Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Letter to My Child(ren)

I missed you like crazy when I was in Russia.  Loving on those kids made me miss you that much more, and made me realize even more how blessed you are.  You have two loving parents, a multitude of doting grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunts...and even a few family friends who claim you as their family.  Even when the multiple family get-togethers all occur on the same day and we feel like pulling our hair out trying to be "fair" and get to all of them, we are SO blessed to have them.  I hope you'll understand that one day.

While I was there, we were able to Skype a few times and that made the separation a little easier.  You were definitely comic relief for me on a very emotional trip.  One night, you wanted to read a book with me and chose Go the F*%k to Sleep off of the bookshelf.  It's a hilarious book, but clearly NOT meant for children (though it is illustrated like a children's book, hence your confusion).  We'll have to put that one higher up on the bookshelf.

Your new favorite phrase is "Weeeell..." as in "I'm stalling because I don't want to do something."  Here's a typical conversation with you lately:
Me: "Gavin, it's time to take a bath."
You: "Weeeeell...I just playin."

I got you some pull-ups last week and you love them.  Serious potty training started Thanksgiving weekend and you're doing awesome.  You stay dry all day as long as we remind you to go.  The poop thing might take a bit longer.

We also moved you from your toddler bed into a full-size "big boy" bed and you love it.  You picked out rocket ship sheets and couldn't wait to get them on the bed.  You look so tiny in that huge bed that it made me a little weepy the first time I saw you in it.  I realized after we put the bed together that it also means we won't be rocking with you every night.  The rocking chair moved to the baby's room, and we read books and sing songs in your bed now.  You're SO big now, and couldn't be prouder of yourself.

I'm so proud of you, too, and wish I could just bottle up your sweet littleness right now before it's all gone.

I love you more,

I hope you like this nickname because it's what we've gotten accustomed to calling you.  It's your brother's fault, really, considering he wanted a "baby doctor" for the first several months of your existence.  He'd also like to name you either "Princess" or "Snow White," but that's where we're drawing the line.

Daddy and I have our name list narrowed down to three names we like now, one of which is consistently rising to the top.  We won't share your name until you're born though, so Doc it is for now.

You're kicking like crazy now, especially in the evenings.  Gavin got to feel you over Thanksgiving and I wish I'd had a video camera to capture your first interaction together.  His little eyes just lit up.  I just can't wait to see the two of you together once you're here.

Most babies will not have this story to tell, but you went to Russia while in utero this month!  You made me a little more tired than I was on the trip last year, but otherwise, it was a perfectly healthy trip for both of us.  One ride on the subway was particularly crowded and you voiced your dislike of the conditions by kicking a strange Russian man in the back.  I'm not sure if he noticed, but it sure was a big kick.

Keep growing and stay healthy.  I'm so excited to meet you 4-ish months!

I love you more,

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Gavinisms

After a particularly adult-like fart:
          Me: "That was a Daddy toot!"
          Gavin: "No, that was a Gavin toot!"

Passing by the tarp-covered pool in our subdivision:  "Summer is closed."

When measuring me with Daddy's measuring tape:
          Me:  "How tall am I?"
         Gavin:  "Bigger than me!"

On noticing his diaper was very saggy:  "Oops!  My butt fell out."

Pondering his size:  "I little and big!"

On growing older: "When I bigger, I be a grown-up man!"

On my return from Russia:  "Mommy!  I been looking for you!"

On Thanksgiving Day:
          Me: "Gavin, what are you thankful for?  What makes you happy?"
          Gavin: "My family!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I have so much to be thankful for.  So much, in fact, that it’s hard to write a post on thankfulness, especially after just coming back from Russia.  I see our excess here—ads screaming at us to BUY ALL THE THINGS! and it’s contrasted by the barrenness of the lives I’ve connected with there, halfway across the world.

I recently heard the quote: “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?”  With that in mind, here is my thankful list:

My Faith
I'm thankful for a God who loves me in spite of myself, and that believing in something bigger than me humbles me when I need it most.

My Family
Those who raised me, married me, and made me a mother.  I thank you for your constant encouragement, unfailing love and uncanny ability to put up with my shit.  And to my “family” who is not biologically family, including 40-some orphans in Russia—thank you for expanding my heart to include more than I knew it could hold.

My Friends
Those I lost long ago, those I'm still close with, and those I've yet to meet.  Thank you for letting me cry when I needed to, for making me laugh out loud when I needed that more, and for your general awesomeness.      

My Career
I'm so thankful for my job.  Not just that I have one, especially in this economy, but that I get to work on product every day that makes people smile, brings people closer together and adds a little meaning to their lives.  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May yours be as richly blessed as mine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

20 Weeks

I took pregnancy photos every two weeks with Gavin.  I haven't been that good this time—partially because I'm so caught up in life that I forget, and partially because I look back on those photos now and think, "OMG!  What the hell was I thinking taking those photos of myself.  I look like hell!"

I know, I know...pregnancy is beautiful...blah, blah, blah.  I don't feel beautiful. I feel huge. Already. But, I don't want this little guy to get slighted so I'll post pics once a month for him.  And for all of you who've been bugging me.  

Already this one's a little late in posting since I'm technically 21 weeks now, but that's okay.

A Poem on Russia (sort of)

I wrote this after I came home from the Russia trip last year.  I felt like I'd made no difference, except in myself.  If you read my last post on the trip, you know I feel differently about that now.  I'm not quite ready to write poems about this year's trip, but I wanted to put one out there about Russia.  

One Week at Velikoretskoye Orphanage
For Nastya

Put your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me.
                                    —Matthew West

I wanted to tuck her into my womb—
keep her safe and make her my own.
Her eager eyes and clinging arms
should run in my veins—her memory
beating through me with every pulse.
When I breathe, it should be her orphan
scent that billows into my lungs,
like the dusty lace curtains in her room
mingling with foreign skin.

She let me into her world for a week
and all I did was collect her gapped smile,
and high-pitched staccato laugh
to take home as souvenirs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Russia Recap: The Kids

People, I went to Russia at 5 months pregnant.  Who does that?  That’s the question I got before I left, while I was there and once I got back.  Once I got home, I found myself asking the same question, and I can’t believe I actually did it. 

But when I really stop and think about it, it’s not a surprise at all.  Last year, the trip ruined me.  I came home forever changed because of the people I met and the lives I was so privileged to touch.  Maybe it was because I was looking outside of my own world and doing something bigger than myself.  Maybe it’s because God used me to love on some kids who desperately needed love and acceptance.   Whatever it was, those kids stormed into my heart and set up camp last year.  How could I not go back?

Last year, my purpose for the trip was to meet Nastya, the little girl we sponsor through Children’s HopeChest.  Ryan and I had sponsored kids before through other organizations, but we sent our check every month and that was that.  This was an opportunity to actually meet this little person and get to know her.  It was an opportunity to actually become a part of her life. 

What I hadn’t expected was the bond I would form not only with Nastya, but a dozen or so other kids at the orphanage.  These kids are so hungry for love, and so desperate for someone to know them and remember them that bonds formed quickly and deeply.  I’d fallen in love with them and knew my life was forever changed. 

Still, I left the orphanage last year wondering if I’d made any real difference for them.  I only spent six days there, and they were still orphans, after all.  They’d been abandoned, abused, and neglected most of their lives.  And their future didn’t look that rosy either, not with society saying that they’re unworthy, unlovable and unwanted.  How could six measly days change anything in their world?

This year, I saw just what a difference six days can make.  Because we’ve consistently sent a team to spend six days with these kids every single year, they’ve come to trust us, and that’s a big deal for a kid who’s been let down his or her whole life.  It doesn’t matter that our team changes members or that we do different activities every year—what matters is that we are there consistently, every year, telling them they’re important and loved and that they matter.  What matters is that we remember them. 

Because I told these kids they were important to me, it suddenly made them feel like they were important in the world.  Little comments I made about how tall they’d gotten or how much their hair had grown acknowledged their existence.  Nowhere else can they see themselves through the passage of time, except through our eyes, and the photos we leave behind of them.

I knew I'd been changed when I came home last year, but I didn't entirely realize what had happened until I went back.  When I gave up my PTO at work, left my husband and child for ten days, used savings for an expensive trip—I'd sacrificed.  And because of that sacrifice, my reality shifted.  My friend, Steph says it well when she says, "it's eternal love manifesting in our world."  Because I was willing to sacrifice, God was able to use me to make a difference to a group kids halfway across the world.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Drumroll please...

It's a boy!
And as you can see from the photo, he was NOT shy about showing us his junk.  Gavin wasn't either.  I think I'm gonna have a couple of show-offs on my hands.

He was perfectly perfect in every way.  Just look at his sweet little face.
When we ask Gavin if he's excited about a baby brother, his reply is "or a baby doctor."  I think the excitement will come later.  I'm already all misty about the thought of brothers.  I think it will suit me to be the mother of sons.  Totally outnumbered, but totally in love.