Monday, February 23, 2009

O sweet I've missed you.

Levi is SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT. Wow. 3 days...and not that bad if you ask me. Worked like a charm. We are praising God that he is sleeping. Life is so much better on 8 hours. ;) I'm not sure that it is related - but we've seen him have more separation anxiety over the last couple of weeks. Not that we've left him anywhere for very long, but if we leave the room for even just a second when others are around, he calls us back in. Luckily, he doesn't freak out when we leave the room at home, or anything of that sort. So, we are counting our blessings. Actually, we count it all joy since he's attached enough to us to care that we are leaving!

Clearly I've not been blogging with my new found energy, but I HAVE done a lot I assure you. Well, how about if I tell you.

1) I've prepared my 2008 taxes and sent them off to the government. It's always so much more fun when you are getting a refund! Adopting an April 15th baby (his birthday, anyway) will make tax day much more fun every year!

2) I sent out 90 adoption announcements. I spent much of the time compiling addresses from Christmas cards this year that fell off my "to do before baby comes" list since he came sooner than expected. But they are (mostly) done.

3) And I started an adoption video for Levi. I'm about 3/4 done. I'm hoping to unveil it at his homecoming party on 3/1/2008 that some friends are throwing us. It's coming along well. It includes video and photos from our entire process. It's been quite an emotional project for me. While I've enjoyed doing it, the learning cure has caused many, many frustrations. Hopefully, the end product will help me justify the hours I've spent on it. I'll be sure to post when I have it complete.

I'll finish this posting by adding his announcement. I didn't get a perfect scan, but you'll get the gist. I'll try to post Levi's letter soon. It will give you a little taste of his personality (it's amazing what you can learn in just over a month!). Also, we are headed to the pediatrician tomorrow and we'll get some stats. Will let you know!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Baby Boot Camp

We have had to do "Baby Boot Camp" now 3 times. Well, the 3rd is still in process. This is that moment when you finally say "enough is enough." Both of my kids responded well to our methods, and I have thankfully recovered from the trauma that I experienced during the process!

Our social worker told us that 10 days was a magic number for kids adjusting. I'm here to report that 10 days was sort of a "magic" number for us in terms of sleep for Levi. It marked the time when his sleep got worse instead of better. He is up from about 1 or 2 a.m. until about 5 a.m. Sometimes he's sleeping, other times he's crying or crawling around our bed. Either way, we were awake, trying to get him back to sleep. We know from his paperwork that he didn't sleep well in Korea either and we've spent 2 1/2 weeks trying to ease him into better sleep habits. When he woke up in the crib, we tried him in the bed. When that didn't work, we tried just one of us in bed with him. We considered that it might be food or reflux related, but when we talked to others about it, he didn't really have other symptoms of it. We tried letting him cry in the middle of the night for a little while only to discover that his ear infection had returned and, of course, we felt horrible. At which point we threw in the towel on the sleep training and put him back in our bed, where he continued to wake up and be awake for a long time in the middle of the night. We were lost. While we were genuinely concerned about making our son cry at night when he's been through so many changes, he and I were getting such bad sleep, I was beginning to loose the ability to function normally. I was waiting at an intersection to pull out onto a major road the other day, when an impatient driver behind me honked and gave me the "Just stick yourself out there gesture" (I could see her in the rear view mirror.) AndI responded in a way that only a sleep deprived mom can - I bawled. Luckily I was only a few minutes from home. But, it was my wake up call. (No pun intended).

That is how we turned to Dr. Ferber. Ferberizing him, is what I like to call it. Yesterday, I read Solve your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber. I reserved it at the library and when we had the "all-time worst night" on Tuesday night, I made sure to get it on Wednesday. It only takes reading a few chapters to get some really, really great information. After reading the first few chapters, I realized taht the kids in the book could have been Levi, they were that similar! I'm not going to go into detail about the book because (and let me be VERY clear about this), I would not recommend this for the average adoptive parents at 1 month into the process. In fact, I have wrestled with it myself - but in one night (count it!), I got a full nights sleep. I'm not sure if my body knows what to do with 8 hours! It did feed me truth I didn't want to hear too - that Levi is probably going to be getting up at 6 or 6:30 a.m. for a while, so I need to make sure to adjust my bedtime accordingly.

Levi continues to be a dream baby all day long. Even today, after he did some crying last night. He actually functions on little sleep much better than I do - a skill that will serve him well in his college years. :) I'll make sure to post after a couple of days to see if this sleeping solid thing actually sticks. Until then, sweet dreams!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dear Sweet Ella,

When I think of the joy that you bring our family - I'm amazed. You are unique in every way. You find delight in the smallest things, and you enjoy making us laugh. You are so special, so sure of yourself, and you have strength beyond your years. I am laughing to think about how quickly you jump to things when I ask! The energy that you had when you were little seemed exhausting. But now, it is such a blessing as I watch it shape you forever "can-do" attitude. I love that you can be "just one of the boys" and get along with 2 brothers so well. I often say that you are the perfect girl for two brothers!

I went to your Kindergarten conference back in the fall and you teacher remarked at how compassionate you are. "If anyone is in need of love from a friend" she said, "Ella is right there." I was actually a little surprised to hear this, and quite frankly, I wondered if it might be a phase or just something the teacher noticed once or twice and attributed to you. But then, I started to hear you talk about school: about how you seek out children on the playground who "don't have anyone else to play with", or how you rub your friends back when she is crying. And I realized that your teacher was right. You have amazing compassion. I see it with your friends, with animals, and now, with your little brother. If something happens to Levi that you can "fix", you are right there with the solution - A pacifier when he is sad, a cheerio when he's hungry, a kiss when he's hurting, a funny face when he's frowning. I think about how you might use this uniquness as you grow older. Will you help the poor or the needy? Will you start a program that's built around your comassion? Will you be a more compassionate mom that I am often to you or your brothers? For now, I am content to watch you grow and lean into the gift that God has given you. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't help because you are "just" a kid - you are an example to me my sweet baby.

For today - I'm so glad to be "the girls" of the Gerrard family with you. We love shopping. We love cooking. We love crafting together. We just love girlie things (but not too girlie!). We are now outnumbered - but I love embracing life with you. I'm praying that God would make you a woman of noble character, just as I'm praying for me. We have a long way to go (and always will!) - but I'm so glad to do it together.

I love you my darling little girl,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To my first boy...

The next three posts will be letters to my children, starting with Ben. May you find insight into their souls through these posts.

Dearest Ben,
I praise God for you! Your sweet disposition is only surpassed by your amazing smile. The last few weeks with you have been amazing - we've been able to see a side of you that we do not see often. You have laughed at and with Levi for the last 3 weeks. It has been fun to see what you would do to spark a smile or get a laugh from your baby brother. You have risen to the task of welcoming a baby brother so beautifully. You may have caught me with tears in my eyes on more than one occasion, as I watch you grow up right in front of me. I've said this to you before, but I would have been honored to be your little brother or sister. You are such a sweet, kind-hearted brother. Ella & Levi are very, very blessed to have you. You are big in every way to them.

I've enjoyed reminiscing about "when you were a baby" as we watch Levi conquer new milestones. Levi reminds me so much of you in so many ways and I enjoy watching him as much as I watched you when you were little. You even have offered up your baby shoes for him when he takes his first steps! That is just the kind of brother you are. I want you to keep those shoes for you, to remind you that I will never forget those first steps, those first words, or that first smile. You are my firstborn, my oldest son, and I love you more than words can say.

I'm in awe of the young man you are becoming and I am praying that God would help you continue to love what's right - that he would protect you and help me to be the best mom I can be to you. I pray that he will fill in the gaps - as there are so many to fill. Daddy and I are far from perfect, so much so that sometimes it hurts me to think of how many times I've lost my patience with you or yelled at you. Many times, your only grievance was being just a child. You are so mature beyond your years that sometimes I forget.

Thank you for welcoming Levi into our family...for putting up with having to keep your legos up high, for sleeping right through the night time crying, for making funny noises and funny faces that keeps us all laughing, and for giving him sweet nighttime kisses as he falls asleep. You are a treasure to me and I love you so very, very much.

All my devotion,

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lice, lice baby...

If you've wondered where I've been...I've just been around. Nit-picking. Literally. Any of you who have had your kids in the public schools very long, know that more than occasionally there is a lice outbreak. My kids have weathered this quite well...until now.

They came home from school last Wed, and I decided to just "check" them (after getting the 27th note from school warning that there'd been lice). I thought I saw a bug on Ella, but couldn't repeat it. And yes, if you keep up with my blog, you know I've had this panic before. :)

So - after their baths, I combed their hair with a special comb I'd purchased (thanks for the tip Kathy), and found something on Ella. At first, I couldn't tell what it was, so I asked to borrow Steve's reading glasses. When he found out what it was for he said "I have exactly what you need!" and he brought me his magnifying eyepiece that he uses for viewing slides. I will tell you that what I saw under that eyepiece is still giving me nightmares. So, while it worked to definitively let me know that it was lice, I don't recommend it.

I'm only telling you this because it ended up being one of the most interesting "family nights" we've had. How my kids reacted was the most fascinating part of the evening. When I found nits on Ben (only a few), he cried as if it were a personal loss on historic levels. He didn't want to be subjected to lots of baths and excessive hair combing. One he learned he was going to miss the 1/2 day of school the next day, and that his case was minor, he made peace with it all.

Ella was another story. She looked at the lice through that eyepiece - and she couldn't wait for me to rake out another one, so that she could see! Every comb she would turn around to see if something came out. I assured her that if she would sit still, I promised to let her know if I found another. And when I did, she ran about the house - proclaiming LOUDLY that we'd found "another one daddy!" I always knew, she was a bug lover at heart - but this proves she's a die hard! :) Fortunately, I only found about a dozen creatures on my kids combined. And Levi, Steve and I managed to escape them (for now). I spent all day Thurs doing laundry, combing hair and bagging up anything "fluffy" (according to Ella). For a few hours, I had the cleanest house I've had in a while. I'm sad to report that you wouldn't know that now! :)

So, I'll post about bigger and better (and less creepy) things soon! But for now, you can rest in the peace that we are alive, well and most importantly - LICE FREE! :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To my friends who are waiting...

This post is for those of you who are still waiting. Waiting on your blessings from Korea, your blessings from the womb, your health to improve and your faith to be restored. For those of you who are waiting for your weakness to be made strong in God. I think of you all the time. I pray for you. I hope for you - and anxiously await the arrival of "good news" whatever form it may take.

Today, as I was patting Levi to sleep, I discovered 10 mintues. After I let him cry for a few minutes, I go up, lay him down and then pat him. He is usually asleep in under 5 minutes. Almost always under 10. I've decided to use that quiet time to read a devotional & my bible, to refocus my day. It's the 10 minutes I've always wished I'd taken, but never have actually disciplined myself to do it.

Today, I was reading from Psalm 30:5 "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Waiting for Levi was so hard in some ways, and so good in others. We prayed for him, dreamed about what he'd look like, how he'd act, how he'd respond to us... My devotional today reminded me that everything grows in value as we wait. Christmas, sporting events, vacations...we dream about them, plan for them, and anticipate them. Can you imagine waking up and hearing "Christmas in 10 minutes!" ? Our enjoyment of the holiday is not just in the event itself, but in the anticipation. Isn't it so true? Looking back, I feel very much this way about all of my kids - birth and adopted. Waiting is hard, but it develops the longing that gets us through those tough first few weeks, this tantrums, and the hard days. Even with all the hard things - in all 3 cases, it was more than worth the wait! :)

I pray for you today, as you wait with anticipation!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Photo Link

For those of you looking for more pictures - this is the last 5 days or so at our house!

January 2009


I'm sitting down to write and I have so much to blog about, and yet so very little to say. Mostly, our family is feeling down. We have all been sick with Levi's cold. In fact, I think we are single handily keeping Puffs and Kleenex in business. We've been up at night with a certain little boy who for 2 of the last 3 nights felt as though 1 - 3 a.m. is "party time". Steve and I disagreed. Strongly.

I'll post photos in the next post - some of them are great from our NEW camera. We love it.

If you came to our house tonight, you'd notice the little clouds over each of us. Steve's facing trouble at work, I'm missing having him at home, Ben has to do homework and Ella doesn't get cake because she didn't eat dinner. Trouble, trouble, trouble. Trouble isn't just in our household - it's all around us. Job loss, the economy, cancer, illness, death and depression. There is so much to be thankful for, but somehow, trouble speaks louder than blessings sometimes.

The bible talks about trouble A LOT. God must have known that we would need lots of opportunities to hear truth about feeling down. My favorite verses come from 2 Corinthians 4:16 - 18. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Sleepless nights: Light and momentary
Job losses: Light and momentary
Sour Economy: Light and momentary
Pay cuts: Light and momentary
Problems with Friends: Light and momentary
Health Issues: Light and Momentary
Homework: Light and Momentary
Cake Loss: Light and Momentary

After meeting with God this evening, I am fixing my eyes on what is unseen: The molding of 3 beautiful children, God providing for our every need, hope for healing and relational restoration. Hope for a future not on this Earth. "Do not loose heart."

On an unrelated note, I'd like to tell you that I mopped my kitchen floor today. For those of you who follow my blog, you'll remember that the LAST time I mopped the floor was the day we received the good news of Levi coming (and YES that was almost 3 weeks ago between moppings!). I couldn't help but remember what a joyful day that was. It will always be a highlight in my life. Today's mopping was a necessity. Levi has spilled more Cheerios, grape pieces, yogurt, and crackers on my floor in the last 3 weeks than I could have imagined. Then again, there is a lot that I couldn't have imagined 3 weeks ago...