Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eighteen months old

Can it be that eighteen months has passed since we were given the gift of becoming your parents? From the moment you were born you had a passion, a spirit, a light and a determination that was evident to everyone around you. Your first minutes were very scary, and as we look back now, eighteen months later, we can't imagine what would have happened had we not been able to be your Dad and Mom. There were some major angels guiding you into this world. You had trouble getting eating down your first three months and have spent the fifteen months that have followed making up for lost time. You love food! We are so very blessed to be your parents and excited that you got to celebrate your 18th month on this Earth halfway across the world. Turkey!

Here are some highlights of your life:
  • You have been to the following states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, New York. Fourteen! Strong work little man.
  • You have been to the following countries: U.S. and Germany and Turkey. Many more to come we are sure!
  • You currently are attempting new sounds and words everyday. You don't say specific words a whole lot but you say that beginning part of a lot of words. You also say the following words very clearly: car, ball, Mama, Dada, Papa, Di, Bub-bub (for Scrubs), go, Isaac (comes out a bit funny), Elijah, thank you and probably a few others I am just not thinking of right now. (I'm jet lagged and so are you.)
  • You make the signs for: thank you, please, bath, milk, pacifier, night-night, more, water, froggie (your favorite item to sleep with).
  • You know where all your major body parts are and will point to them and say the first syllable of many of them.
  • You love music and you love to dance. You do the "crazy dance" and "crazy walk" anytime you are asked.
  • You love to try and jump. Unfortunately, you are yet to get any air time.
  • You have completely recovered from the neck issues you had during your first nine months of life. Your head is still big, but it's mighty cute. :)
  • If you are asked: What movie do you want to watch, you answer CARS! as loudly as you can over and over and over again.
  • You love Mickey Mouse.
  • You love TV. LOVE IT! As soon as we offer to put it on, you climb up onto the couch, a look of incredible excitement on your face.
  • You really love nearly all foods although you don't seem very interested in junk food. Since you are healthy (a Turkish gal called you this yesterday), we don't push the sweets for you either. You especially love bananas right now.
  • Your love to read books.
  • You also love to play with your cars. You will pick up a handful of them and then climb up onto a chair to drive them on a table. Then you'll relocate to an end table. And then somewhere else.
  • You love to give "love." Tonight you hugged our new friend Jim and wouldn't let go. You will say "thank you" and give hugs and kisses all the time. You aren't afraid of strangers. You prefer Mommy over everyone else (lucky me!) and Daddy second.
  • You like to run and hide when we ask you to get your diaper changed.
  • You love wearing your boots all around the house.
  • You struggled with listening for a few months there but are really doing a good job following directions and understanding nearly anything we say. While you are active, you will sit and read books or watch a movie for long stretches of time.
  • You have zero fear of bugs or animals of any sort. You'll dive right in to investigate nature including leaves, flowers, and bugs.
  • You sometimes get a little rough with animals or other kids but we really think you are just trying to show them that you like them. As soon as we remind you to be gentle, you give hugs and kisses.
  • You love to wrestle and play tent -- the rougher the better in your mind.

We love you Elijah Luke. Thank you Lord for giving us the opportunity to see you grow up into the little boys you are becoming.

Images of our new "home"

Our house. It's a duplex. We are the one on the right.

The playground (viewed from our street). I have a great view of it from our driveway.

I can't get youtube to load here. I have heard a rumor that it is not accessible in Turkey. So I am going with yahoo for now. Let's see how this works.

Saturday snips

While our TLF is built a lot like houses in the U.S., there are some noticeable differences. Firstly, you flush the toilet by pulling a nob from the top of the toilet up. It's taken some getting used to. In addition, there is a small room with a toilet in it. Then there is another small room with a shower in it. Then the sinks are in our bedroom. A bit strange. Secondly, our washer is a Turkish washer. It has incredibly complicated directions which include, and I do not jest: "Do not open the door until 1 minute has lapsed upon completion of cycle or door will break and you will have to pay $15." Seriously. It is also incredibly loud. Every time it spins it sounds like a jet engine is preparing to land.

We ended up waking up the boys this morning around 9:30am to try and get them on somewhat of a schedule. We then took a field trip to the Thrift Store (closed), library (closed), post office (closed), BX (open -- very small Kmart-like store but will all the basics that we need) and the Commissary (open -- this is the grocery on Base which again, is very small but will be able to meet our basic needs.)

During our time out I realized a few things:
  • We are going to see a lot of people we know on a Base this small. We ran into Nick, ran into one of the guys JB will be working with, and one of the baggers asked us if we were new. It's a very small world.
  • Turkish people do love children as I was warned about repeatedly from people who had been to this Base. I am glad I was warned about this or it may have completely freaked me out. American men, on the whole, express very little interest in children, unless the children are their children. But Turkish men are very different. This may seem creepy, but it really isn't. Somehow it is a comfortable feeling. It seems so genuine and caring. Our cashier, who was Turkish, ran his fingers through Elijah's hair, squeezed his cheeks, and gave him five. Elijah wasn't too sure about the hair thing but was totally okay with the rest of it. He then turned to Isaac who after initial concern about this pinch-grabbing thing, seemed to warm to it. Probably because he was hoping a lollipop was involved again.
  • It is incredibly, horribly, beastly hot. I know I am from South Florida and lived in North Florida and spent time in Kentucky, but this just feels so much hotter. So very, very hot. The good this is that they apparently get cooler a lot faster than South Florida does in the fall. So here's waiting for that! Our little rental car is, well, little, and the air seems to sound like it is blowing very loudly but be far from that.
  • There is something freeing, at least right now, about being limited as to choices. We went to the BX to get the boys some "new cars" as we had promised them there would be "new cars" in Turkey. The selection was slim but adequate. However, there was not this feeling of "Hmmm ... I wonder if I could get a better deal at WalMart or Target." It was like, here are the choices, take them or leave them. I liked the way that that felt.
  • Dogs are very welcome. Apparently the Base pool does a "Dog day" once a month where they let dogs swim in the pool. While it says they have to be off-leash, everyone has told me that they don't. It just seems like a happy place for Scrubs -- although all these new smells have him quiet curious. He seems comfortable, albeit a bit limited on space, in our TLF. He has to be kennelled when we leave (hotel rule) but is out the rest of the time and has taken over a chair in the living (per our permission.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

A late breakfast (and other musings)

There is so much on my mind I barely know where to start. So, I have thus decided to start with food. Food is a universal topic so this should go well. Hopefully.

Please forgive this post. I fear rambling will result. So many words are flying across the windows of my mind. I have so much I want to share. So much I want to say. It is a jumble of emotions and thoughts and feelings.

I'll do my best to make this coherent.

Above is Elijah and one of his favorite things. Food. We got in around 9pm on Thursday evening. (This is Turkish time which is 7 hours ahead of you all in EST. That is 8 hours ahead of you in CST and so forth.) At 11:30 the next morning both boys were still asleep! Since we put them down in the second bedroom of our small but very adequate TLF (it has a laundry room, bathroom, kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms) we were especially surprised that neither one of them woke the other up in the course of well over twelve hours of sleep.

We got Elijah up first and JB already had food ready for him. Both boys slept a lot on the flights, which was a blessing. But neither of them ate an incredible amount. So we knew they would wake up hungry. And hungry they were. Elijah took to the peaches on the plate above like a fiend. Isaac came in soon after and devoured the grapes.

By the time we woke the boys up, JB had already done a bunch of errands on Base. He stopped at the public library which he said was quite adequate with a lot of resources on Turkey and for kids. He got our house keys. And he stopped by the BX (that's the Kmart-like store on Base) and the Commissary (grocery.) He said both are small but quite sufficient.

John is especially blown away by what you can grow here. It is a Mediterranean climate so there are roses and fruit trees everywhere. It is still quite brown, but quite exciting growing-wise. JB can't wait to get started in this area.

From a late breakfast, we went and saw our new house. It is, to put it lightly, amazing. Firstly, there is a two-car carport. Since we only have one car, it appears most people use the other side as sort of a covered front porch with tables, chairs, and toys scattered around. Bikes are everywhere and being as the Base is so secure, nothing is locked up. There is also a storage room outside. Inside is the first floor which includes a half bathroom (with cabinets galore), two dining areas, a massive laundry room, a sprawling kitchen, and a living room. There are also sliding glassed doors that lead out to a fenced in backyard. Even better is that there is a grassy area to the side of the yard that I think I can use to play Frisbee with Scrubs.

On the second floor there is a massive storage closet and linen closet. Then there are 4 bedrooms. One will be our's and includes a full bathroom with huge tub and double sinks (a first for us!) There is another full bathroom in the hall. Then there are 3 bedrooms. The boys will share one. The other two are still up for debate. We think we know which one we are going to use for the boys but we haven't quite worked through all of that yet.

I will try to take pictures of the house early next week and share them on the blog with more details later. Let me just say, in summary, that the house is everything I could possibly want and more. Tons of closets and storage. Tons of space. We are in need of nothing. Praise the Lord. It is quite awesome.

There is a family that lives next door with four children. The mother was not home, but I met the kids. They ranged in age from a three-year-old boy to a twelve-year-old girl. That was exciting since a three-year-old could play with our boys and twelve-year-old might babysit. Ha!

After we picked our house, we went over to Kristy's. Nick came home from lunch. How cool is that? JB coming home for lunch? Awesome) Since everyone only has one car, Nick bikes to work. Everything is within walking distance on this Base. It's very small. The only deterrent is the heat. It's beastly hot right now so that can keep people from walking places.

Nick and Kristy helped us regroup and set up what we were going to get accomplished the rest of the afternoon. We left Isaac with Kristy and borrowed their Prius. It only had one car seat in it, so we opted to take Elijah since he was the crabbier one. We went to housing where I picked out our rental furniture and JB signed a bunch more papers.

Nick and Kristy's son Noah is right inbetween our two boys age-wise. He will be two in August. He talks very well and is littler than both our boys height-wise. But he wears the same size diaper. Such a cutie!

The people who worked in housing were a mixture of people. Some were Turkish people who spoke fantastic English. Another was an American woman, probably the spouse of someone on Base. Another gal was a 6'1" British gal who is married to an active-duty guy and hoping to adopt. She gave me the name of a tailor in "the alley" who could make me appropriate clothing for venturing off-Base. Way cool!

This British gal was actually the second woman I met on our trip in the adoption phase. Another was a woman with a dog on our flight to Germany. Sharing our adoption/biological story really helped open the doors so that both these women felt comfortable sharing their own journeys with me.

From there, I took Elijah back to the TLF to get some rest. JB went to the post office to see if the packages we have been mailing to ourselves for a month were there. The post office was closed so he got temporary gate passes for us, picked up Isaac, and headed back to TLF. I don't think leaving Isaac at this early-stage of the game was the best decision. Kristy said he was fine but that he definitely missed Mommy. She said he was quite confused and cried for me quite a bit.

Overall the boys are doing well but are definitely more sensitive then they usually are. They cry easier and are clingier. They are definitely feeling the stress but handling it marvelously well. I think the hardest thing as a parent is to know what battles to fight when they are obviously not themselves. Do you push the things you normally push? For instance, our family rule is that you must say "no thank you" and not just "no." Isaac normally dose this with tremendous ease but he has no interest in saying the whole thing right now. How much do you try to enforce and how much do you try to let go until they are in better spirits? I think we are just floating somewhere in the middle right now.

At 6pm we met Nick and Kristy at our hotel and went off-Base for dinner. This is where life got interesting.

The Base itself reminds me a lot of Eglin in its coloring. Most of the buildings are brown and, in general, the area just feels brown because of the climate. Incirlik is a Turkish Air Force Base. The Americans occupy a section of it. There is therefore a mixing of Turkish servicemen (who look Turkish and also wear blue camo) and American servicemen. The main difference on the Base, to me, is that there are lots of roses and flowers and fruit trees. Most everyone on Base hires a gardener (it is sort of expected). These gardeners take great care of the work they do around Base. Most everyone hires a housekeeper as well. This, I definitely plan to do.

Surrounding the Base is thick wires. When you get close to the Base outskirts, you sort of feel like you are in a jail. There are towers and men guarding the perimeters. I was not prepared for how thick the security surrounding the Base would be. As we exited, they checked our papers quite intensely. And then, the moment we went through the gate, we were in a whole new world.

The area surrounding the gate is called "the alley." This is a place that caters to the servicemen who live on Base. There are many young men and women, single or travelling "unaccompanied" who live in the dorms on Base. The alley is their "mall." People who work there speak very good English and offer meals on their menu like the "Joe Montana Special."

Base is incredibly safe. For any of you desiring to come and visit me, if you chose, you could stay on Base the entire time and barely be aware, aside from the civilian Turkish people who worked on Base, that you were even in another country. It is that isolated and controlled. It is the type of place that children walk around by themselves and go to the park and don't lock up their belongings. I would venture to say that the crime on Base is probably not existent.

But off-Base, everything changes and you are suddenly thrust into an entirely different environment. I was only off-Base just across the street since we chose not to go far with how jet-lagged we all were.

Here are some things I observed during our first two hours off-Base:
  • Air-conditioning is not the norm. It is a luxury. They sat us in front of an AC unit, but most of the restaurant did not have this.
  • The people are incredibly kind. Some speak English very well. Others just adequately. The restaurant owner was an incredible funny guy. He came with fake ketchup and pretended to spill it all over JB. Then he did the same thing with some hot tea.
  • Children are adored in Turkey. They are loved and appreciated. Nick said that most restaurants have a play area for the kids during dinner. In fact, our boys wandered around throughout dinner and no one cared. Men, especially, love children, and in an entirely appropriate way. They find children to be a great gift and not a nuisance when going out. Kristy said that she has given up trying to keep Noah in a high chair during dinner since he has grown so accustomed to being passed around during the meal. Lollipops were also brought out following dinner to Isaac and Elijah's great delight! While Elijah would shake anyone's hand who asked, Isaac was more guarded. But even he was loosening up to the idea of all these friendly people by meal's end.
  • We are trying to learn Turkish immediately. Last night we worked on Merhaba with the boys. This is greeting of hello. We are also working on teşekkür ederim which means thank you.
  • Ihlan had dinner with us. He is Nick and Kristy's gardener. He also runs a rental car business on the side. He got us a small, four door car to use for $400 a month. We are excited to have transportation as it is very hot. The only bad thing is that I don't think this car will hold our double stroller so venturing off-Base may get tricky. Ihlan is very nice, and I think we will hire him to be our gardener, eventually. The gardeners are very nice but they are in great competition with each other for clients. They are not supposed to try and recruit you, but there is a fine line in how this works.
  • Nick told us to watch out for stray dogs or cats when off-Base. That you needed to stay away from them as a scratch or bite would mean rabbi's shots.
  • The main city here is Adana. That is about a 30 minute drive. We hope to see Adana soon but didn't feel up to venturing our admist the jet lag.

Hopefully this is a good summary of where things stand right now. Today is Saturday. We plan to attend a bbq at friends of Nick and Kristy's this evening. Otherwise, we plan to get some things done around our TLF. Scrubs needs exercise. We need groceries. We are hopeful to get to the post office. Things like that. I am also hoping we can attend church services tomorrow. I have to try find that information somewhere.

I have been told that we cannot take pictures outside of our homes on Base. I am going to try to get more information on this soon.

Kristy also told me that I would feel more comfortable when walking in public if I had my legs and shoulders covered. I am hoping to get to the tailor that was recommended to me and get some appropriate skirts made as soon as possible.

Turkey nuts & bolts

Lots went on today. But here are a few facts. Later, when I am not so jet-lagged, I'll take the time to post about all the new stuff we are seeing and people we are meeting. But for now, here's some minutia:
  • The boys slept from 10pm Turkey time until 11:30am Turkey time -- at which point we actually woke them up to try to get them on our new time zone.
  • The post office was not open today so we'll wait until tomorrow to see if the mail we've been mailing ourselves is ready for us.
  • JB and I, with the help of sleeping medication, slept from 11pm until 9am. JB, who is used to doing this post-call thing, has done really well today. I have been very out of it. Food seems totally uninportant to me. I just feel like I am zoned out and floating through the day.
  • The boys have been crankier than usual but otherwise are doing well.
  • We are renting a car this evening. We will have it until we get our van sometime in October. The car will cost us $400 a month. Not too shabby.

And the biggest news of all: WE GOT A NEW FOUR BEDROOM HOUSE! JB went to housing, and they already our file out and had the house ready for us. We move in on Tuesday next week. We will have loaner furniture and kitchen utensils for us until our UB and HHG get here at some point. How awesome is that?!

A Picture Prior to Departure

Here is us and all of our stuff ready to loan the plane. Do we look like the Beverly Hill Billies or what?

Flashback (Part III)

Thursday 11:30am (EST) / 5:30pm (Turkey) I think I have the times right. I’m actually not really sure. If I’m not exact, I’m close. And close, especially right now, is good enough.

We are now one hour from our new home on Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey. I am amazed that one mere mortal (me) can learn so much in such a short period of time. Here are some of the highlights of the education I have received in the last approximately twenty-four hours.
  • Headphones. In my opinion, you have totally missed the reason for having them if you turn up your music so high that the person in front of you (me) or to your side (me) can hear it. You might as well just not wear them, don’t you think?
  • Snoring. I’m glad I am not a snorer. I think it is funny when people start snoring on a plane. Okay so, yes, it can be annoying. But then it can be funny when it wakes them up and they jump and realize they were snoring and their face gets red and they are embarrassed. I generally don't like people being embarrassed. But this snoring embarrassment cracks me up.
  • Repetition. Did you know it is possible for one five-year-old young girl to yell at the top of her lungs that she “don’t want to wear her seat belt” 47 times in a row with barely a breath in between? How exhausting must that be? What stamina she must have. And her poor parents.
  • Call nights. I have a new appreciation for JB and the call nights he had to do so frequently during residency. They stink. I mean, really, really stink. Staying awake for long periods of time is not a fun thing to do. Sleep is a much funner activity.
  • Food. Food is a strange thing. Why is it that tortellini can taste so good at 6pm but then be so incredibly unappetizing when offered to you mid-morning. It may have been dinner time in Europe, but it was still breakfast time back in the U.S. I tried to eat the tortellini but it was really difficult to meld with my palate at 7am US time.
  • Food Part II. While tortellini may require a certain amount of timing, a Twix bar and a bag of M&Ms truly can be eaten mid-morning. It really isn’t that hard to do. Close your eyes and dive in. You quickly forget that it's morning time.
  • Extra food. Since our boys own a seat, they are entitled to all the food we are. Only they don’t eat all the food we do. Not only because their stomachs are littler but because they were sleeping for a good majority of both flights. This freed JB and I up to request an extra snack many times and then eat it for them. Sweet!
  • Out-of-body experiences. I almost asked the Veterinarian (gosh that is hard word to spell on a few hours of cat naps) who helped us get Scrubs out of his kennel in Turkey to take a potty break, where she was from when she started to talking to us with a German accent. Then I realized, all in a moment, (and thank goodness that moment was before I actually said anything), that we were IN Germany. Oh yeah. We did leave the country didn’t we? That was probably also the reason that she used the word “meadow” to describe the grassy slab that we could let Scrubs do his business on. A meadow? Not quite.
  • Blessing in disguise. The fact that Elijah and Isaac slept for a good portion of both of our flights (7 and 3.5 hours respectively) is a good thing. We are sure it is. But we have to wonder if, when we arrive in Turkey and we are on–our-butts exhausted and they are wide awake, if we will feel the same way. This time zone change is a lot easier to maneuver when you only have yourself to worry about.
  • Scrubs and squishyness. Scrubs is usually not a big barker. But mannnn he can bark when you take him out of his kennel in Germany for a grand total of about 9 minutes and then put him back in and return him to the people who are going to box him up under the plane. Oh gosh he got mad at us. He barked at us for many, many minutes, and I swear that his bark was talking to me. I think it was saying, “Hey person! What are you doing? Are you really going to put me back in this kennel and back under the plane? Are you crazy? I want to stay with you.” Oh Scrubby darling. If you saw how much room we had in our row you’d quickly realize that you got the best end of the deal. If given the choice, I really think I’d take a kennel over the tightness present throughout this plane. Seriously I did not know it was possibly to have so many people jammed into one place. Scrubs got the good end of the deal!
  • Camaraderie. Military people were right when they told me how this overseas thing would go. There is a sense of camaraderie when you are in a military situation with other people. So many people helping us today. So many people talking to us. So much kindness from one set of people to another. Many of the individuals on our plane are in uniform, headed to Afghanistan. Others are like us – moving their pets and children across the world. Others were flying stand-by, hoping to secure a flight back to Europe for themselves and their children. Three different women, their husbands deployed, and towing 2-3 children a piece, simply walked up to us and left all their luggage next to us, trusting us to keep an eye on things while they tried to manage multiple additions at once. I washed chocolate off the hands of one little girl I had never met. I played cars with two others. There really is some bonding in these situations.
  • Government-run. While the camaraderie is wonderful, I am reminded, every step of our journey, how things run when they run without customer service. While nothing terrible has happened today, it is different when you aren’t trying to impress people. The pilot overshot our landing. I mean wheels on the tarmac, he had to pull up and circle around and try again. No explanation was given. He also gave no explanation when we sat on the runway for two hours waiting to take off. Seats are cramped. Explanations do not run rampant. This airline (a military chartered flight) has no reason to try to impress us. The government will continue to use them. And they will continue to cram more people in that one can think humanly possible. This is a frustrating feeling. There is something about having healthy competition that breeds good service. No doubt about it.
  • Teddy Grahams. These little bears rock. (Thanks Becky!) The boys love them. They especially love them in their little blue bowls that have these handy lids that they have to reach into to prevent spillage. Did you know that a Teddy Graham, when held upside down, looks like a rabbit? It’s true. You should buy some and try them for yourself. Isaac told us at one point, “Look! It’s a bunny.” When we told him that it was not a bunny but in fact a bear he looked at it, squinted up his nose and said, “No it’s not. It’s a bunny.” Later, upon closer examination, JB discovered that, in fact, Isaac was correct. Upside down Teddy Grahams do "bear" an eerie resemblance to a bunny. No joke.
  • Packing. Somehow, someway, we have to figure out a way to take less stuff with us in our carry-on’s in our future travels. We just have too much stuff. Way too much stuff. But everything really seems valuable. Either way, we must figure out a simpler way to maneuver our way around without so much extra baggage.
  • Talking. Car seats must go in the middle seats of our row. This leaves JB and I on the aisle seats of our four-row endeavor. The problem with this is not huge but it is consequential. We could not communicate like, at all! Talking over two sleeping kids without waking up everyone around you is next to impossible. I cannot tell you how many times one of us mouthed, as loud as we could, "I can't hear you!" It got quite frustrating and we basically gave up knowing what the other one was trying to say.
  • Date night. This was a cute movie. They showed it on the plane. Funny. Light-hearted. Especially when it was edited for language. I can't vouch for how it is without the editing.
  • Sleep. When you are tired and everyone is tired, no one cares, at all, what you look like. You know how they have pictures of the crazies in WalMart? Well, they should have a page for the crazy things you see when watching people sleep on planes. Quite interesting. Maybe there is a website for this. But either way, no one cares. Mouths open. Pink eye masks. Pillows everywhere. Sleep is the most important thing. Not the way we look.

Flashback (Part II)

I posted a bit on the plane ... here's a short bit of my recollection shortly after we left Baltimore.

Wednesday 11:44pm (EST) You may have guessed, proved by the absence of a post on on Wednesday, that we were on our way to Turkey.

If you made that deduction, you were right. Gold star for you.

I am writing this from the plane on the way to Ramstein, the Base in Germany that will be our refueling point in our journey. From there we will head to Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey.

It’s still all quite surreal to me. I really cannot believe that we are now on our way to the Middle East and our new home. I really can’t fathom the fact that the people we love will be living seven hours behind us in time zones. I truly don’t think I have digested any of it yet. I’m not sure when it will sink in, but it hasn’t yet. I’m still in survival mode, attempting to simply make it there with our two babies and dog without losing my mind or any small pieces of it.

So to backtrack slightly ….

We woke up this morning and spent the day preparing for our 10pm flight which we are now on. I could go into all the details of preparations but quite honestly, I’m just too tired to do that. I will say that John & Becky were wonderful to put us up for two days. We were relieved that the storm which blew through the night before we arrived returned power to their house. (200,000 people were still without power when we arrived.) Becky took such good care of us. I even had the opportunity to go with her to a running store today that specializes in watching you walk and telling you exactly which shoe is the best for you. Hopefully my new purchase will help my feet continue to heal. I’ll also say that Becky had a fantastic yard for Scrubs and that her dog Annie and Scrubs got along amazing. They played together, laid together, and simply went on about their merry way in the house as if the other one did not exist. It was wonderful.

What I can also tell you right now is that these military flights are less than ideal. All these men and women headed out on deployments sure aren’t getting as nice of a send-off as I think they deserve. I don’t mean to be a complainer but I have never seen people packed in more closely than we are right now. We are in a row of four, occupying each seat in our row. The boys’ are now asleep in their car seats in the two middle seats, but their little legs can’t even fit in the space they have. Poor little guys have their legs up on the tray tables in front of them to fit! Ugh! It is unbelievably crammed. One guy voiced his complaint that this was not very luxurious, and the attendant answered his whining about no TVs and lack of leg room by bringing him a little kids’ activity bag. I guess that’ll show him.

That aside, the news of the day is that Scrubs is on the flight! We are on the flight, and thanks to our new friend Ryan, (I met his wife online a few months ago through our mutual friend Amy. Sarah and her son William are preparing to join her husband in a few weeks), so are we. We abused Ryan to the full extent by eliciting help in getting on the plane. Thank goodness he was there to help us carry on our six carry-on bags, stroller, carseats, and two boys. I’d like to say that next time we will pack lighter, but truly, I am just not sure what we could leave behind. We need enough diapers for the hours we’ll be gone. We need a change of clothes for us and the boys. We need all our important documents and some food. There just really isn’t much we could not bring. But somehow, we have to try to pack even lighter the next time we do this. Ryan willingly jumped in when we removed Elijah from the stroller while in line for security, and due to the excess weight we had loaded onto the stroller’s handles, it flipped backward with Isaac inside it. Not a pretty sight.

All right, enough about our trip. I will be updating periodically throughout the next hours and nearly entire day – sharing snippets of our journey. I’m not sure when I’ll get to post this blog. Sometime in the next few days I hope.

We are due in to Incirlik Air Force Base at 7pm tomorrow evening. That’s Thursday. And that’s noon Eastern Standard Time. For now, I’m going to enjoy whatever hot meal they are bringing me and pray that my boys sleep all seven hours of our trip to Germany.

Maybe I’ll even try to sleep a bit myself.

Flashback (Part I)

First a few snapshots from our time with John, Becky, and Annie. John & Becky are anxiously are currently in the process of an adoption through South Korea. We had so much to talk about and such wonderful fellowship. They are very dear friends and their house was a wonderful respite before we left Baltimore on Wednesday evening.

Annie was fantastic with the boys. Here she is watching the movie CARS with Isaac.

When we set up Scrubs' kennel to try it out for our trip, he was thrilled. He climbed in and immediately took a nap. He had this look like: "Oh! Something that belongs to me! How glorious!"

The night before we left, Becky made us an "All American" meal. How wonderful was that? BBQ, watermelon, corn, and brownies and cobbler for dessert. So fun.

Here is a picture of John and Becky the night before we left. They moved to Washington DC about one year ago so that he could go to nurse practitioner school. He will finish in one more year and then they will be on to a new Base. Becky is hoping to visit us in Turkey in the spring! (And maybe she can bring John too -- we'll see!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

We now live ...

... in Turkey.

Much more to come when I am not so overcome by jetlag. But for now I'll tell you that we left at 10pm last night and arrived in Turkey at about 8pm Turkey time today (Thursday.)

We met our sponsors and friends Nick and Kristy outside of customs. They have us settled in our TLF (Temporary Lodging Facility). They had stacked us up with food for all of us (including Scrubs.)

We are hopeful that the boys will sleep this evening and that we will be able to flip our sleep quickly.

Tomorrow we will go investigate housing, the post office, gate passes, and a variety of other items.

But tonight we are going to go to sleep while the boys are in bed.

We're here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Van is on the way

Our van has been checked in at the port. Thanks to help from my dear friend Becky, our van is officially on the way to the Middle East. ETA? October 7th. Wow. October 7th? Really? I knew it would be long but October feels forever away.

We decided, early on, to check our van in at the end of our travel and rent a van when we get to Turkey being as the rental prices are considerably cheaper in Turkey. We could have sent our van weeks ago and rented something in the States in the meantime, but they are much more expensive here. So we opted for a rental on the tail-end of our trip.

We all took a drive to the port and dropped off the van. One funny thing. We were given a list of items that we needed to have in our van for departure months ago. JB has spent the last few weeks compiling these items. A fire extinguisher, triangle lights, things like that.

So, anyways, we bought the items. One of them was a $70 jumper system that allows you to jump your vehicle without having a secondary vehicle to jump it. But then, when we got to the port today, we were told that while it is recommended we have the jumper system in our vehicle when we are in Turkey, we are not allowed to ship it over in our vehicle. We instead have to mail it to ourselves and then put it in our vehicle when we get to Turkey.

That made total sense to me, don't you think? (Sarcasm intended.)

On a good note, our luggage hitch was allowed to be transported inside the van. We were told they may not like us take it which would have meant we'd have to leave it with John & Becky and figure out a time to get it later. But they let us take it. That felt wonderful.

As for our time with John and Becky, it has been wonderful, to say the least. I'll post pictures and tell more about it later, but Becky and I are kindred spirits. We share a passion for adoption, an understanding of infertility, a love of dogs, and just a general outlook on life.

Scrubs has done fantastic with their dog Annie, which has brought me great comfort. If anything drastic occurred tomorrow, Scrubs would be staying with them until we could figure out a Plan B. Knowing that he and Annie are already fast friends and get along fabulously is quite a relief. We have set up his kennel and put all of the blankets in it that he will be having in there when we travel. He is actually sleeping in there, by choice, right now, which makes us feel better.

We talked to the Vet. She said we can give him some Benadryl. We can also put a frozen water container in the kennel so he can at least quench his thirst on the flight.

The boys are doing great. A little more crankiness than usual. Naps and bedtimes that are varrying. Not eating fantastically, but overall, awesome. They have been great sports. Everyone has.

I will keep everyone posted on our lives. Your continued prayers are much appreciated. More details to come.

Monday, July 26, 2010


We arrived at Clay and Brittney’s house on Saturday afternoon. We spent Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday with their family before heading out on Monday morning. On the road again.
So Clay and Brittney and Madison and Jocelyn. A brief background on our relationship with them for all of you who are confused as to who they are.
Clay worked with JB in the residency program on Eglin AFB. He was a year ahead of JB and following residency, life took them to Virginia and Langley AFB. In addition to JB and Clay working together, Clay and Brittney attended the same church as we did (Crossway) while at Eglin. We were also in the same Care Group. Brittney and I both have travelled the infertility road in different ways as well. She now has two girls – one adopted and one biological – and they are just over one year apart. You wouldn’t guess the genetic difference in her girls just the same as our family. Jocelyn looks just like her sister just as Isaac looks like us.
Clay and Brittney treated us to delicious fajitas one night and hamburgers the next. She also made these AMAZING (Joia, you MUST try them) cake poppers. Honestly, it’s one of the best snacks I have ever been fortunate to participate in. The four of us day-dreamed post-dinner about all the different flavors she could try in the future since I loved these so much despite the fact that red velvet and white chocolate wouldn’t be my foods of choice.
They also took us to the Virginia Living Museum on Sunday morning. They have season passes (that include two free guests) so they often take their out-of-town company. What a cool field trip. Since the weather in the Northeast has been particularly brutal (I think it got up to 105 yesterday), an indoor activity was just what we needed. The boys loved it! They got to pet crabs and starfish and go through caves and climb in turtle shells and find dinosaur fossils and see bobcats and foxes and bald eagles. Way fun!
Our family is doing okay. Elijah is a bit whinier than normal. Scrubs is a bit more confused than normal (imagine that!) while Isaac continues to ask many questions about where we are going and who we are seeing and if his toys are coming and when we are leaving for Turkey and that sort of thing. I am feeling ready to be in one place and to just focus on being a mom again.
I’ve learned a lot during the last three months of my life. It was sometime in April when we found out that we were moving to Turkey. And it was around May 1st when everything began to move in the direction of preparing for this trip. That means nearly three months of pre-, during-, and post-moving. One month of that time was spent on the road.
I asked JB last night if he regretted not just flying straight from Eglin to Turkey and avoiding the month we have spent on the road. He doesn’t regret it and either do I. While it was hard to be on the road for a month straight, I don’t regret getting to spend such quality time with the people we love before we left the country. We also killed some time. Our “stuff” probably won’t arrive in Turkey anytime soon so as we see it, we were just able to cut down on the time we will be in Turkey without our “stuff.” We are hopeful that our UB will get there within about 2 weeks of our arrival. But our HHG? It could take another month or more. We aren’t getting our hopes up at all about how quickly things will get there.
It’s like our house in Turkey. We are pretty positive we will get a four bedroom. But we don’t know if it will be one of the luxurious brand new houses or one of the old ones. I feel that preparing myself for the old ones is a safe place to be. I’d rather be surprised than disappointed.
The things I miss most? The boys booster seats. It’s hard to not be able to strap them down while they eat. I miss some of their books. I wish I could read them a few of their favorites that we had to send on. JB also misses the two road atlases that I accidentally sent in UB instead of in our van. That’s been a pain. I also miss them having their cribs. I wish they could sleep in their own beds. Isaac misses his “whale shark.” He asks about it a lot. And his “fire engine” – the one I bought at a yard sale for 25 cents before we left. He’s going to be excited to see both of those.
But otherwise, there really isn’t much I feel like we are doing without. You really need very little to live your life. “Stuff” really is just “stuff.” If you have a camera and your health and some clean underwear, and some deodorant and a toothbrush, I’m not really sure you need much more.
I’ve learned that to be picky about what you eat, worried about germs or cleanliness, or just uptight about anything in particular … well, that would complicate living on the road and big travelling. You have to be very flexible and go with the flow when you are sleeping and living in different places.
Our routine is that we currently have no routine. We try to get the boys sleep when we can. We hope Elijah takes his morning nap (which he hasn’t dropped yet.) We also do our best to get them some downtime in the afternoon after lunch. Elijah will doze in the car but Isaac has yet to knock out while we are driving. Yesterday’s nap included about one hour of playing and yelling at each other and one hour of sleeping. Not ideal, but you go with it. You can’t be picky or get frustrated. It isn’t their fault that they don’t have a schedule. It’s not really our fault wither. It just is what it is at the moment.
You forgive yourself for mistakes that you make. Yesterday we drove 3.5 hours without stopping, and when we got to Clay & Brittney’s we discovered that both boys had thoroughly soaked through their diapers and clothes. Mistake. Ooops. We also found out that Isaac was able to open the front door at Hershal and Michelle’s. We had no idea he could do this, and when we found him standing on the front porch, our stomachs dropped instantly. Bad mistake. Won’t happen again. Learn from it. Do your best.
We try to feed the boys the best we can. Neither of them have seemed as interested in eating as much as they usually do. Scrubs included. But truth be told, either have I. Either has JB. Stress and the craziness of life takes precedent. We try to pick healthy foods, but we also keep reminding ourselves that we can revert back to a schedule for food and sleep and everything once we arrive. You have to roll with it and take things in stride.
I look forward to be just being a mom again. I feel like so much of my day right now involves packing and unpacking and organizing and laundry and food and wearing Scrubs out so he isn’t annoying inside the house. The boys are getting to watch more movies then they ever have. We aren’t reading books as frequently as I would like or they would like.
But we are doing the best we can. Kids are resilient. People are resilient. We aren’t the first ones to move halfway across the world with two toddlers and a dog and we won’t be the last.
Thank you for your prayers. Please, if you don’t mind, keep our little family in your prayers. Pray for sleep and rest and peace and patience and, well, heck, just pray all the fruit of the spirit if you don’t mind.

Here are some pictures from our time with this fantastic family. Thank you guys for putting up with us for two days!

These are pictures from the Virginia Living Museum:

Me and Elijah on the Boardwalk outside. We hit this at about 10:30 -- just in time before the 105 degree heat would have melted us away.

Here is Jocelyn. What a beauty. This kid has some spunk!
Clay with big sister Madison who has really come out of her shell since we last saw her.
The sea otters were way cool. This picture really isn't staged. We were that excited -- all of us!
Here is an aquarium. Elijah was infatuated with them on this trip.
There was so much to touch. Here are the boys with a horseshoe crab. Isaac wanted to ouch everything, but we had to make sure Elijah didn't smash everything.
Here is Isaac dusting off some dinosaur fossils.
Elijah and JB dusting away.

More dinosaur fossils.

This turtle was quite popular. Isaac would have played on it most of the day. That, and, ride the elevator and go up and down the stairs.

Outside the Museum. Apparently this is a tradition. They take this picture with all their guests. Jocelyn and Madison went to climb up as soon as they got there.

Here are some other photos of our time with Brittney, Clay, and their girls:
Madison took a turn walking Scrubs.

We walked to a little marina down the street. The boys loved the wagon.

Our family. Man was it hot!

Elijah on the swing. We waited to go outside until it was nearing dusk. And it was still quite hot outside. Whew! Poor JB keeps having to unload and reload our car int his heat.

Elijah in a hand-me-down shirt from big cousin Nate.

Love this picture.

Isaac and Elijah had never been on a teeter-totter before. Isaac thought the point was to get to the top and then jump off. He loved doing this (until he landed on his shoe and hurt himself.)

Here I am trying to help them get the hang of this new game. Isaac is already preparing to launch himself off the side which makes it hard for Elijah to actually "teeter."

Going down the slide. Thanks Brittney for all these great photos.

The girls had these way cool scooters. The boys loved climbing on them. However, the 2.5 mph ride was a bit overwhelming when they took them outside. Climbing on them stationary was much preferred.

Here I am trying to teach Madison how to throw the Frisbee. Scrubs was a good sport going and retrieving the Frisbee even though it was only about five feet away after a kid threw it.

The girls LOVED hanging out with the Scrubster.

Here is Madison with the gifts we got from the family -- nice and luggage friendly!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

To see what we are doing ...

... click here and click here to visit Brittney's museum and see some of our last adventures in these here United States of America.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday and Saturday

Friday, Friday evening, and half of Saturday was spent at my dear friend Michelle's house in North Carolina. She and her husband Hershal have two beautiful children: Edward who is three and Annabelle who is one.

I have known Michelle since kindergarten, and we have remained the best of friends despite our busy lives breaking down communication in stretches. We were both in each other's weddings and I will just always have a special place for her family in my heart. We had a wonderful visit, and here are just a few pictures to share. (We did get a group picture with Hershal's automatic timer that I will post when he sends it to me.)
In the playroom. A rather failed attempt at getting a picture of all four kiddos at once.

Way to go to Annabelle. At least YOU would look at the camera.

JB reading one our new Mickey books (a present from Michelle and family) to the boys.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday on the Road

When we left our home on Eglin AFB nearly a month ago, our mini-van was packed to the brim.

(Did I mention that when we bought this van, we fought it with every fiber of our being? We wanted a Pilot or something cool. At the time, we thought that we were still doing the China adoption and we just couldn’t figure out how to get three babies into anything smaller than a mini-van without throwing our backs out on a regular basis.)

(All that to say, we have realized the folly of our original line of thinking. Our mini-van is, well, the bomb, and I don’t know how we’d get a dog, two boys, two grown-ups, a double jogger, two pack-n-plays, two car seats, six suitcases, toys, food, and other bits of random “stuff” from Eglin to South Florida and then South Florida to Maryland without our handy dandy, uncool van.)

Sorry. Tangent. Refocusing.

Back to where I was.

Where was I?

Oh. So everything we wanted for the next four weeks of our lives was in our mini-van when we left Eglin. Our hitch carried a tow platform that was stacked as high as we could safely maneuver. In fact, JB preferred to do the majority of the driving to South Florida since “bottoming out” was a very real possibility that I didn’t feel quite comfortable dealing with nor did he feel quite comfortable watching me deal with it.

Thursday morning we loaded up the van and pulled out again. This time we were headed north and leaving my parents home with the first day’s goal being Savannah, GA. While the van was still a bit on the uncomfortably tight side of loaded, we definitely had lowered our “bottoming-out” factor.

While in South Florida we mailed nearly ten boxes to our APO Box in Turkey. Toys and blankets and toiletry items galore are probably waiting for us (or hopefully waiting for us) in a post office on Incirlik Air Force Base.

We also unloaded a lot of items that we weren’t intending to keep with us at all. Things like gas containers and paints and other items that we were not permitted to travel with overseas but that we just didn’t feel comfortable throwing away. Tara. Lesley. You’d be proud. My cheapness prevailed. Someone had to be able to use these items instead of us filling a landfill with them.

So. Thursday morning. My Mom took Scrubs for one last 5am walk. My Dad took him for one last Frisbee outing on the baseball field. JB got himself thoroughly drenched loading the van while I scoured under the sofas for every last matchbox car and story book I could find.

At 8am we said good bye. We had already said good bye to all of JB’s family on Wednesday. My brother and AD on Tuesday. Joan a week earlier and Bri the day prior. I tried my best not to cry. We really didn’t think that Isaac and Elijah needed to see people getting upset. I tried to hide my tears but found it a little bit impossible as our family circled up and my Dad prayed over each of us. For health. For safety. For peace.

We were excited. But we were sad. All rolled up into one big ball of emotion.

While Isaac is so much more verbal than Elijah, we have to wonder if Elijah isn’t just as aware as his big brother that things are a little “off.” Isaac speaks enough for both of them. He asks when we are going to go to the “parking lot” where the “airpanes” are so that we can get on our “airpane” and go to “Turdey.” He asks if we are going to get a rental car. (I’m not sure why.) He asks where his van is a few times each day. (He has also become obsessed with blinkers being on in the van and stopping at a red light and slowing down at a yellow light and that sort of thing. Railroad crossings too. But that’s a story for another day.) He asks every time we get in the van where we are going. He’s trying, in whatever way he can, to try and put his finger on where we actually live and when we are going to stop bee-bopping from place to place.

Yesterday as we pulled away from Grama Di and Papa, we explained to the boys that we were headed to a hotel in Georgia. Isaac called it the “new ‘tel” – his way of comparing it to our “new house.”

The drive went well. Fairly uneventful. We made two major stops and two additional minor stops. The second of our major stops was at a rest stop where there was a huge grassy area that I could play Frisbee with Scrubs while JB chased the boys and they all played with the new Lightning McQueen and Sherriff that Bri gave them on the last day she saw them. By the time we got into the van, everyone was exhausted making the end of the trip some of our best hours on the road.

One of our minor stops was KFC for lunch. We don’t think the boys had ever been to KFC. Elijah thought that big chunky fries were fantastic and chowed into them with his normal delight for all things food. Isaac on the other side kept saying, “Just want yellow fries.” He wasn’t impressed with our food choice whatsoever, and when he realized we weren’t getting fries like he was used to, he resorted to, “Just want ice cream.” Thank goodness my Mom had made some PB&J before we left. Isaac stuck to that.

Isaac is a fantastic traveler. He looks around, watches movies, reads books, plays with his cars, eats and drinks with next to zero complaining and no crying.

Elijah is a little less content. He is doing a lot of signs but still gets frustrated that we can’t understand him when he grunts or says the first half of a word. He also just doesn’t want to be in his seat. Overall, he does a decent job. I’d say he’s probably in the middle of the bell curve when it comes to spending hours on end strapped down in a car seat. But he makes it obvious he has other places he’d rather be.

Scrubs does pretty well. He cries for some unknown reason periodically and is forced to lay on the floorboard between the boys and our seats for most of the drive. The boys have grown frustrated with him if he sits up and blocks them from seeing out the window or watching their video. Elijah will yell at him and Isaac will say, “Bubby down!” over and over until he gives up and slips into a sleep position on the floorboard which we have padded down with blankets for him.

By 4:30pm, we had reached Savannah, Georgia. I’ve never been into the heart of Savannah before. What a quaint town. Such incredible personality and history. Beautiful parks, tons of restaurants, and swanky downtown hotels and apartments greet you at every turn down the shady city streets.

Too bad we didn’t have more time to spend driving around. We went straight to our hotel, The Thunderbird Inn, and got settled. Unfortunately, no matter how simple we tried to make it, we had to bring a ton of stuff into the room. The tow hitch needed to be unloaded and stored inside the van so that the items can be secured overnight.

Even more unfortunate was the fact that our room was on the second floor, right smack in the middle of the two staircases. And there was no elevator either. This meant that while I stayed up in the room with the boys and the dog, JB had to unload the suitcases and pack-n-plays and toy bag and food bags and bring them up the stairs. He then had to unload the hitch and move the stroller inside the van. It was quiet a process. And it was quite hot.

By the time the van was unloaded, the boys and I had thoroughly exhausted every book and car we had brought with us. We had moved the two rolling chairs to the side of the bed and were squatting on them (no standing allowed!) and doing belly flops onto the big king-sized bed. (Well, they were at least. I refrained. So did Scrubs as he was too preoccupied sniffing every corner of the place.)

The room was extremely small but, as promised on their website, quite “hip.” Very clean with a lot of personality. Just small. We played with our cars on the window unit and on the desk and let Scrubs drink his water in the tiny bathroom. We put our suitcases under the sink.

And then we had to think about dinner. We opted to not load everyone up and find a place to eat despite the fact that they had given us a list at the front desk of restaurants that catered to families with dogs. Instead, JB found a sushi restaurant for himself and grocery store for me and the boys. He brought a plate of fruit and some yogurt and a sandwich, and we fed the boys while they ran around us giggling and driving cars and throwing stuffed animals. Blueberry yogurt into the mouth on a moving target is something I’ve actually gotten quite good at.

That was followed up by baths for the little men and then, per Elijah’s request, bedtime. Our little ‘Lijah has no patience for staying awake when he is tired. He puts his hand to the side of his head, says “Ni-ni” and expects to be down in his bed within 60 seconds or less of his request. We put him in his bed even though we still had a lot to do in the room (get Isaac into bed, brush our teeth, take Scrubs to the bathroom, etc.) Elijah didn’t care. He was out in five minutes flat while the room was still a stir around him.

Isaac was another story. JB and I plopped down in our bed and each got a book out to read. Isaac opted to bounce around in his pack-n-play talking and giggling and making faces at us. He’d smoosh his nose on the netting of the pack-n-play and snort and laugh and take his socks off and want them back on and ask for a book and milk and anything else he could think of to get us up and over to where he was. We tried to stifle our laughs behind our books, but it was quite cute. And we were quite helpless. The room was too small for us to pretend we didn’t see him.

An hour later he finally gave up.

We were on the road this morning by seven. We are in the van now. I’m typing this blog on the laptop and will transfer it over to my site later … stay tuned. The adventure is bound to continue. And as always, writing about it is my pleasure, and outlet, and way to process everything that is going on.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Joshua 1:9

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Thank you to Maria, who left Cuba and her entire family behind years ago, and who reminded me of this scripture. She definitely know what leaving an adventure is. Bless you Maria!

Summing it up

We are leaving very soon.

A few updates.

JB drove to Cape Canaveral with his Dad on Tuesday. It was a six hour drive round trip but since the Base is near Orlando, they had the opportunity to meet his sister Katie, brother-in-law Eddie, and brother Rob for lunch at a dog friendly cafe for lunch. JB also got to just spend some time talking to his Dad on the drive back and forth. His Dad works a lot so taking an entire day off work was a big deal for him and for JB. They had a wonderful time hanging out and listening to Scrubs whine in the van for half the trip.

Other than some van whining, Scrubs did fantastic. (We aren't sure why he whines in the van. We can't figure out if he is excited, scared, nervous, or mad, but it usually lets up after a portion of time.)

He was quite popular with the vet. I forget what a beautiful dog Scrubby is until other people see him and comment on him. They also comment on how big he is. He is three inches taller than the Dalmatian "standard" so yes, he's a big boy. And, as the vet said, all muscle.

Scrubs did fantastic during our time here in South Florida. He loved playing Frisbee at the baseball and soccer fields across the street from my parents' house and was off-leash like a pro. I even added a few training items to his repertoire, and he has picked them up quite well. I have worked on "around" (so that he sits next to me instead of in front of me) and "crawl" both of which he is getting quite well. In addition, cousin Gracie learned how to boss Scrubs around as well. While giving a dog commands is half the battle, you also have to give the command correctly in order for them to follow orders. Gracie figured it out and had him sitting, fiving, laying, rolling, and moving back to a sit like a pro.

Yesterday we had brunch at the Kits' house. Mom made Paula Dean's french toast. It was awesome! Yum, yum, yum!

I decided to watch my boys and Grace and Nate yesterday while the Kit. family went to see Inception. I was just too emotionally drained to watch a movie that made me think. So I passed and opted to babysit instead. I took all four kiddos and Scrubs' to the baseball field. We all ran around and played chase, and each of them took turns throwing the Frisbee like, four inches, for Scrubs to go and get it. (Scrubs kept looking at me like: Could you please just throw it? These kids don't get the idea that I want to run and get it.). We watched some of Toy Story II, and then Bree stopped by to say a final good bye. She brought a special "prize" for Isaac and Elijah: a big Sheriff and Lightning from the movie Cars. Saying good bye to Bree was stinky.

The boys spent the rest of the evening playing with Papa and parking Sheriff and Lightning in the garage (stepping stools set up on the couch). My Dad made dinner and my Mom took the boys to the park so we could get some packing done uninterrupted.

We will spend quite a few days making the drive to Baltimore. We'll also be stopping to say hello and good bye to some great friends who, we are lucky enough, to pass by on our way out of the country.

I will post some from the road I am sure and keep you updated on our adventures. Please pray for safety and strength. While saying good bye is cruddy, we really are excited for this new adventure and to experience this together as a family. What an opportunity to see the world!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good byes

My heart is sad. I've cried a lot. While I am excited, and I am ready to not be living out of suitcases, I am sad.

As hard as it was to leave Eglin, leaving our family is even harder.

Thank you to those of you who have encouraged me. I need it. We know we are going to have a great adventure. But saying good bye is hard.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy birthday Mom. I love you.

(And, by the way, my parents 35th anniversary was 3 days ago. Happy anniversary too!)

Leaving soon

Our time is growing short.

I feel that the only way we can get through the next few days is to pretend that we aren't going to be leaving.

I keep reminding myself that we wanted to go to Turkey so that we could stay together as a family. We are saying good bye to our big family so that we can stay together as a little family.

But it is hard to imagine our loved ones possibly not seeing us for up to a year. I know we've gone that long seeing people before when we lived in Kentucky and Minnesota.

But for some reason this seems longer.

We were reading a book this morning. It had a picture of the Earth on it. The Earth is a very big place. We are going to a very far away place on the globe.

Praying for strength.

Adoption question (finally) answered

It was many moons ago now that someone asked me in a comment on my blog about adoption. They were asking why we think it is important that Isaac knows he is adopted. Why we are telling him. Why knowing his birth mother is important. That kind of thing.

I believe the individual who asked me this question was from somewhere outside the U.S. I know that our friend Bara, who is from Syria, had many questions about adoption when he came to visit us at Eglin shortly after Isaac was born.

I bring that up because adoption is viewed very differently in different parts of the world. For instance, Bara admitted to us that while there are orphanages in Syria, he is not aware that anyone actually adopts children out of these orphanages. Blood is extremely important and adoption is not really an offered option for individuals unable to have children. Bara said that he is sure people have adopted within Syria, but it was not done very obviously. And most likely the child would not ever be told they were adopted.

And that's just one country. Each country has different expectations, viewpoints, and laws, when it comes to adoption.

Years ago, and by years I mean when I was a child, the majority of adoptions were closed. By closed I mean that the child had no contact with his birth parents and that the adoptive parents never met the birth parents. Oftentimes the adoption was facilitated through a third party like a lawyer or an agency and any communication between the child and the birth family was organized through the agency. Once the child is of legal age, they can go back to that lawyer or agency and request information on their birth family. But contact could only occur if both parties were interested.

An example. Bri was adopted in 1990. Joan and Roy have some basic details in regards to her birth parents but do not know them or where to find them. If Bri wanted to find her birth parents, she could go to the lawyer and request contact. But that contact would only be approved if her birth parents wanted contact as well.

Over the last two decades, adoption has changed. Much research has been done to indicate that adoptions which are more open in nature can be more beneficial for the child. Most adoptions now a days are either "semi-open" or "fully open."

An example of a semi-open adoption would be that of my friend Brittney. They adopted their daughter Jocelyn. They receive gifts from Jocelyn's birth family but those gifts come through the adoption agency. They have a generic email account that they can send updates through.

A fully open adoption is one like we have with Bri. In our case, adopting Bri's son would have to be fully open since we already were so closely connected. I couldn't very well pretend I didn't know Bri's last name or where she lived and that sort of thing. But many people have fully open adoptions with people they do not know well.

I have decided that explaining how this works and feels to anyone outside of the situation is virtually impossible. Prior to adopting Isaac, JB and I were amongst those who couldn't comprehend this relationship. That's why we were adopting through China. In the case of China, the children are already given up when they begin the adoption process. They have no information on their birth parents and therefore you don't have to negotiate the birth parent relationship with these adoptions.

When the option to adopt Isaac was presented to us, we wondered how it would feel to adopt a little boy from a girl we know so closely. I really think Bri is the only one we would have done this with. She was already like my little sister and our families were already so close that creating this bond felt nearly like a normal extension. Since we knew her so well, we didn't feel that we'd have to "force" a relationship with her. We already had a relationship with her. Many of my friends have adopted and fostered relationships with women they did not know prior to the adoption occurring. I have not heard of a negative experience from any of my friends.

But now that we have done it, all I can say is that it works. Isaac is adopted. In his case I feel that to not tell him that would be to lie to him. It would be to not fully tell him who he is. In his case, he looks a lot like us. But what if he didn't? We are a product of the DNA that we are born with. Isaac's DNA is different. And I am glad it is.

We feel that Isaac knowing he is adopted from the very beginning is integral to who he will be as an adult. We don't want to drop a bombshell on him and rock his whole world. We want him to know, from the onset, who he is in his genes. We want him to know where he came from.

Of course, who he becomes is more than just DNA. Environment and leadership and discipline will play a role in his life as well.

Here is the thing. Isaac is our son. When we sat in front of the judge, the judge said to us that the law will now look at him like our blood. That he is entitled to all of the benefits any biological child we may have in the future is entitled to. Isaac's birth certificate now has my name on it. It has John's name on it. The law sees him as much our son as Elijah is.

And he is.

Many people wonder how it feels to "share" a child with someone else. Honestly, it feels great. Isaac is who he is because he is Bri's son. He has the looks and smile and personality of two individuals outside of JB and me. It's important to us that he knows that. And it is okay that we are "sharing" him. Without his birth parents, Isaac wouldn't be here. Without his birth parents, we wouldn't have him as our son. He wouldn't call us Dad and Mom.

What really makes a mother? Isaac hurt his foot during dinner at Joan and Roy's the other night. He went running around the table, passed everyone by, and jumped into my arms. I am his mom. I am "mommy." That is a gift that Bri gave me that nothing can change.

Not even blood.

I am so blessed that Bri chose me. I feel undeserving of this gift.

I hope this answers your question anonymous reader. It's a good one. But a hard to explain in words. If anyone of you out there, adoptive moms especially, could help explain in the comments, I would love to have additional input for this post.