and ate noodle-soup for lunch. They looked at maps and even had a "Great Wall of China" model they could all color together. A Chinese woman from the Confucius Institute came on the last day and taught the girls about paper-cutting artwork and taught them a popular Chinese song. She even had them act out the song as it tells a story about a radish needing to be pulled and with each pull a different character joins in to help pull the big radish from the ground. Libby loved being the radish - though, I'm sure she does not even know what one is since we do not make radish eating a habit in our family.

Its been a full summer. On top of all the above, we've celebrated Gracie' first Gotcha Day, enjoyed a few playdates, conquered a week of throat infections, spent a few hours each week at the gym, tackled a bit of home schooling and so on.  We also traveled a great deal in July. We traveled to a Life Way camp in Glorietta, NM. With the help of a nanny, Kristie Martinez (WHO SERIOUSLY ROCKS!), and the company of dear friends (our drummer's wife and kids were able to join us for this camp), we had a great time. I even woke up at 5:30 every morning to go jogging with Angela, our drummer's wife, in the mountains of NM. The morning air was so crisp and cool. It was wonderful! After camp we flew home, had one day to recover and repack and then Billy and I headed out (leaving the girls with our nanny at home) to lead a morning session of worship for Worship Leader Magazine's National Annual Conference. That was a seriously packed trip - interviews, song-critique sessions, practice, sound checks (our sound check ended at 11 PM the day we arrived...then we saw the hotel for the first time - whew!) We were up early to do one more quick sound check and the session then began about 9:30. My voice was so tired by the time we actually got up to sing. But it was a GREAT experience and we met some fabulous people. Kudos to Walt of Centricity who managed our journey with patience and a servant's heart, Matt Papa who co-led with us and writes amazing songs, and the band we were given the honor to play with. It was a blast!

A week after returning from those travels I took my most recent trip to Haiti. And you know the rest from there - except that on August 14 Billy and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary. We had a blast touring Wimberly, Gruene and other antique towns... we pretty much ate our way through them. Must make time for gym this week!

Home school begins this week for Libby because my parents come to town for a 12 day visit and we need to get a little ahead before their arrival. So, tonight - along with uploading a thousand pictures to this looooooong update post - I will be writing lesson plans for the next few weeks. I can't wait to dig in with Libby. She is soooooo ready to read and I can't wait to see her read her first easy reader book. She will be even more proud than the moment she realized she was swimming... and phonics lessons with mommy is a heck of a lot cheaper than swim lessons by professionals, by the way.

If you read everything above - you must really love me. OR - its twenty years from now and my girls are reading through my journals to see how full their lives were as children. If that is the case - girls, I love you and this is for you - SMOOCH, HUG!

And now - for the thousands of photos (okay, not that many).... and...they're not all in the right order, but who has time to shuffle - not me!

home school table...being used for Mickey Mouse's Tea Party of course

Sassy Gracie
Helpful Libby
Gracie the Poser
Kitchen Fort
Libby's Day to Fish with Daddy - they caught a 23 inch trout, btw!
Maliah and Libby at China Camp
Coloring the Great Wall at China Camp
A Magnificent Row of Chinese Empresses
Karleigh Mei and Libby - dress up time at China Camp
Dressing up in Traditional Clothes
"Cheese!" Gracie says.
From Head to Toe a Princess
Capturing a Real Laugh/Smile
Big Sister Consoles Baby Sister Who Is Tired of Taking Photos
Gracie's mean look... which is still so sweet!
Feeling Special in their Chinese Gowns
Libby, Karleigh Mei and Soiban
Libby and Lindy
Lindy, Libby, Maliah and Ava Claire
All Dressed Up
From left to right: Maliah, Olivia, Soiban, Lindy, Libby, Karleigh Mei, Ava Claire and Lily
The Sassafras Crew
My seriously beautiful Ethiopian Princess
Billy and I  - celebrating our 11 year anniversary - Aug. 14, 2010
Saying Cheese - again!
the bashful pose
Gracie in time-out
Gracie and Libby with Kristie Martinez - the AWESOME Nanny.... don' t ask me why Libby had to flare her nostrils for this picture. She is a hoot...and a toot.
the less-dressed playtime
The Rockin' Band at Worship Leader Magazine's National Worship Conference

Libby and Billy
Taken by Libby... a photo with Gracie on Father's Day
Before Billy and I headed out for our Anniversary Date, Libby insisted on a photo with her. Can you say Jealous??
Foote Family Pool Time

 * a poem rushed by time,
cursed with a dry sense of humor
and written by a tired mommy...a.k.a. me
(c) 2010 Poetic Present Poems

Sunday, August 08, 2010

READY (re-written)

So, a while back I posted lyrics under the title "Ready". But since I posted it, I've come to realize that it was far too literal and serious. Today, when I was trying to take a nap a tune came into my head and I immediately knew it was for this song, "Ready", but it would also mean re-working the lyrics entirely. After spending a few hours on it tonight I am feeling much better about it. So, for now - "READY" re-written goes a little like this:


Vs 1:
Love came to visit but it couldn't stay
Hope gave a kiss and then it flew away
If only jumping rope could spring her high
To a solid rainbow,
She’d climb up to my cloud nine

She is ready for love
Ready for hope to hold her hand and smile
Ready to run into forever arms
Why, oh why, can’t I
Tap my red ruby slippers
And fly her home right now

Vs 2:
 (It takes) More than a lemon drop to melt the ache
More than skies of blue to clear the way
All she wants is home and family
Blue birds have a nest
To call their own, Now why can’t she

She is ready for love
Ready for hope to hold her hand and smile
Ready to run into forever arms
Why, oh why, can’t I
Tap my red ruby slippers
And fly her home right now!

Go on and close your eyes
And shout it out three times
There is no place like home
(repeat 2x)

(c)2010 Poetic Present Songs

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Visiting Keemberlie Part II

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday began with a choice to make. I could drive with the Pastor and other travel mates to the new property on which he hopes to build a new orphanage or I could stay back and have some special time with Keemberlie. I was really torn because the new property is so important to the Pastor and he wanted to show us his dream/vision for the future of HCRM. But 5 days isn't a long time to be with your little girl when you're not sure how long it will be before your next trip. Besides, I had told Keemberlie the night before that I was going to give her a princess day - a shower, a new hairdo and a dress! I made the right choice and had a BLAST dolling Keemberlie up.

But first I had to learn how to remove all those teeny-tiny braids from Keemberlie's hair. An hour or more later all 50 braids were undone and I was looking at a head full of crazy hair on that girl. Franzina was getting her hair undone as well. I can't believe how patient those girls were with us. 

My friend, Whitney, and I gathered our girls together. Franzina and Keemberlie were all giggles and joy as they realized they were not taking a spit bath from the sink but a full-on-real-deal shower! I believe it was their first. Their faces looked like this the entire time: 

After scrubbing them down we dressed them up and gave their hair a special leave-in conditioning. The result was even evident to them. They knew they looked beautiful. We could just see it in their eyes. Here are a few great shots of the fabulous results - isn't her fro so spectacular!!! (try to ignore the potty in the background. I forgot to shut the bathroom door before taking the photo....sigh...)

                      the beautiful girl and her precious fro          The model within comes out to play

                              Besties - Sassy Besties                                  Me and my pretty girl

The whole dress up thing took most of the morning. After some snacks we moved on to other fun things. I spent a good part of the day taking photos of other kids with families waiting for updates on them. I will do a post in the near future featuring some of their sweet faces. For now - here's one family I traveled with that took their Christmas card photo while there. They are all so beautiful!

The rest of my day was spent following Keemberlie around, watching her play with her friends and lastly - FACE PAINTING. Can I just tell you that face painting was THE BIGGEST HIT! I was practically mobbed from the second I took those paints and brushes out....

                         playing cards with pretty girl                         Keemberlie feeds sweet Apollos



 As evening approached it was time for worship to begin downstairs. I always take my video recorder and camera to the worship time at HCRM because it is always such a special time, but on this night I did not - but I wish I had. All our little ones (Whitney's and mine) were so very tired that before the first song was over they were all sleeping in our arms. Whitney had two of her babes in her arms while her college age daughter Kalynne held the other. Keemberlie stradled me, rested her head on my chest and fell into sweet sleep. They must have been exhausted because the volume in that room when all the kids are praying and singing is way up there, but these sweet ones were not bothered by it at all.

As Keemberlie fell asleep I embraced her sweet head and just started praying over her. It was one of those moments  you hope to remember forever. I had no idea until several days after returning home that another travel mate - Karen (Rood's mom-to-be) had taken a picture of me holding and praying over Keemberlie. I was in the gym when it came in on my iPhone and when I laid eyes on this photo I burst into tears remembering how wonderful it was to hold Keemberlie and pray over her as she slept.

Sunday, August 1, 2010 came quickly and we (the travel team) were all excited to take our kids out of HCRM for another special excursion. Before we left we had a moment to take a shot of Keemberlie and Franzina ready for church:

First we had to drop someone off at the airport and then head to Pastor's church. Keemberlie fell asleep on my lap on the way there (see above). This is when I noticed that she likes to play with her hair when she's sleeping - or at least, now that she had a fro and could actually play with it.

After church we hung out on the church property while the kids played. More photos....

           Keemberlie on child's chair at church      Jaden, Stanley, Keemberlie, Sherlo, Kalynne, Franzina

After hanging out at the church for quite some time we took an even longer drive (it really felt like forever!) to Dominoes Pizza! Oh yeah! Kids had Sprite for the first time and more pizza! It was a very good lunch, one to be extremely thankful for!

And then it happened.... beading! The girls took the beads we gave them and had their nannies bead their hair. I timed it to see how fast they can do it. It took the nanny over an hour and a half to finish Keemberlie's hair. Uh.... can I just say that she better enjoy that now because once she's home there is NO WAY I'm taking that much time on one kid's hair. Can you imagine!?! But they do look oh so cute, don't they!

That night Keemberlie asked me, "Mom, tomorrow are you leaving?" She was so aware of my pulling out suitcases to repack. And my heart dropped.

If Sunday had come and gone too soon, Monday came even faster... too fast. Of course I wanted to come home to my family... but I HATED waking up Monday morning to the realization that I would have to say good-bye to Keemberlie again. And, in her usual form, she had already checked out. She slept in my bed with me that last night and when she woke up she was all play with her friends taking little time to pay attention to me unless she wanted food. When some older kids came in that morning I heard them asking in sort of a ridiculing way, "Are you going to cry today?" And I saw her shake her head no. And of course, she didn't. She played hard and tried to forget what this day would bring.
This would be the last picture of me with Keemberlie on this trip. When later all the kids were downstairs hugging their parents and crying through good-byes and last minute photos, Keemberlie ran back up the stairs without saying a word... no last hug, no last words....That made me sad, but that is how she is coping. And I totally understand. In fact, when one kid saw me crying he mocked me as I walked by. And that was no fun for me, so I can only imagine how she feels if she is caught being so vulnerable in front of her peers. 

I took this picture right before it was time to head downstairs for good-byes. She was all smiles... and beautiful!

And then the trip home began. I arrived home around 11:00 PM with a whole lot to process and a Chinese princess waiting for me in my bed. The next day would begin with many hugs and kisses from my sweethearts at home.
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