The Weekend

The Weekend

I think weekends in Michigan are even more exciting than weekends in Iowa for us. Zach learning the ropes and every detail of his new job combined with the kids and their various activities/new friends + my new job means during the week I feel like we are all moving in various directions. Weekends allow us to come back together and reconnect. Holiday weekends even more so. And this weekend was absolutely beautiful.

Friday night Trysten and Dailah had sleepovers to go to so we got to spend some quality time with our other 3. This never happens. I loved getting to spend so much time with them, especially Tariku. We chatted about all the things and then we read funny cat and dog memes on Pinterest for about an hour. We also tried to take a selfie but since I don’t really know how it only kind of worked.

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This weekend was Family Camp at Camp Eberhart. It was so cool to see over 100 people hanging out at camp. Some families had multiple generations included in the fun so watching grandparents dote on their grandchildren was particularly special. I genuinely believe camp is the perfect place to reconnect. Instead of TVs and video games there are various forms of team building activities and relaxing beach time. I can’t recommend family camp enough-find one in your area and do it!! Saturday morning we shot some bows and arrows, made some tie dyed t-shirts and hung out by the beach. Zach’s dad ended up coming into town (yay!) for the weekend so we basically just kept the kids busy until he got there lest they ask every minute where he was. 🙂

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I had scheduled a little yoga retreat in Chicago months ago. Mostly it was a chance to hang with my bestie Chrissy but it was also a chance to learn new and exciting moves for my yoga practice. Rachel Brathen (yoga_girl if you’re on Instagram. Follow her! Not only are her yoga pictures beautiful but she always writes beautiful insights as well) led the workshop and was just as wonderful as I imagined. Her fiancé also came and watching the two of them together made me so happy. Witnessing new love is one of my favorite things in life.

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I think one of my favorite parts about my short 24 hours in Chicago was realizing how far I’ve come on my journey into mindfulness and self acceptance. As with any fitness/yoga workshop there were all kinds of men and women there. I think in past years I would’ve been so consumed with where I stacked compared to everyone else. I think I would’ve been too preoccupied  jealous, intimidated by those who were further along in their journey to really appreciate and accept where I am on my own. But there I was. Sweating and cussing and laughing. Handstanding and falling. Appreciating the feedback of Rachel and ending the workshop holding Chrissy’s hand and saying a little prayer of gratitude that my body can do all that is does and that my heart is open to new experiences and new people in the way that it is.

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Upon my return to Michigan I was greeted by excited children, a jazzed Zach (meeting new people and talking Camp makes for an excitable-and supremely attractive-Zach) and a tired Papa Frank (5 kids all wanting your undivided attention is exhausting-trust). But what a great Papa, right?

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And yesterday was more of the same. This time shooting rifles. Please, somebody, find something this kid isn’t immediately great at.

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And boating!!!! I love boating!! We all took our turns on the banana boat and I laughed so hard my abs are sore today. It’s my favorite kind of soreness.

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The afternoon was relaxed and wonderful. Zach took Hagrid stand up paddle boarding (full disclosure: Hagrid and I do this every day and we are just as adorable as you are picturing in your head right now). Trysten chose kayaking. Because Zach is the best when I looked out after about 30 minutes I found the two of them just laying down on their various water toys and talking.

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Fishing. Not my favorite past time but the kids will try anything and I happen to love that about them.

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I hope you guys had a wonderful weekend! Today you can smile because it’s already Tuesday!!! 🙂

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And then we snuggled

If you’re not friends with me on Facebook then you don’t know that yesterday a seismic shift in parenting Tariku happened.

I was slow to wake up so Zach had opened our bedroom door to try to gently remind me to wake up (hearing 5 children run around and get ready for their day has that affect) when Tariku peeked his head in. He’s done this before, usually just says good morning and then is off.

But yesterday he hesitantly walked in a little further and came and snuggled with me. I hadn’t held my arms open inviting him (only because I was still groggy and hadn’t realized he was still in the room). It was all him initiating. And its as the first time it’s ever happened.

It should be said that Tariku and I have a very affectionate relationship but it’s always been because I’m an extremely affectionate person. Though 6 years ago he would bristle when I tried holding his hand or go in for the hug, he now lets me pretty effortlessly-though I would be surprised if he’ll ever be a hand holder, my apologies to his future wife. Tariku will sit by me if I ask him, he’ll keep his leg flung over my legs while we’re watching a movie if I place them there.

But to initiate it? It just doesn’t happen.

Because we’ve all felt that pain of rejection haven’t we? Our adopted kiddos more than most. Tariku has never been a risk taker-if you look hard enough you can physically see him weighing all options before he does anything. And initiating physical affection? Initiating love? Too risky for a guy who’s had his heart broken in one of the most significant ways one can. Though I’ve made more mistakes in parenting Tariku than I care to admit I can honestly say I’ve always understood that I would have to be the impetus for all the hugs and kisses and snuggles.

I guess I just hadn’t realized just how big of a deal it is to have someone you love so, so, so much crawl into bed and place his head on your shoulder without you asking for it.

But it’s a big freaking deal you guys.

Though I feel like it was a seismic shift I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen all the time now. I know it doesn’t necessarily mean things will be vastly different from here on out. But I do believe if I continue to be vulnerable and look for the moments I can tell he’s wanting an “in” then maybe he’ll feel as open to it as he did yesterday.

So mamas out there, believe me when I tell you to keep at it. Keep loving on that babe that often doesn’t know what to do with your love. Keep being vulnerable yourself. I know how hard it is to constantly be the one to ask for hugs and kisses but keep. asking. Because you are showing that sweet child of yours that even though it’s scary to ask-it’s worth it. And maybe they’ll need to witness you going first for years or months before they work up enough courage to try it themselves, but stay strong. Stay open. Stay loving. Forgive yourself for the days when you don’t have it in you. One foot in front of the other. Hug upon hug.

6 years you guys. 6 years and one cuddle from him has made me *almost* forget the whole thing.

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The Weekend

The Weekend

This past weekend was my first weekend heading back to the Iowa-ay for a long ago planned celebration of my mom’s soon-to-be 60th birthday. Originally the plan was to bring my whole crew but Trysten had a 5th grade lock in he was really excited about Friday night so we decided it would make more sense to send me solo and have Zach stay in MI with the kiddos rather than make the long drive down on Saturday and back up on Sunday.

8+ hours in the car by myself all weekend? With Comedy Bang Bang, WTF and This American Life podcasts the whole way? It was really kind of nice! (Do you guys love any other podcasts? I dislike most mainstream music and thus rely heavily on podcasts and NPR to keep me awake during drives.)

I got to watch my niece Adley Sue play bam bam baseball Saturday morning. When we were discussing the game she told me I could call her “Suza” (which I do anyway) and to please make sure I yell really, really loudly so everyone knew it was her turn to bat. Twist my arm. I love that smart, funny little lady. I also love my new top for Mother’s Day. It’s super comfy and has the added bonus of promoting my brother’s Chiropractic business. Love!

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Saturday afternoon my mom had rented a limo for us to hit our favorite hot spots. The thing about my family is-I freaking love each one so much. I think they are hilarious and sweet and loving and fun to be around. My sister and brother married people I love equally as much. Am I wrong to believe it’s rare that families get along as well as ours and love spending time with each other as much as we do? I don’t know, either way, my prayer is my kids have the same relationship with each other as I do with my sibs/parents as they get older.

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At 6am the next day Adley Sue was waking me up asking to snuggle. Even though I was exhausted and wanted to roll over and sleep for 3 more hours, she is just too cute. And I am an absolute sucker for my nieces/nephews and requests for snuggles.

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I told Zach as much fun as I had back in Des Moines and as much as I missed seeing my family since we moved to Michigan I must say it felt really great to be home. Not just because I missed my hubs and kiddos so, so much but because I’m starting to get used to being a Michigander. Oh, also because Zach had found a paddle board and I got to cross off something on my bucket list-paddle board yoga! 😉

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Hope you had an equally amazing weekend!

And seriously-podcast recommendations, please!

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

I genuinely believe if you ask any adoptive mama their thoughts on Mother’s Day they would all tell you some variation of the word “conflicted”.

My friend Jody once said it best (and it has been spread throughout all the interwebs for all of the days. So awesome-and surreal-to see a friend quoted by random people in the Twitterverse and the Facebook. I always think, “If only they knew her in real life they would know this is at the bottom of the list of brilliant things she has said in our last phone conversation alone.”)

A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me. 

It’s impossible when looking at 3 of my sons on Mother’s Day to not think about the beautiful women who gave birth to them.

My heart is so full because their arms are empty.

None of that is lost on any of us adoptive mamas, at least none that I’m aware of.

I used to get a little melancholy on big holidays but I started to realize it wasn’t doing anyone any good. I want my kids to feel exactly what they are genuinely feeling. If they are feeling sad then I can walk through that with them. But if they are feeling genuine happiness and desire to spoil me rotten with abandon who am I to stop them?

And spoil me they did. Not anything out of the ordinary, per se, but there was more intentionality in their praises. If I’m being honest I love it more when they utter words of love or sweetness unprompted and without reason. Though I believe they meant every sweet sweet word they wrote yesterday, there’s just something about moments of vulnerability not sponsored by Hallmark. 😉

That said, my parents had “offered” to come help us paint Mother’s Day weekend. In hindsight, I’m so thankful they did as it would’ve been my first ever Mother’s Day wherein I wasn’t sharing it with my mom or Mom-in-law and sisters. Half the fun of being a mom is sharing the experience with those women so I am so grateful my mama was with us.

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It was just the second day (and first that Zach was with us) in which the temps reached high into the 80s. My parents have owned a boat since I was born so I would definitely consider myself a water baby. Of all the elements, water is where I find the most peace. Whether I’m in it or just near it, I am as close as I get to a fully realized individual. (My first shot at kayaking-I’m in love!!! Now that I’m used to paddling I’m wanting to switch to a stand up paddle board. And then paddle board yoga. Yes please!)

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I am not exaggerating when I say I think anything nice my kids might ever be able to say about me would only be true because Zach is such a great dad. The competitor in me can’t rest until I’m keeping pace with this guy. I’m always far behind, but that’s to be expected when they have Zach (who took the littles out to teach them how to properly paddle, and rescued our indoor kitty when he broke out into the great outdoors etc) for a dad.

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I got to spend an hour with Trysten in the hammock talking about life, love and his hopes/fears about middle school (he starts in the fall. Bless it). Certainly my favorite moments of motherhood are spent one-on-one with my kids when I rediscover who they truly are and when they can feel my supreme love for them.

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I’m not sure if you remember but I’m also a mama to 4 four-legged babies too. If you could see my pictures on my phone I would be totally embarrassed with the sheer amount of photos I have of my 2 dogs and 2 cats. I find them irresistible and adorable.

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Local beers were also involved because you guys, this is the best beer I’ve ever tasted. I love all of the Bell’s beer that I’ve tried.

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I loved all of my notes and gifts from my babes but this one was just precious. I could tell he spent a little more time on it, which made it super special. (Note: “Tomas creeping you out” is an inside joke. When Tomas first came home he really, really didn’t like me so he would just sit in a corner and stare at me. When we now talk about them first coming home we tease Tomas about “creepin'” on me and all have a good laugh. No need to worry, Tomas no longer creeps me out. 😉 )

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Look, I love being a mom. It’s my favorite. I’m often amazed to find I love motherhood even in the very worst moments. Even in the fear that I’m effing it all up, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my life. But I also believe yesterday was a day to celebrate the aunties in our lives that treat our babies so very well. Or the birth moms who can’t hear “mother” without thinking of loss. Or the women who have lost children who feel the same way. Because I am a mama of dogs and cats I recognize these women deserve a mention too-not everyone treats animals as humans-I think that’s pretty special.

So Happy (belated) Mother’s Day, fellow women. Thanks for inspiring me and encouraging me and helping me along the way. Many blessings.

Official Michigander

My whole life (except for a short, 1-year stint as a South Dakotan) I’ve been an Iowan. How weird to now call myself a Michigander.

We’ve lived here for just over a week now and I do believe we are settling in quite nicely. The kids started school a week ago today and are absolutely in love. They love their teachers, their new school and have made more friends than I could’ve hoped for in a week. That was my biggest prayer as their mama. Friends, please let them make friends! We were so pleased to discover one of Trysten’s friends lives directly across from our house on the lake. Doubly pleased to learn he has a sister in Dailah’s class! On Saturday that friend rowed his sister on over so they could play with our kids.

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There are many terrible ways people could describe me that would be true but “lazy” is not really one of them. (Although my marathon of The Walking Dead today might disagree). I can thank my parents-the hardest working people in the world-for teaching me to just keep working no matter how tired when there are things to be done. Thus the house is unpacked, the whole top floor is freshly painted and we even have our pictures hanging on the wall! 🙂

Can I just tell you that Zach has been the most amazing? He’s working really long hours and then still comes home to finish painting the top part of rooms or hang this or that. I have no doubt that if you were to ask him lately he would tell you he really hates that my love language is “acts of service” but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at him. What kind of man does something he hates for hours on end and asks to take a break only to go shoot hoops with his sons? That would be mine. Lucky, lucky lady.

As for me, I’m admittedly a little sad. I miss my friends. I miss my job. I miss knowing exactly where to go to get everything we need and who to call if I wasn’t sure. I miss having a bathroom that I didn’t have to share with some of my kids. 😉

But we’re doing it, you know? I’m so proud of all of us for putting ourselves out there and finding happiness in even the most mundane events. That’s what it takes right? To start to make a foreign place home? Find little bits of happiness whenever or wherever they come?

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