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Today is the last day of summer vacation here in Virginia.  Many of my friends’ children in other states have already started up the school year.  Personally, I love it that our kids wait until after Labor Day to head back to school.  Yes, it makes it harder at the end of the year when they are still going to classes in mid-June, but to me starting school in August is just too early.  As a kid , my late-August birthday still took place during the summer and I always cherished that.  It wasn’t until I got to college that I started celebrating my birthday after classes began.  And those are stories for a much different blog.

My oldest boy is beginning middle school this year.  Sixth grade.  Holy cow, where did the time go?  I did pretty well in school, and although I did deal with the occasional bully, I managed to sail through fairly unscathed thanks to some pretty awesome friends.  However, I do remember VERBATIM some of the insults lobbed against me when I was in sixth grade.  Middle school is hard for all kids.  I worry about the injustices my boy will experience when he enters the hallowed halls of his new school.  He is on the smaller side–what kinds of awful things will the other kids say to him?  He is also quite innocent–what kinds of awful things will he hear on the bus and in the locker room?  And how will he respond to them?  Every kid goes through this, I keep reminding myself.  But it doesn’t help me sleep at night.  I know that my sweet boy will change, as all kids do.  He will be come a teen with raging hormones and a driver’s license.  But for now I will enjoy the boy in front of me, who is excited about the new school year and yet still gives me unending hugs at bedtime.  I just pray that he will be able to hold onto some of his sweetness as he moves toward the teen years.

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This is a question I hear from Connor multiple times a day, most often after he’s been disciplined and is looking for reassurance.  It comes like clockwork, after the first post-time-out smile I direct at him:  “Are you happy, Mom?”  It reminds me of when my oldest son was Connor’s age, and used to tell me he loved me a dozen times a day.  However, it was evident that what he really craved was my reply: “I love you, too.”  It made me wonder…was my love for him not evident in our daily interactions?  Was I too impatient, was I missing those critical moments?  His constant need to hear me state my love for him eventually passed, but it was brought back to mind by Connor’s now-daily question.  And it has made me think–am I happy?  Once again, have I been too impatient with him, and am I yet again missing those critical moments in my son’s childhood?  Am I expecting too much of him, and in the process setting us both up for failure?  So for today, I will try to remember that he is still learning acceptable behavior, and that it is my job not only to teach him, but to model the very behavior I expect of him.  So how about you?  Are you happy, Mom?

Okay, I’m not going to address the length of time between this update and the last one. Except for that previous sentence. Moving on…

It’s taken several years, but I think I can finally admit to myself that we’re not going to have a daughter. Earlier in the year Tom and I went back and forth over the issue, and although we’d decided awhile ago that adoption wasn’t in our future, I still couldn’t let it go. I knew for a fact I didn’t want to be pregnant again, but I kept saying to myself, “if God dropped a baby in our laps…” Yeah, that didn’t happen. And if I’m being honest with myself, I am glad it didn’t. Connor is potty-trained (except for at night, but that doesn’t really count) and out of his crib, and we have officially moved beyond those baby years. You know, the years where you tote half your worldly possessions with you everywhere you go and you learn to operate on a few minutes’ sleep. Just thinking about going through all that again makes me…tired. Not excited, not yearning, just tired. And I’m okay with that. I have finally given myself permission to move beyond the desire for a daughter, and embrace my life as a mom of boys. A life full of Legos, baseball, Cub Scouts, fart jokes and skateboards. Is it too early to start praying that I’ll one day have a granddaughter?

First of all, I need to apologize for doing a horrible job of updating this site.  Especially since my last post centered around snow, and it’s now nearly June.  Yes, we’ve been busy, but it doesn’t take THAT long to type an update!  So here I am, attempting to play catch-up for the past few months.  Surprise, surprise–I have some news to pass on:

1.  Tom is retiring later this year, and he was offered a fantastic position with the Department of Commerce.  It will keep us in the DC area for at least a few more years, which surprisingly, doesn’t bother me all that much.  Now, if you’d asked me a year ago, I probably would have said that I’d rather have all my fingernails pulled out than remain in this area, but it’s amazing the effect a good community can have on a person.  That, and having some really great friends close by.  And that leads me to my second bit of news…

2.  We’re buying a house!  This has been a very nerve-wracking event for us.  Somehow we’ve managed to avoid buying a house all these years, and I now know why!  Between choosing a real estate agent, negotiating loan rates, searching for the right home (in the right school district and the right neighborhood…), etc., it’s enough to give someone a nervous breakdown.  But thankfully, God has been looking out for us.  Our agent is fantastic and said we’re the easiest clients he’s had all year–we literally walked into his office on a Monday afternoon and by Thursday we had a contract on a house.  The house itself is lovely and in a neighborhood chock-full of families, and the school is top-notch.  We are very excited about it, and are looking forward to making the move and becoming official homeowners!

So that’s about it for now.  I will post pictures of the house after we close and everything becomes official.  In the meantime, enjoy the warmer spring weather!

  Yes, the white stuff finally arrived at our house!  Our boys were getting very impatient, and truthfully, I was too.  It just doesn’t seem right that we had to wait until nearly February before we received any kind of measurable snowfall!  In fact, I only remember seeing snowflakes maybe once or twice this winter.  Ah, but all is forgiven now.  Our older boys were itching to get outside–I think they waited all of about a minute after I came downstairs before asking to go out, while still in their pajamas, no less.  I set about gathering their snowclothes and making sure everyone was adequately covered, and we all headed outside!  Our youngest son was less than impressed with the cold, white stuff, but the older two immediately set off in search of their sleds & snowshovels.  They even helped me shovel the driveway for a little while before the small hill in our front yard called them away.  Eventually they teamed up with some neighbor kids for a snowball fight, and all in all, it was a grand success.  Here’s a cute shot of my youngest two–as you can see, the little one was ready to get back inside!

Well, one of them was happy...

Well, one of them was happy...

 

  Our other big event of the past week was the Pinewood Derby.  Our oldest son is involved in Cub Scouts, and my husband (with rosy memories of Pinewood Derbies from his childhood) decided to volunteer to head up this year’s derby.  It all went well after  few small hiccups, but I don’t think he’ll be doing that again.  It was more time-consuming and involved more work than he expected, though he did admirably.  It’s no small feat to organize 68 cars and deal with a new track and temperamental computer software in the bargain.  The kids all had fun, though, as they always do!  Our son finished 19th overall, and we are so proud of his accomplishment!  He was 4th in his age group, which he found a bit disappointing because he just missed out on a trophy.  I somehow managed not to get a picture of him with his car, but here’s a few shots, and you can put two and two together:

I took this shot right after he took a big bite of his donut...

I took this shot right after he took a big bite of his donut...

 

The yellow car is ours!  The paint got a bit scratched after the practice runs, but our son was just thrilled that his Lego driver stayed on!

The yellow car is ours! The paint got a bit scratched, but at least the Lego driver stayed on!

 

All in all, everyone had a great time, though I think my husband is glad we have a whole year until the next one!

There are so many things we don’t even think about on a daily basis.  Take for example the heat in the house.  Yes, I noticed that some of the windows seemed a bit drafty and the fireplace leaks cold air like a sieve, but I never really worried about the house retaining heat.  That is, until we had a horrible cold snap a few days ago, and the temps didn’t get out of the teens during the day (nights were in the single digits).  Yes, that is cold.  Colder than one would expect for this area.  But our house could handle it, right?  Not so much.  When we woke up a couple of days ago, the temperature inside the house was 54 degrees (this is with the thermostat set at 68, and the heat going nonstop), and it never got out of the 50s during the day.  Our littlest son’s hands and feet were like ice all day long, because he has the misfortune of being rather close to the ground, and therefore spends most of his time down where the air is the coldest.  The air coming out of the vents is only lukewarm, definitely not hot enough to actually warm the house, especially with a leaky fireplace and drafty windows to contend with.

Thankfully, we have awesome landlords.  We called them on Saturday morning and they immediately contacted someone in the area to come check our furnace and heat pump.  They won’t be here until tomorrow morning, but we’re doing okay thanks to a few strategically-placed space heaters and a nice, thick layer of plastic taped over the worst of the windows.  But oh, after this series of events, I hope I never take the heat for granted again!

  Last week was a trying one for our family.  That nasty stomach virus hit our family hard, with the two older boys out for the count (the oldest even got an all-expense-paid trip to the ER for his efforts).  I hope to never have all three boys sick at once, as just two of them wore me out!  In addition, we got the stunning news that Tom was not selected for promotion.  We had truly expected that he would be picked up–why wouldn’t he?  It came as a shock not only to us, but to our family, friends and Tom’s co-workers as well.  So we’re now faced with the reality of retirement–thankfully Tom has reached 20 years and can retire as early as summertime.  But where does that leave us?

  With all these upcoming changes to our life, I decided it was time to rename my blog.  It was time for me to face the reality that we will not be completing an adoption.  I see now why God chose to close the door to our adoption a few months ago–the nervousness I feel at the prospect of my husband retiring from the military is nothing compared to the sheer panic I would be dealing with if we were also faced with the dilemma of financing an adoption (international or domestic).  However, it is hard to finally let go of that dream.  We may still choose to try and conceive a girl ourselves, but I’m the first to admit that the chances are good that we’ll end up with four boys.  Truthfully, that prospect doesn’t scare me all that much.  The idea that I would be disappointed with a boy scares me more–I would never want my child to bear the burden of knowing that we wanted a girl but ended up with another boy instead.  So it will take some more soul-searching before I determine whether I’m ready to take that leap or not.  In the meantime, I will do my best to keep our family & friends updated on our comings and goings as well as life’s little quirks here at XY Central!

  We added a new pet to our family!  About four years ago, our beloved Greyhound passed away, and since then I’ve wanted to bring home another one.  However, circumstances and frequent moves didn’t make it practical, so I bided my time.  A couple of months ago, Tom gave me the green light to start looking at local rescue groups.  I found Greyt Expectations, who operate in the MD/DC/VA/DE areas.  We went to one of their Meet-n-Greet functions (where volunteers bring their Greyhounds out to a local pet store or other location, to answer questions and educate people about Greyhounds), and the boys were enthralled with the lovely dogs they had on-hand!  They would have loved to take one of those dogs home, and we had to explain that those dogs all had homes already.  But the seed had been planted, and the boys were as eager as I was to bring a Greyhound into our home!

  After contacting Greyt Expectations and filling out their application, we were quickly approved, and their dog matcher set himself to the task of finding the right hound for our family.  They are staffed entirely by volunteers, so we knew it might take a little while.  In mid-December we were invited to come out to meet some of their dogs, along with some other families.  They had several of their foster dogs available, as well as a few that had come straight from the racetrack.  We met with three lovely dogs, and quickly decided on Vinny (who we renamed Jasper).  He is a sweet, laid-back dog who has been in a home already and knows the ins and outs of being with a family.  He’s a big boy at 80lbs, and is white with red markings.  We all fell in love with him immediately!  We brought him home with us that afternoon, and we’re all enjoying having a dog in our family again.  Well, everyone except the cats, that is–they were supremely unhappy at first!  However, Jasper showed himself to be a gentleman with the cats, and they are slowly getting used to him.  Here are some pictures I took during his first week home with us:

Jasper enjoying some downtime on his pillow--with his favorite toy

Jasper enjoying some downtime on his pillow--with his favorite toy

Ian and Justin walking to school with their new dog!

Ian and Justin walking to school with their new dog!

  Jasper is adjusting well to life in our house.   We look forward to getting him up to the baseball field near our house to watch him really run!

It’s taken me awhile to get to this point.  To where I’m okay posting that our adoption journey is over for now.  And I am okay with it, though the whole thing still makes me very sad.  As I posted before, Korea declined to work with us, and although we really wanted to make our agency’s Russia program work, in the end it was just too expensive.  I believe we could have done it, but finances would have been very tight in our house, especially now with the economy the way it is.  We requested information packets from several domestic agencies, but had a similar problem–the agencies that gave us the most say in the process were the most expensive, and there were too many unknowns (birthmother expenses, legal fees, etc.).  We could have gone with an agency that relies solely on the birthmother choosing her adoptive family, but realistically we wouldn’t expect to be chosen very soon: statistically, birthmothers tend to choose younger parents (Tom is 40 and that’s generally believed to be the cutoff for many birthmoms) without any other children.  Plus, since we specifically wanted a girl, that could have potentially been a turnoff for many birthmothers.

I did contact CCAI again, to ask if Tom’s ADD would be an issue for China.  The answer was no, it would not be an issue, and we could proceed with a Chinese adoption if we chose.  That was a very hard one for me.  The wait time for China is stretching longer and longer, and I believe that if we decided to go through with it, we could realistically expect to wait at least four years.  That would make Tom nearly 45, and he is just not comfortable with that.  We could pursue a special-needs adoption, which could shorten the wait time significantly.  However, Tom and I have both prayed extensively over this adoption, and neither one of us believes we are supposed to adopt a special-needs child.  So as difficult as it was for me to admit, it appeared we were out of options.  Yes, there are other countries out there, but we don’t want to disrupt the birth order in our family, which means we’d want to adopt as young a girl as possible.  We just didn’t see any other viable options for us.

  Interestingly, once we made our final decision after talking with CCAI, I became much more at peace about everything.  It was as though CCAI was our last remaining option, and once we decided not to pursue it, I was finally able to let it go, believing that I had exhausted all of our current options.  As sorrowful as this whole thing makes me feel, I also feel somewhat as though a weight has been lifted–the weight of the heartache of going back and forth, over and over again. 

  We may try again to have our girl the old-fashioned way.  Even so, we would wait another six months or so to start trying to conceive, so we don’t have two children under the age of two.  I have mixed feelings about it, after everything I went through with Connor’s delivery (which is a story for another day).  But I still believe that God is waiting to give us a girl, and maybe this is the way he always intended to do it.  We’ll see how we feel next summer.  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the three tremendous blessings God has given us already, while holding onto the dream of just one more.

It is with a heavy heart that I update this blog.  We got a call from our agency late last week notifying us that the Korean agency they work with declined to accept us.  They don’t want to work with a family where one of the parents has been diagnosed with ADD, even when it is as mild as Tom’s condition.  Our agency rep, Abbe, was sympathetic, but I was crushed and it was a hard weekend for all of us.  I’m still not sure how to process all of this.  I spoke with our agency again today, and Abbe assured me that although there is no way to appeal this decision, there are other programs that could work for us.  However, Tom and I took a look at CHSFS’ other international programs this weekend, and for various reasons, we don’t feel comfortable with any of them. 

  So we are turning our sights towards domestic adoption.  We’ve been hesitant to do any serious research into it before, because we truly felt called towards an international adoption, and Korea fit so well into our lives.  I’ve requested information from a few domestic agencies, and we’ll see what they have to say.  I’m a little apprehensive about how some agencies will react to Tom being in the military and the fact that we already have three children, but I know there are good agencies out there that will work with us.  At times this all seems so overwhelming–I truly believed that this research phase was behind us for good!  I’m still very saddened by the outright rejection from the Korean agency, and I find it frustrating and confusing.  How can they ignore our obvious connection to their country?  How can they agree to work with people with minor criminal backgrounds, but refuse a stable, loving family where one of the parents just happens to have a mild concentration issue?  I doubt I’ll ever understand.  I will just keep praying that we have the perserverance and strength to continue on this quest for a daughter.