Aidan at Beach

Aidan at Beach

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas, Russian Children.

When Pat and I decided to begin the journey to adopt, I had insisted that we needed to go to Russia.  Truthfully, yes, it was in part because of the messed up system of adoption here in the United States.  It was also in part because, since the fall of the Soviet Union, I had seen countless specials about the children left in orphanages who sat there glassy eyed and dazed without anyone to hold, hug and kiss on them.  I thought I could change the life of a child by being able to bring him or her home.

Boy was I wrong on that!!!  Okay, maybe we did change his life.  But, he has most definitely changed ours for the better!

But, before all of the change happened, we had to complete a mountain of paperwork; be checked out by our agency/the FBI/Child Protective Services/doctor upon doctor upon doctor upon doctor/the police/more doctors ad infinitem. . .and we had to wait.  We had to wait for all of the paperwork to come back so we coul sign it, have it notarized and apostilled, and send it off to the agency to be checked and then redo some of it and then send it back again and then off to Russia to be checked.  And in the meantime, we also had to wait because Russian adoptions were shut down due to all of the agencies needed to be re-accredited.  It. Was. Never. About. Money.

There have been countless times since those days, including while we were in country, that another shut down was threatened due to this or that--I am in no way minimizing the deaths of any child here.  But, as many others have also said, there are many thousand Russian children living here in the United States who are healthy, normal and living wonderfully normal lives without any kind of abuse what-so-ever. 

In most Regions, children are in a baby home from infancy to about 4 years old.  They then move up to a Secondary Home.  Where they typically remain for the rest of their growing up.  Unless they are adopted, of course.  So, at the age of 4, a child is then placed in a home with children up to 16 or 17 years old.  While many have not been overtly abused, aside from the leaving them in the crib all day or not changing the diaper all day or the setting them on the potty at twelve months and told to sit there until they go. . .my son was actually given tea with lemon and sugar every day as part of his snack.  At 16 months old!  Talk about a crazy caffeine withdrawal when we got custody of him. . .

Anyway, these little 4 years are then abused (beaten, harranged, etc.) by the older children.  Most of whom think this is normal behavior because it was done to them! 

So, basically, the Russian Government is now on the verge of condemning 600,000 or so children to neglect, abuse and a lifetime of misery because of politics.  Right.  That's how you push our buttons, Russia.

Meanwhile, my son, who is very loving and sensitive and loves his birth country as much as his adoptive country, gets upset to tears when he hears people here talking about how stupid (bad word, Mama!  You get a ticket!) Russia is acting!  And what am I supposed to tell him?  I agree with the comments, but I can't tell him that!  I love him too much to hurt his beautiful heart any more than it already has been!  I will likely never tell him he was actually rejected by a Russian family. . .that just breaks my heart to think about it.

And so we pray that all involved will have cooler heads and calmer hearts and think beyond the immediate issues and more about who stands to lose in this situation.  The 600,000 or so children will definitely lose. 

I can't even begin to imagine the anguish the 46 families are experiencing right now who are caught in the waiting period.  And I can't even begin to imagine what those 46 children might think of their country later when they find out that they were condemned by their government to a life of misery in a forgotten hole called an orphanage.

God help us all if we can't think of our children first.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

Well, we certainly are being favored these days. . .first the Redskins are on such a roll that they are assured a playoffs spot. . .AND we are going to have a White Christmas!!!!!

Yesterday, the forecast for today was rain and sleet mix.  Nice.  Not a happy thought at all.  But, as today dawned, we began hearig reports of snow coming up from the southwest.  And, it arrived here just after lunch!!
Aidan finally got outside and started to play. . .and play. . .and play!!!  And the neighbors joined in, too. . .

And so, we are ready for Christmas now.  I'm hanging out by the fire and our beautiful tree and soon, they boys will come in and we'll have a nice dinner and quiet evening. . .Ahhh. . .love Christmas like this.

And, as you can see, we are ready for Santa. . .we even made some fresh baked cookies for him to put out on our special Santa plate!

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nightmares, Teeth and Santa Claus

I am sure I am not alone in wanting to continuously hug my baby these days.  In fact, on Friday, it was the hardest thing in the world to wait for Aidan to arrive at his after school care so I could see him on the camera.  If I could have reached through the computer screen. . .

Tragedies are all bad but senseless tragedies are the worst.  How do you talk to your child about it?  My response was to not have the TV on all weekend and we haven't watched the news at all while he has been up.  I wanted to shelter Aidan from the knowledge that someone could really do this horrible thing. 

On Monday morning, during breakfast, I quietly told Aidan that he might hear about some scary things that happened far away but that he is safe.  I then told him to ask us any questions he has when he got home that evening.

I didn't want to say anything at all to Aidan.  I knew I'd get choked up, which I did while saying the little bit that I said.  But, I knew there is always that one child who seems to know all the details of bad things and feels the need to share it.  So, I had to say something.  Amazingly, there has been no mention of it from him at all.  Thanks be to God.

If he thinks I've been over huggy and kissy, he hasn't seemed to mind it.  So, I'll just keep it up. 

Just to turn away from that nightmare for a bit:

Aidan has been complaining about his back teeth hurting for a couple of weeks.  First one side, which then subsided and now the other side.  Yesterday, he was really complaining so I felt around back there and felt some bumpy areas.  I was clueless.  Thinking I'd have to schedule a dentist appointment, I decided to google six year old teeth.  And guess what???  Children get another set of molars sometime between the ages of 5 and 7!!!  Really!!!  I had no idea. . .AND, when this happens, their front teeth begin to fall out. 

SO!  With that knowledge, I felt around in Aidan's mouth again last night and guess what???  There is a tooth coming through on one side!  At first Aidan didn't like the idea of getting MORE teeth, especially since he hasn't lost any yet!  But, when I explained that this likely means his front teeth will now start falling out, he was super excited!!! 

Goofy Mama!!  I just don't remember my teeth at six. . .

And finally, our visit to Santa Claus last week was really fun and delightful.  Aidan found out he is on the nice list and also that Pat and I are too!  : )  He had a great conversation with Santa and then took an awesome picture.  Have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

26 and 5 and very special indeed!

Well, amazingly, here we are at December 13th again!  This is a big day in our house.  Lots of great things happen to us on this day. 

26 years ago, Pat and I stood before a wonderful priest at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Herndon, Virginia and said our vows before God, our family and our friends.  When I look in the mirror and see the evidence of time marching inexorably across my face (and my hair!!. . .and pretty much the rest of me, too) I can see that 26 years have passed.  But, without that mirror, my heart is still full of love and excitement  for and about our plans for the future.  I love my husband with my whole heart and soul and love the life we have created together.

We have had so many wonderful realized dreams:  we live in a beautiful town in a beautiful house (not that that is super important, but it does make life easier); we have great jobs that have been steady and secure;  we have good friends and loving and understanding families; We don't NEED anything.  And we have a beautiful, loving, caring, and smart son who delights us each and every day.  We are soooo blessed!!!

And speaking of that wonderful son, 5 years ago today, we got our petition to the courts to finalize our paperwork and to indicate what we wanted to change our sons name to.  This was the final piece to submit on our journey to making Aidan our son and completing our Forever Family.  To celebrate, we ordered dinner in that evening and painted our baby boys bedroom Russian Blue.  It was an Anniversary, our 21st!, I will never forget.

And to ceebrate our Anniversary this year, we have some fun plans!  Aidan will come home on the school bus and he and Pat will do what little bit of homework he has. . .he did some of it last night at my insistence!  He will then get dressed in his new Christmas outfit.  When I get home, we will all head down to Dulles Town Center to see Santa!!!  And then we will do a little Christmas shopping for Aidan's teachers and then head out to dinner.  But, shhhhhh!!!!  Aidan doesn't know about the Santa and shopping part!  : )  He thinks we are going to make him get dressed up to "just go have dinner with Mama and Daddy." 

I love that our Anniversary is at Christmas time.  I love that the whole world in in preparation to celebrate the Coming of Jesus.  Our Anniversary gets lost in all the excitement some years, but Pat and I never forget how joyous and special it is that we are together in this life: For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.  Amen.

I should end there, but I have to share this incredibly funny video of our son.  Aidan figured out how to do this thing that kind of looks like a clown riding a very small bicycle. Only, there is no bicycle.  I think Aidan is really showing his Russian roots here.  You be the judge:
Can't you just see him doing that Russian dance where the legs get kicked out in front of him?  So funny!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fun Christmas Traditions

Yesteray was St. Nicholas day.  So, it was entirely appropriate that we had a visit in the evening from the guy in the red suit. 

Each year, our fire department takes Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman around all the neighborhood of the town.  They used to be able to do this in one night--about 20 years ago when we first moved to Leesburg.  However, now it is about an eight night adventure.  And last night was our night. 

Pat and I knew it was going to happen--I had looked it on the fire departments website--so we planned and evening of activities in the family room so we could hear them coming.  Around 7:30, we started to hear the sirens. . .they kept getting closer, and closer until finally, just before 8:00, we got Aidan into his slippers, coat and hat and ran outside!!!  And just in time, too!!!

As with the last two years, Aidan was upset that he didn't get a candy cane. . .he keeps forgetting that that happens during the parade. . .which is this Saturday!!!  : )  I just love how excited he gets for these little town traditions.

Speaking of traditions, Steopa the elf arrived last Saturday.  He brought our usual Advent Calendar filled with goodies.  Aidan is allowed to open one pocket each evening after dinner--just in case it is a sweet treat that day.  Although, there have been other treats this year:  Day one was a brand new green mouth guard for hockey!!!  And I'm pretty sure I felt some hockey tape and even a new outside puck. . .Yesterdays was a new ornament of Black Beard.  Aidan was hanging it on the tree when we started to hear the sirens for Santa!!!

Steopa also brought another really cool Avent Calendar.  It may become a tradition now.  It is a Lego Advent Calendar.  Aidan opens one box each morning and puts a lttle something together.  Eventually, there will be a whole Christmas Village.  Pretty neat!

Finally, last Sunday, some friends came over to bake Christmas cookies.  I made the Martha Washington Candy--108 peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate!!  And my friend Kim made these interesting sugar cookie cups filled with nutella.  Very sweet, but very yummy.  We had a cookie exchange at work on Monday and I think it was a success.  Just a lot of cookies to make!  And the kids got into the act by making and decorating sugar cookies.  It was a lot of fun. . .if a bit messy!  : )

Next tradition to experience will be the parade.  We're looking forward to it!  We were in Williamsburg during last years parade so this one will be extra fun! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Time Is Here. . .

Our Christmas cards should be arriving today.  I really like them.  Last year, I started doing a card design on Snapfish that includes several pictures.  I used pictures, primarily of Aidan, from throughout the year.  Loved it!  I found another one, but better for this year.  Can't wait to see it! 

I have gotten incredibly lazy when it comes to Christmas cards.  I used to buy them and then handwrite on each of them:  signature, addresses, and sometimes a short note.  Now, I have the signature done through the company I buy the cards, and my sentiments are also pre-done--I do come up with it myself, though.  I just hang onto the fact that the pictures tell the story of what we have been up to this past year. 

Normally, at Christmas time, I like to wait until our Anniversary (December 13th) to put up our tree and start lighting outside lights.  I might start after Thanksgiving--which is usually the first weekend of Advent--on some indoor decorating, but not be done with it until December 13th.  It's nice that way because we aren't tired of it before Christmas gets here.  This year, I was over ruled.  We did ALL of it the weekend after Thanksgiving--a full week before Advent began!  I'm just hoping it doesn't all come down the day after Christmas. . .I tend to get a little nuts if there is too much clutter. . .

It is pretty, though.

The boys put the tree together. . .

I got the lights on the way I like them. . .lots and lots of lights!!!

Put out the Father Frost on the Mantle with some greenery and a deer. . .

The train was set up. . .and played with. . .

And voila!  A picture worth a thousand words. . .
The thing that is really cool this year is that the tree lights are reflected in the floor!  I can just imagine Christmas Eve with the fire going and the tree lights on, it will be a warm and happy place. . .not that it isn't already, of course!!

I have our Christmas dinner menu pretty much set.  Now I just need to shop for the food for it. . .in a couple of weeks.  Most of the gifts have been purchased, too.  Tons of wrapping to do, though!  I do have a couple of gifts left to purchase, but I am not on a time cruch to do them.  I can wait a bit.  This week I am planning to get the cards done and mailed and do a lot of wrapping.  By next weekend, I should be in excellent shape to sit back and just enjoy the season.  Hmmm . . .that's pretty early, too!  That will be great.

Aidan and I will be baking some tasty cakes for the neighbors in a couple of weeks.  We do this each year and take some homemade Irish Cream to many of them, too.  It's fun for he and I to do this together.  Yesterday some friends came in the afternoon and we made 8 dozen each of cookies: hers were sugar cookies filled with Nutella, very sweet, but yummy and mine are Buckeyes--also known here in Virginia as Martha Washington Candy.  Why so many?  Well, today is a Cookie excange at our work.  We needed 6  1/2 dozen for the exchange, which left some for us at home, too.  After today, I will have tons of cookies!!  I may have more to bake:  chocolate chip and Christmas M & M cookies, but that will be about it!  Aidan will love helping with those.

Aidan's hockey team won yesterday.  Aidan seems to have slipped back into being intimidated again so he was not very productive.  Well, that's not really true.  He had three assists, which were awesome--some really good passing.  But, he wasn't engaging himself in going after the puck.  I think he'll settle down again.  It was likely being off for two weeks that threw him back. 

With this win, and another team's loss, our Grey Wolves are likely in the top six.  After half the season, which was yesterdays game, the 12 teams are split into two divisions:  Upper 6 and Lower 6.  We are pretty sure our boys just made the Upper 6 cut off.  Now we will play 12 more games 2 against each team.  And then there will be a championship tournament.  We will find out for sure in a day or so where we stand along with getting the new schedule etcetera. 

Well, back to work today.  That was one fast weekend!!!