Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I haven't written anything in so long, it feels overwhelming to even begin again. Tonight though, I can't seem to get this venue for my thoughts out of my mind. When that familiar little voice repeats itself over and over, through experience, I've learned to listen. Now, if only it would tell me what I'm supposed to be writing!

Perhaps a quick update, because let's be honest, I've written so little for years, if I went into detail, I'm sure that post could be published as a novel....longer than War and Peace.

Andy's almost finished with second grade at the charter school. It went better and worse than we'd hoped, so....pretty much true to life. I've struggled with his teacher this year. She is firm with Andy, which is great, but she doesn't listen during parent teacher conferences. So, when I tell her that Andy is very, very self-conscious and tender hearted, that he cannot do more than two or three steps in a series of instructions at a time, that 5 hours of homework per week is simply TOO MUCH, she hears that she needs to try pre-set Plan B that works with all of her other children. We finally were able, after 6 months of insisting and repeatedly asking his teacher, then emailing the school counselor, his teacher, and the principal, to get a 504 approved to help him. We are still fighting for a behavioral IEP. Along the way, it seems that people who have experience with this process have appeared in our lives just when we need it. I had a patient with teenagers with ADHD and ODD, also adopted soon after birth, that had loads of information about the IEP and 504 process, how to advocate for my child, and exactly what to ask for....because they've been there also. Combined with our stellar family nurse practitioner, Heather, we are on he right track. I can't help but find the irony.....things are finally lining up just so....with 2 more weeks of school left.

Olivia is 4 years old. She has an imaginary friend (often a baby she cares for) named Sammie. Sammie comes to play every single day while Andy is at school, but never when Andy is home. She is in the 68th percentile for height and back on the growth charts for weight, coming in at 28th percentile. Considering 2 years ago, we were taking her to Primary Children's Outpatient Nutrition Clinic because she was off the charts (below) and a permanent feeding tube appeared to be in her future, I am in awe. The phrase we hear most is, "Mama, I hungeee." You know, followed closely by "I snugg-o you, pyeeeeease?"

We are raising very strong-willed children. Some days, it truly confound me how they can be so stubborn one minute, then sooooo sweet and tender the next. I'm so grateful for their strong personalities; They'll make wonderful leaders and free-thinkers....gosh, they both already are. My goal is to merely balance the strong-will with equal amounts of empathy and humility. Easier said than done.

I'm working again. Nights. I was able to be hired as my new hospital, Mountain Point Medical Center opened it's doors almost 1 year ago next month. I'm glad I've been able to stick it out, because there have definitely been some hard times there....lots of staff quit pretty early on. High turn over since. It feels good to be nursing again....it is addicting. I crave it....starting IV's, acting Charge RN on busy shifts and juggling my patients plus assignments, catching symptoms early, treating emergent situations, and the feeling I have, even after rough shifts, as I drive home in the morning. It is a mixture of adrenaline, satisfaction, and sheer exhaustion. Balancing work has been much easier than I expected. I work a pretty regular schedule: Thursday, Friday, Saturday every week. Mom Barger watches the kids on Friday, JJ is with them on Saturday....so no daycare at all. I am getting to the point where I'll be glad to drop a shift a week and go to a part time status whenever the status change is approved.

JJ is still at Zion's Bank downtown. His job changes so, so much, there is no way I can share all of his stories. He works with some interesting people. He works 2 buildings over from his Dad's office, so a highlight of his week is going to lunch with his Dad. Dad and Mom Barger have been our saving grace so much the past 2 years. The greatest thing about moving to Utah is being close to them. JJ and I had some rough times last year. We chose to seek counseling to help us learn better communication, coping skills, and how to be better humans to each other. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I can honestly, confidently state that every single couple should attend counseling at some point in their marriage. I am so grateful for Dad and Mom Barger encouraging and supporting us as we attended weekly sessions, they cared for our children, listened with great empathy, and loved us through the weeks we'd come home with tear-stained cheeks. I don't know how we got so lucky with parents and in-laws...my parents have been just as wonderful also. I've felt their prayers, strength, and relied on their wisdom often.

JJ and I returned home today from a "staycation" in downtown Salt Lake City. We celebrated our 13th year of marriage. 13th anniversary. Holy crap. That makes me sound so old! In theory, if we hadn't miscarried, we would have a 12, almost 13 year old child right now (technically, we'd have a 12, almost 13 year old, a 10 year old, our 8 year old Andy, a 5 year old, our 4 year old Olivia, and a 2 year old....just saying that brings a little of that sadness and grief back). Wow. It was a beautiful weekend though, relaxing, fun, and just great to be with him....alone. I showered alone and peed alone for 2 full days. I slept past 6 and 7 am two days in a row. Ahh....the lowering of standards that parenting creates, lol. :)

Anyway, we are well, we are getting our home study completed, hoping to adopt one, last, final time. Life is good! Here are some recent family photos. :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Little Man Goes to Second Grade

Name: Andrew Justice

First Day of Second Grade: August 17, 2015

Teacher: Mrs. Nelson

Favorite Color: Blue, Yellow, and Red

Favorite TV Show: Transformer's Prime

Favorite Movie: Big Hero 6 and the Penguins of Madagascar

Favorite Breakfast: Peach Oatmeal and Breakfast Burritos

Favorite Lunch: PB & H sandwiches

Favorite Dinner: "Not broccoli, Mom makes it too much." 

Favorite Book: Frozen (4th grade reader)

Favorite Letters: "Mom, they're just letters. I don't have a favorite."

Favorite Number: 100! It is the coolest of all the numbers!

Favorite People: Olivia, Daddy, Mommy, Grammy, Grampy, Baba, Bibi, Dillon, and my cousins. I love everyone!

What do you want to be when you grow up? An engineer or a transformer or a superhero.

What else do you want to remember about today, Andy? "I'm going to a new charter school in Lehi. I'm worried about making friends. My new school is so big and smells good though."

First Grade Answers and Photo
Kindergarten Answers and Photo

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

If my child is yours also.....

I recently read a beautifully written blog post, "If my child marries yours," written from one mother, speaking to another mother. Not just any random mother though, she writes specifically to the mother of the child that HER child will marry in the future. It left me so speechless and inspired within my heart that the overflow my my heart leaked out my eyes. Then, my wheels and cogs in my brain began spinning. I pray that she won't be mad that I used her post, original idea, a few phrases, and her writing style as inspiration and applied it to our adoption situation; hopefully she will feel honored and touched by my writing. I'd like to dedicate this to our son's birthmother, our daughter's entire birth family, and hopefully two more people out there that will come to be a part of our family through adoption...we already pray for you and love you!

If my child is yours also...

I just want you to know that I'm praying for you. 

I've prayed for you since the moment I knew in my heart that adoption was for me. I was 17 years old.

When I'm awake at night - feeding the baby, burping the baby, giving tylenol and ibuprofen to a feverish toddler, changing bedding covered in the entire day's meals, turning off Alvin the Betta fish's tank light- I think of you. Because chances are, you're awake also, but you're probably missing all these little things that you've allowed me to do for our child. I'm taking care of this beautiful tiny child that I love so much my heart could burst at any second, and I'm cherishing and carefully filing away every single detail into memories, as much as I possibly can, because I know that not so long ago, you felt this little heart that is beating against my chest tonight, beating against your chest.

I'm praying that you'll know how diligently I try to stand firm against the pressures to overcommit and hyper-schedule, and to completely ignore the voices that tell me I'm not doing enough, that our child isn't doing enough. I pray that you'll stand firm when ignorant, cold people judge your choice to place your child in our family, and you'll look them in the eye with your heart of gold and know that no matter what they think or say, your choice is enough, you are enough. 

I'm praying you'll have the wisdom to know when teach those around you about the beauty that adoption can be, just as I try to also. That your words will open their minds and soften their hearts, and they will leave your presence a better, kinder person because of how you taught them with such poise, love, and kindness. Their humanity will be so greatly increased because of your efforts. I pray with my entire soul that when you must walk away from those that just cannot understand your decision to place your child, you will walk away with integrity, confidence, your head held high, and a clear and firm knowledge that their words do not define you, your heart does. You won't be able to inspire and change everyone.

I'm praying that you will know how much your Heavenly Father and your Savior love you. So completely. They love every single cell in your body, they love every personality trait you have (and have given to our child), they love your pure heart, your kind heart, your bold heart, your shy heart, your angry heart, your broken heart, and your flaws. So do I. They are my favorite things about you, they make you a real person, not a plastic, perfect, fake barbie. I'm flawed and broken also. I pray you'll remember that I will most certainly make mistakes, probably often, throughout the years. Please know that I'll always wonder if I've done something not good enough when we don't hear from you. My brain and heart know you'll probably need time and space to cope and process on your rough days and weeks, but I'll always worry about you. And our relationship. I pray you'll kindly teach me how to do better and forgive my flaws, shortcomings, and mistakes as I come to you to ask forgiveness when I make mistakes.

I'm praying that, if you haven't, you will find love. I pray that when you tell that person that you once experienced an unplanned pregnancy and chose to give that child life, love, and placed them in our family, I pray that person will see the overwhelming beauty of your choice. I pray they will see the strength it took to do so, that they will see the heart break you've experienced because of it, and they will know that you deserve so much better than they will ever be able to give you. In our eyes, only the purest, most loyal, kind, forgiving, accepting, man will be worthy of you. We expect that man to treat you like a freaking Goddess. I pray that your love together brings years of commitment into your marriage, commitment that will swell with each year you're together, that you will grow to love the legacy you are creating just as much as you adore the person you're creating it with. I pray that legacy includes our child, because they are and all ways will be a part of you.

I'm praying that you take lots of pictures of the children you'll have with your spouse, that someday, when we're old, gray, and grandmothers, that we'll sit together looking at pictures of our children (yours, mine, and ours!), laughing at the memories, and pointing out where our grandchildren got their sticky-out ears, their mischievous grins, their mood eyes, and their adorable dimpled cheeks.

As Em stated, "I'm praying that Jesus will give you just enough strength each day to keep you from losing it but not so much that you forget Who that strength comes from."

I'm praying that we will be friends, but also that we'll be much closer than friends. I'm praying you'll know that "friends" is the stupidest term for what I pray our relationship is and has the potential to become. Right now, I regard you as a sister, because it is the closest definition that can define our relationship.... even then, what I feel for you doesn't have a description in existence yet. When you're having a rough day, I pray that you'll remember how much I love you, how much WE love you, and that you'll remember how important your presence is in our lives, our child's life, and our family. 

Will you pray for me also? 

I am so terrified of not living up to what I think you wanted for your child before we met. I know you wanted the best, and some days, I don't feel like I'm doing anything remotely right, let alone "the best!" I feel like I should somehow be better, perfect, and this superhuman mother. Please pray that I won't forget my own humanity and that I'll be able to remember that real people make mistakes and struggle and try again the next day. 

I also pray for our child, continually. I pray that we will know how to raise him in a way that will bring you peace, joy, and honor that decision to place him/her in our family. But chances are, your child, who is so much like you, will be just fine. And chances are, a lot of the time, you aren't. Chances are, if you're anything like me, you're very tired. And some days, you get so discouraged and miss this little one. I hear that birthmothers never heal from the loss they experience as a result of their decision. Sometimes, you cry yourself to sleep and your throat becomes tight as your arms ache for them. You grieve the millions of moments that you gave to us; first day of school, piano concerts, kissing scraped knees from learning to ride a bicycle, fighting with siblings, rocking them in the middle of the night and serenading nightmares away with lullabies. The emails, texts, and pictures we send of every "first" is bittersweet, as are the times you spend in our home (and us in yours), celebrating birthdays and holidays. As adoptive parents, we can only imagine these heart breaks you feel, but know we pray for you and do our best to feel empathy and to respect you as you need time and space to cope with your loss. I pray you'll feel how desperately I wish I could bear these burdens with you or some how have them removed from your mind and heart because of how much I love you and want for your life to be beautiful and happy. I pray that you'll know how much I love seeing you enjoying life and the beauty you create in our family with your presence. So it's you I am praying for right now, in the still darkness, with this baby fist pressed up under my chin and this sweet, sleepy breath on my ear. May you feel these prayers and love when you need them the most.

We are in this together, you and I (and the hubbies). We are building something beautiful with each onesie folded, each cuddle given, each trampoline flip contest, each slobbery "miss" (kiss) and "mooch" (smooch), each visit and Skype session, each step forward, each birthday and holiday, each email and phone call, and each time we tell our part of our adoption stories.

You don't know how much it means to me that you give your life everything you have, every single day...even on days when it's not much at all. Because our child gets that from you. And you both inspire me. Our child will fall, will make mistakes, will question where he gets his fiery spirit, her mood eyes, her quiet, shyness when meeting new people for the first time, and where they get their sheer will and courage to do hard things. There will be days when they'll just need to talk to you, to feel your strength and love. I want you to be there when our first grandchild is born; we'll celebrate together. And when they face the darkest days of their lives, it will be you, me, and our spouses, praying with every ounce of faith we have in our bodies that our child will come through this struggle with more life experience and as an even better, stronger, wiser person.

I promise to tend to these hearts with utmost care, to plant in them humility and peace and unconditional love for all people and selflessness...especially selflessness. I promise to teach them about Jesus and Heavenly Father every chance I get. And I promise to keep praying for you and to teach them to pray for you also.

I promise you that I will hug our little one tight when he's sad or lonely or scared or hurt, once for me, and once as a "temporary hug" for you until you can give them your "permanent hug" yourself next time we see you. Because someday, this little one - all grown beautiful with babies of their own - will be sad or lonely or scared. And they'll need to know how to hold their babies. Teach them. And have all these saved up hugs to give them. In that moment, BOTH of our love will matter.

But until then, I'm sitting here in the dark with this baby in my arms.

And I'm praying for you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Grader!

Name: Andrew Justice

First Day of First Grade: August 19, 2014

Teacher: Miss Hahn

Favorite Color: Blue, Yellow, and Red

Favorite TV Show: Mickey Mouse Cartoons

Favorite Movie: Frozen and Epic

Favorite Breakfast: Cereal or Pancakes

Favorite Lunch: Ramen

Favorite Dinner: Spaghetti or Basagna

Favorite Book: Frozen (4th grade reader)

Favorite Letters: A. N. D. Y. (Mommy laughed hard)

Favorite Number: 100! It is the coolest of all the numbers!

Favorite People: Olivia, Daddy, Mommy, Grammy, Grampy, Baba, Bibi, and my cousins. I love everyone!

What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor and a Daddy!

What else do you want to remember about today, Andy? I'm going to ALL DAY school! I'm excited for more than one recess and excited to show all my friends that I lost FOUR teeth over summer break. I'm excited to meet my new teacher and friends too. I get to start piano lessons next month and my first soccer game is THIS Saturday!

Last year's photo and questions.


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