Friday, April 27, 2012

One of Those Days.

You know those days when everything goes perfectly and your life is a breeze, and you are the picture of perfection from afar? was not one of those days.
Quite the opposite actually.
What is the opposite of such a day you ask?  It is one of those days when you remember your doctor's appointment five minutes after it was supposed to begin.  When your head can't stop spinning so fast with all of the things that you were meant to do in the morning, that you are having trouble figuring out where to begin.  It's when all of the people you need seem to either be sick, missing, or unresponsive.  When your children forget their manners and to put on underwear.  Need I go on?  Because friends... I could.

This weekend - a spur-of-the-moment picnic at Murlough Bay
But then it is also one of those days when you're looking through the photos from a day not-so-long-ago and you remember that there are wonderful days.  You remember that most days are wonderful days.  And then you thank God for those days, because friends, could you imagine a life without those days?

Thursday, April 26, 2012


As I write this I am officially 25 weeks pregnant. 
Every week I receive no less than five emails telling me about the progress of my baby.  Why, you ask?  It started toward the middle of my first trimester when I this burning desire to sign up for some sort of email update.  Part of it was because I was afraid that I was missing out on enjoying the growth of this baby, but also because I remembered how much fun it was to compare Liam to edible fruits and vegetables when he was growing inside of me.  When someone comments on how huge I was getting, I wanted to be able to say, "yeah...they're like the size of a passion fruit in there." or, even better, "I know!  It's like a big juicy cantaloupe now!" (man I'm hungry.)  However, I realized quickly that they don't do that here... maybe something about comparing a living baby to weird fruits no one's ever heard of (what is a kumquat anyways?) And so began the search for an email update that would at least give me something I could work with.  Instead I just kept getting email subscriptions that either had my wrong due date, didn't tell me the size, or - even worse - did it is centimeters (gasp!).
So using all of my energy to sign up for multiple email subscriptions, but not having the energy to unsubscribe from above-mentioned email subscriptions, I am reminded weekly of what I, and the baby, are up know - just in case I couldn't tell by the nightly punching bag called "my ribs".

But last week every email I received told me the same thing...that this birth was now viable - meaning that if I gave birth to a healthy baby, it would have a chance in surviving.
That's good news.
But I don't believe them.
Because life is fragile, and a miracle, and pretty overwhelming.
Because even though premature babies almost always live on Grey's Anatomy, they don't always live in real life.  
And because in 2011 I had at least three friends lose a baby past 24 even at full term.

THAT may be one of the most heartbreaking things that could happen to anyone.

If I've learned anything over the past year, I've learned that every jab to my ribs is a blessing.  Every kick to my bladder is a gift.  Every time I feel even the slightest movement I have to thank God that everything is okay for now.  Because it could all be gone so so quickly.

So I welcome 25 weeks, not necessarily because it is one week closer to your arrival - that's a whole other story - but because it means you and your fragile self have been able to survive one more week.  Let's make it 15 more, what do you say?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Future President of the United States...or not.

In a very interesting or not-so-interesting discussion over cups of tea (because that's what we do now) I came to the realization that only one of my children will have the opportunity to actually run for President of the United States.

Actually, I remember making the realization that Miles wouldn't ever be able to do it around the time that the almighty Trump was questioning whether our President actually had an American birth certificate.  At the time it really bothered me.  Little can be anything you want to be when you grow up... except President.  There are actually laws preventing you from moving into the White House and running our country.

If I really think about it, I don't actually want to be the mother of the President.  I can't really think of anything worse now that I write this.  There are many reasons when you think about it.  You would always be in the public eye and have to wear old-lady dresses (no running to the grocery store in sweats).  No one would ever have anything nice to say about your child. You would have to watch them go from young and vibrant to old and beaten-down in the papers and television. I have a sneaking suspicion it may be hard for them to ask for time off to come to the elaborate Easter Dinner you've prepared for your entire family.  And you can forget about blogging - if anything would keep my kids from becoming public officials it would probably be this blog and how honest it is.  (You really want a child that was raised by that woman running the country?!) All the same, it is a little discouraging to think about raising three kids, telling them they can be anything they want to be....except President.  And only you two.  The middle one was lucky enough to be born in middle America so he can still do it.

The moral of the story is that I've been thinking a lot lately of what I would want my kids to grow up to be.  The right answer is of course: Whatever they want to be.
But if we're honest, we all have plans.  Here are my career goals for my kids as of today.
  • Hairdresser.  Not a barber.  A hair dresser.  Imagine free highlights for life.  Liam already has a deep love for the hair dresser he just met yesterday when he got his hair cut.  It may have been the sucker, but I have a feeling it was kindred spirits.  I'm looking into apprenticeship options.
  • Pilot.  I heard that immediate family gets super cheap flights if someone is a pilot.  I think flying to Cabo every winter for $50 sounds like a great way to reward your mother for raising you so well.  (or maybe not-so-well, but the best she knew how)
  • Restaurant/Bistro/Catering Company Owner.  I would like to be well-fed in my old age.  I would also want it to be stylish and only open when I don't need them to come and take care of me.
  • Artist.  So I can sip wine at all of the hip art openings in the big cities with my walker.
The list goes on and on.  If you see a pattern of me benefiting from their careers more than them, then that is purely a coincidence. I would never be that selfish.

On a sidenote to my children when you're older and reading this....I would be happy with whatever you all do.  Especially if it keeps you out of cardboard boxes in alleys and it fills your heart with joy.  It would just be nice for you to also consider what might make your Mom's retirement enjoyable as well.

On a second sidenote:  If it is 50 years from now and you are digging this up because my son or daughter is in fact running for President and you need some dirt on their mother....get a life, and go call your mother.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ten Truths on Tuesday

  1. Baby sheep may be the cutest thing in the entire world.  I actually think sheep are really dumb.  And I can say that without you all getting mad at me because I spent a big part of my childhood raising individual lambs, falling in love with them, and then crying in front of a bunch of farmers in overalls while selling them at the county fair.  But I still think they're stupid.  However, their babies are divine.
  2. Having my parents visit has been the highlight of my month so far.
  3. Liam's new thing to say when he doesn't get to do what he wants is "I have to."  No dude, you don't have to have Skittles for breakfast, and you don't have to hang off my neck.
  4.  I'm terrified to take my driving test here.  I have been able to drive for one year with my American license, and then I have to take a test if I want to keep driving in the UK.  To be honest, I probably shouldn't have passed the first time I took it 16 years ago.  Did you know they actually use their "hand-brake" here? -  As in the emergency brake that I always thought was for parking and to fill the hole in the console.  They actually use it at stop signs.  That is too much foot/hand/eye/thought coordination for me at this time in my life.
  5. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are super awesome.  My parents brought some over.  I made cookies for the volunteers and if I must say so myself....they were an amazing reminder of home.  It was the chocolate chips that made them.
  6. Sunday was super Skype-day for us.  Besides making me feeling incredibly popular and well-liked, it made me also realize that the people I love are not so far away.  Skyping = food for my soul.
  7. It is really fun to dream about your life when it is completely open.  We don't have jobs or a house or even a car waiting for us when we leave here.  I could easily give in to the reality check that is in the back of my mind and freak out about what we're going to do when we leave here in a little over a year.  However, I much prefer the dreamy - your life can be any way you imagine it - sort of approach.  Plus, it's a much more fun way to spend my time.
  8. Today I miss my dog... a lot.
  9. The days are so long here that I'm afraid nighttime is going to disappear altogether.  It's only April and the sun's up from before 6 to after 9.
  10. I loved the Hunger Games movie, but when I saw Lenny Kravitz come out as Cinna - Katniss' stylist - it may have made me the single happiest woman on the face of the earth at that moment.  I love me some Kravitz and I love me some Cinna.  It was like a big love sundae for me.  I'm not sure how I missed it in the movie trailer I watched 20+ times before going.
For the history of Ten Things I Know to Be True on Tuesday, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2012


In the world of too much information about almost everything, bodily practices can provide great relief.  To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger - these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology.  All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir.  Most of these tasks are so full of pleaseure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy.  And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone.  In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.

- Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

Saturday, April 14, 2012

D+T=(yo)U, Part 2

Time had stopped.  She became aware of this the moment she kept her breath from audibly sucking in too quickly as his hand accidentally brushed against hers.  Dear God, how long had they been sitting there in her old Chevy Corsica with the windows down and the CD on repeat?  Did it matter?  All that mattered was that it didn't end.  She didn't want this moment to leave itself and come back as something she had imagined or concocted in this love-struck mind of hers.
"No...not love." she thought to herself as she laughed at his comment about the old men playing slow-pitch softball on the diamond in front of them.  Well, she tried to laugh anyways.  She half feared that it was a giggle, and she couldn't really have herself giggling like a school-girl right now.  She had promised herself when she left for college that there would be no more school-girl giggling.  Giggling was for desperate girls.  It would take her years to realize that she was wired to giggle.  That people actually liked her giggle.  That even her tough middle-aged father giggled.
She gave out another hardy chuckle and then sucked it back, afraid it was too much.  How do people do this anyways?
He was so beautiful.
Not beautiful in the "buff guy you notice the first day of school and pray every night to God that he will ask you out" sort of way, but in the "we've been friends for so long and I'm just now starting to realize you're gorgeous and lovely and I want to have your babies" sort of way.
Whoa.  Did she really just think that?  She blushes even though his conversation has moved on to his parents' farm back in Illinois and she knows he can't read her thoughts.  Dear God, please don't let him secretly be a mind reader.  Her face turns just a shade more crimson than it already was.  He has no idea.
He's so perfectly clueless.
She reaches into her pocket and pulls out some gum.
"You want some?" she asks.  What a stupid question.  He's going to totally think you want to kiss him.  Look at him.  Of course you don't want to kiss him, you think as you glance at his tan hand reaching for the CD player.
Okay.  Maybe you do, but not now, you're not ready.
"Sure."  He reaches for the pack.
She smiles at her hands.  "He totally wants to kiss me and marry me, and live happily ever after," she thinks - suddenly confident that it won't be today, or tomorrow, but soon, and at the perfect moment.

Part One

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why I haven't posted...

Reasons I haven't posted since Thursday.....
  1. We had some important visitors named Grandpa and Cece.  They brought us these cool hats. (The rest of the accessories are pure Liam.)

2.  They colored Easter Eggs with us.

What you get when you dye brown eggs.
3.  They called the Easter Bunny and told him to stop by.

4.  We did Yoga...or "loga" as Liam calls it.
Enjoy this picture, because my mom will kill me when she sees it.
5.  We opened packages from the other grandparents, Nana and Papa.
6.  We found Wally... A LOT.
7.  and I was sick - imagine having a giant wet sponge shoved up into your sinuses sick.  Unfortunately for all of you I don't have a picture that shows this.  You're bummed, aren't you?

Despite the sickness, it was a great weekend, and a great visit with my parents.  Like always, I didn't take enough pictures.  I cried when they left. I ate too much good food.  We did lots of cool touristy things that I was so busy enjoying that I forgot to get my camera out.  
This must change for the future, otherwise my kids will begin to think I just pretended to have visitors.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Good news everyone... I'm getting really good at goodbyes.

Okay.  That is total rubbish.  I'm just as bad at goodbyes as I was before.  My piano teacher once told me that practice makes perfect.  But the thing is, if this is in fact true, then I should be pure gold at goodbyes.

According to Ms. Little's Laws of Practice, this is what I should be:
Charismatic - saying all of the right things.  Telling the person what they mean to me and how they've made my life better in the short time we've been together.  Perhaps I would even wish them luck on their next endeavors.
Confident - giving strong hugs and looking the person in the eye when I tell them all of the above things.
Graceful - waving them off with a smile and dignified posture, while slowly wiping the gentle tears from my face.
Beautiful - because who doesn't want to be freakin' beautiful when they do something, especially see a person off?

Here's what I am:
Silent - I can't say anything.... absolutely nothing.  I am frozen into a state of complete silence because I have convinced myself that one teeny tiny sentence out of my mouth would result in intense waterworks.  To be honest...thinking of one teeny tiny sentence would probably result in them.
Timid bordering on anti-social behavior - If it were up to me I wouldn't even be there.  The person would just disappear and I could mourn their absence from underneath the fluffy duvet of my cozy bed.  Looking them in the eye?  In these situations that I would rather eat chalk dust out of a giant's bellybutton than have to actually look someone in the eye and share a "moment" during goodbyes.  It's not because I don't want to, but because I just don't know how.
Awkward/Paralyzed/Inept - Rather than waving them off with dignified posture, I, or rather my mind, is huddled in a giant heep on the floor wishing they could just stay so that I wouldn't have to live through this.
Ugly - This is really brought on by the "ugly cry" that I have mentioned before, and then develops into the "ugly pitty party" and later the "ugly trying to get a grip".

Two days ago I had to say goodbye to my parents after they made a short trip out here to see us all.  The goodbyes used to be hard when I was first married because I wanted them to live closer to me, and I was upset I was living in Central Illinois with no friends.  Then after I actually got friends and loved living in Central Illinois, they became hard because I had kids and had to watch the sadness they went through after leaving behind their grandparents.
Two days ago it was still hard to say goodbye even though I'm very happy with where we are and the life I'm living.  Just ask the people who probably saw me blubbering at the airport curb as I was hugging my parents goodbye.  Or you can ask the poor woman you chose to sit next to me in the cafe where I treated myself to a flaky croissant and  uninhibited tearshed.  Of course, you could also ask the people working at Ikea who watched me walk around like a zombie for an hour.  Ask anyone and they will tell you how much I still suck at goodbyes.  Because I do. 

This job is full of goodbyes.  And the really horrible thing about these goodbyes - the REALLY sucky thing - is that they really could mean "forever".  Those goodbyes are the goodbyes I am worst at.  We just said goodbye last week to a group of volunteers that had been here only for a few weeks.  And it was HARD...surprisingly hard.  
But even with all of my selfish grieving and sadness, I've recently been introduced to something new... The mourning of my children.  My little boys are also sad.  I'm watching them grieve these goodbyes and I find myself wondering if we're doing the right thing.  Every time they hug a volunteer goodbye I want to die a little.  Because these volunteers are forming them into the men they will be.  They will never get to know how much that particular volunteer meant to much they loved them.  For now, all they know is that they miss them.

And that is why I am not speaking to goodbyes for the time being.  They keep breaking my heart and the hearts of my kids.  Is it too late to give up goodbyes for lent?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

D+T=(yo)U, Part 1

As a freshman in college she loved to have a good healthy crush.  She wasn't interested in a boyfriend, and inevitably scared off any potential suitors due to her social awkwardness and lack of awesomeness.  But a crush?  That she was good at - a professional really.  The beauty of a good crush was that it was the perfect amount of fun, excitement, and commitment.   She pretended she wasn't interested in relationships.  Those were messy.  And the long-term relationship thing?  She'd tried that.  She much preferred talking about boys that had no idea she existed and whose names she wouldn't dream of finding out.
Reader, let's not assume she was a flirt.  Flirting would actually involved talking to a boy, which was outside of her realm.  To her, the perfect love affairs were completely one sided and only happened from a minimum of twenty feet away.  Every relationship consisted of exactly zero exchanged words, and if by some drastic mistake she was forced to talk to a crush...she would turn ten shade of crimson, sweat from her knees, then rush into the parking lot to duck behind parked cars.  That was the way she liked it.  It was her version of extreme sports.
Over pints of ice cream her girlfriends would complain about their boyfriends, but she would have nothing but loving words to say about her crushes.  She would give her crushes names, like "corduroy pants boy" or "news editor boy" or "hotty scotty" and would talk about what they did that day that gave her such pleasure.  Maybe it was tripping up the stairs at the library, or eating an entire order of nachos at the snack bar.  She was easily smitten...and not at all particular.
Her crushes were, by society's standards, atypical.  They were the boys no one else noticed.  They were the boys her friends tried to talk her out of liking. They wore second hand clothing and danced without abandon at parties.  They smiled at all the right times and had just the right amount of social awkwardness to make them irresistible. 
Then she met Phillipe.*  Phillipe was nice and funny and worried about things like prepackaged food that used too much plastic.  He played frisbee football, had insanely hairy legs, and probably never showered, but she was smitten.  Phillipe became "long haired boy."
Phillipe didn't know of her crush.  He couldn't have known.  That would clearly ruin everything.   She tried to keep it cool while still admiring his flowing locks of hair, but her plan backfired when she found out that she actually liked Phillipe as a person.   At night she would bring him and his roommate leftover rolls from her luxurious job waiting tables at Bob Evans.  He would bring her and her friends leftover "mistakes" from his job delivering pizzas.  They would all sit in their dorm rooms listening to Indigo Girls and devising dangerous plans that involved jumping the train that ran through campus.  What was once a crush gradually sprouted into a full-blown friendship, and that is where the catastrophic mistake happened.  Because readers, nothing ruins a good crush like friendship.
Eventually Phillipe's high school girlfriend enrolled at the university, and their group of friends became so close that her crush fizzled down into a burning heap of endearing friendship.  It didn't help that she began to notice how he never showered and how his legs were super hairy.
The girl was far from heartbroken.  New crushes continued to come onto the scene in drips and drabs.  She prepared herself for a summer away and her sophomore year.
She could sense that exciting things were edging their way into her future.  She knew that the next year would bring new adventures with Phillipe, their friends, and his roommate... Dustin.

(to be continued...) Read on Part 2 Here...
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

*The name has been changed in order to 1.  make it sound way more sexy, and 2. to save the writer from total and utter embarrassment, although anyone who knew her in college would likely know exactly to whom she is referring.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

3rd Annual Family Day of Miles

Yesterday we celebrated our little boy coming home with us three years ago.  Except he's not so little anymore.  The dreadful and beautiful part of it all is that he'll just keep getting bigger and older.
This is how you throw the perfect Family Day for someone like Miles.

  1. Break your car.  Miles went to school this someone else's car.  It wasn't really planned, but our car is getting work done so we had to borrow another couple's car.  Miles loves NOTHING more than to ride in other people's cars.  It was like we broke our car on purpose just to make his day more special.  He was so excited that he ran all of the way out of school chanting "Mick and Aafke's car".  He will tell anyone about it that will listen.  I personally don't get it, but he seriously LOVES it and can't think of anything else worth talking about for the entire day. 
  2. Unless you tell him that he is going to go see a movie about pirates and ships.  If you are a really stupid and inexperienced parents (such as moi), you tell him this right before his nap.
  3. Then you listen during his entire nap time as he talks to himself about boats and movies and says "ARG" a lot from his bedroom.
  4. When it is almost time to leave (2.5 hours later) you tell him he can get out of bed (after he asks you from his room "Mom, you call me and I get up?" 30 times).  He then proceeds to run circles around the house shouting about movies and pirates and ships (even though you're pretty sure he doesn't actually know what a pirate is).
  5. You then go into town and run a few errands before the movie, where he tells every shop keeper about his movie plans and that he is going to get a "hangburger" afterwards.  (Which is news to you.)
  6. During the movie you get the boy popcorn (which Liam calls "cop-porn") and you share you sinful Coke with him and his brother.  Boys are completely engrossed in the movie, and they look 100% angelic sitting so nicely with the light from the screen reflecting off their eager faces.  They are literally on the edges of their seats and you are literally in love.
  7. Afterwards your son will tell you he actually wants "noodles" so you go to a noodle place where he then looks at the menu and requests the non-existent "hangburger."  You get noodles and hope he doesn't notice.
  8. Miles spots the present in your purse when you're not looking and insists on opening it.  It's a car transporter.  Apparently the perfect gift.  So perfect in fact that his two year old brother spends the entire meal whining and begging for a turn at it. 

9.  You return to the car poor and exhausted, and the lack of nap sets in.  You ride home the rest of the way with one boy fast asleep and the other talking non-stop like you've fed him speed before the trip (perhaps an after-affect from the Coke).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

3 years

Dear Miles.
Today we will go to a movie in the theater just for you, and will then go out to eat just for you.  We have a present wrapped up inside the closet just for you.  Today is all about you even though you don't realize it.
Because, Little Boy, today isn't your birthday, or the day we celebrate you being completely and utterly potty trained (although that would be throwing me a real solid dude), but the day we brought you home with us three years ago. 
It was a cold day in Seoul, but I didn't notice.  All I knew was that I was getting on a plane with my baby, and I loved you so much I couldn't believe I was so lucky to have you.  But as my heart was swelling and bursting, there was another woman across the ocean that loved you even more than me in those beginning moments.  A woman that had just handed you over to me, praying that I would take care of you.  She asked me to one day bring you back to see her again.
Little boy, you were lucky to be loved so fiercely by three different women before you were even one, but unlucky to be taken away from the first two.  I promise you that it wasn't because they didn't want you.  I promise you it wasn't because they weren't doing a good job of taking care of you.  I also promise you that they must think of you everyday.
Which is why on this day we must write a letter to your foster mom, to show that we think of her also, and remember her, and because I promised to take care of you when we left her.  It wasn't an easy day for her, little boy.  It probably wasn't an easy month, or year after you left.  She must know that you loved her.  She was the only mother you knew.  You must have known that she loved you and her heart broke when we drove off with you.
So today when I write her another letter I will tell her how absolutely loved you are.  I will tell her how you are such a fast runner and love to play soccer outside.  I will tell her that you love to eat noodles and just about anything I put in front of you as long as you can't see corn in it.  I will tell her that your preschool teachers say that you are absolutely so sweet to your classmates and that you are excellent at remembering names.
There is a lot I will tell her.  Because there is a lot about you that amazes me everyday.  And I think that the love she gave you those first 10 months have a lot of bearing on how incredibly clever you are, and the kindness you show everyday.  We have a lot to thank her for little boy, but most importantly we have to thank her for loving you before we were allowed.
Your mama.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why did the pregnant lady cross the sea?

To get to the island of course.
(Oh stop....I know you like a good corny line every now and again.)

Over the last month I have had the intense pleasure of planning a two day residential for our long term volunteers - the volunteers that are here for a full year.  Last week we finally got to see it in action.
If you know me, you know that planning a short little love-filled trip for a group of my favorite people using someone else's budget is just about the most exciting thing in the world for someone like your's truly.
I loved everything about it.
I loved making them fun little invitations that sent them packing and planning without a clue what they were packing and planning for.
I loved keeping everything a surprise and then watching them figure out where we were going and what we were doing as the day unfolded.
I loved that the sun was shining and that we had a cloudless night to gaze at the stars.
I loved introducing them to smores.
I loved their willingness to try all sorts of new things.
And I loved watching their friendships bulge and grow as the two days progressed.

On Sunday night they all received invitations with directions for things to pack, and a plee for them to show up at our house at 8:15 a.m. sharp the next day.  
There we served them breakfast and had a good time enjoying the already amazing weather that we were blessed with.

After more packing we ended up on the Ferry that travels over from Ballycastle to Rathlin Island.

Once on the island we hiked about 3 miles with our packs to our cabin.  Everyone had to wait for the pregnant lady with the smallest backpack to get up the hills, but we all eventually made it.

I wish I could say I took tons of pictures of our actual time there, but the above picture of our hike was the very last picture I took of the entire trip.
So I didn't take many pictures. But I'll tell you what I did do.
  • I slept in until 8:00...   seriously, 8:00!
  • I took a silent night hike and have never NEVER in my life have seen so many stars.
  • I cried a little - but in a good healthy cleansing way.
  • I missed my kids.
  • I ate great food and a lot of sugar.
  • I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.