Friday, June 28, 2013

Keeping It Real

i'm so tired that i could (and actually want) to fall over.  i've even attempted sleep already.  for all of about 3 minutes, i laid in bed and closed my eyes.  closed them long enough to realize that i was not ready for this day to end.

yet again, i come to the close of another birthday.  echo in april, zane in may and now reese and maddox in june.  i don't know what it is about their birthdays.  i love them.  i love that i get to reminisce on what this day is, what it was, and what it will be.

today, june 27th, is special because it was the day that i took on a new name.


this is a title that i hold very dear.  a title that i hear much too often.  a name that i often try and hide from, plug my ears to and roll my eyes at.

"mommy, mom, mother, mama, mummy, mum, moooooaaaam, but mommy, mom can i, no mommy, yes mommy, mom can i, mom can you, mama i want, mommy i need....."  

i can't tell you how many times i've hidden in the pantry this summer.  intentionally walked out of a room.  slinked my way out of an area.  closed (and locked) the bathroom door....for just a moment of peace.

but today, today i welcomed the name calling.  the name rang loud and clear.  today i was able to hang out with the two of them alone.  zane and echo were at a day camp and so i was able to have a true "reese and maddox day".  it was fantastic, easy, silly and fun.  they are two little people with strong opinions, deep emotions and fantastically humorous personalities.

they are 7.

last night i had tucked in my 6 year old twins for the last time.  i knew that from that moment on, they would never be 6 again.  and it's not that 6 is some golden number.  however, if i'm being honest, i will say that i'm a even-number-kind-of-girl....odd numbers are not as cool...unless you are talking about number 13...which is my most favorite and most lucky number of all.  and then odd is's very good!

i digress...

after kissing them in their sleep last night and going to bed, i realized that the clock keeps ticking.  and it ticks fast.  i've barely blinked and the years have gone by.  who are these two seven year olds and where did my babies go?  not that i'm sad!  noooo, i'm thrilled with their ages.  they are funny, smart, conversational, inquisitive, rational (most of the time) and down right fun to be around.  i love this age!  i think the next few years are going to be a blast (as long as that pantry is available for me to hide in).  yes, i'm excited about this coming year.  and i'm shocked that it came so soon.

7 years ago today, i became a mother to two tiny human beings.  to me, there is no greater title on earth.    it was a title that i dreamed of, welcomed, celebrated, longed for.  it is still all of those things.  that one day, 7 years ago, changed so much for me.

as i went up tonight to watch them sleep as i do most every night...because i'm one of those freaky moms who stands over her children's beds at night....(i swear, one day one of them is going to wake up at age 15 and completely freak out and lose their ever loving mind when they see me standing over them).  and as i stood there, i realized that one day can make such a huge difference.  reese and maddox walked around all day today, strutting their 7 year old stuff, thinking and acting like they were so big.  they were even talking about how they were going to do things differently, "now that i'm 7".  this was like a new year's day for them.  making resolutions, vows and promises.  i loved it.  out with the old, in with the new!

some of these promises they may keep, some will fade away, some flew out the door the moment the words came out of their mouths.  however, some promises will slowly set in and become natural and normal.  because as they get older, they will just start losing some of their old ways, some of the young, immature things they do, the baby in them will drift further and further away.  they will lose it.  it will be gone.

maybe that's why i hold onto birthdays so tightly.  maybe it's why i don't want the day to end.  however, i guarantee you, if one woke up and came down right now, i would totally go into my pantry. either that, or play possum right here on my couch.  stone cold still is what i would be, in hopes that they don't come down to ask for water or a band-aid, or anything else that they can conjure up at this time of night.  i mean, i loved this day...but i'm too tired.  and, let's be honest, the best times for a mother to sit and think, is late at night, when the children are sleeping.  and they are quiet...oh dear precious mercy...

they.  are.  quiet!

i don't know that i learned any valuable lesson today or tried to inspire myself with words or feelings.  i just enjoyed the day.  just lived it for what it was worth.  enjoyed being with the two crazy beings who got this whole family going in such a wild and fun direction.  i just simply enjoyed simple today.  it was a really good day.

happy birthday, reese and maddox.  thank you for my new title 7 years ago.   you changed everything about me (from cool, chick girl to maniac mama).  you made me see the world differently (germy and dangerous).  you changed my heart and you sent my life into orbit from the moment i held you both in my arms (and tried to figure out how to simultaneously nurse you).  there is no greater title for me to have, so thanks for being the first to set it into motion.  and thanks for forcing me to keep my sense of humor during the craziest times of my life.  you've turned me into a maniac, germophobic, panic sticken, confused and humbled girl.  how can i not see the humor in all of that!?

thanks for keeping it real.  i love you both endlessly.

"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him."  Luke 2:40

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Day...Gotcha!

on this very day, two years ago, they handed you over and placed you in my arms.  it was like no other "birth" i'd ever experienced but it was one that i had dreamed of for several years.

First contact.  May 30, 2011

i shake as i write.

i'm not sure if it's the overindulgence of coffee from this morning or the fact that i know you will one day read this and it scares me to think how you will interpret my words.  i never know with you.  you always keep me on my toes, testing me, taunting me....teaching me.

just yesterday, i found some of your diaries that were kept for you at your orphanage by your nannies and various missionaries that visited your orphanage.  there are so many names, so many who held you, so many who gave you hugs and kisses.  so many who loved you.  all of them, i had once prayed for, even though i'd never known them, nor would i ever.

they called you eve.  that was your name in the orphanage.  eve.  you also had the name yu yi.  another name.  and then in we came.  two big white people who swooped you up and started calling you echo?  how were you to know who you are?  how were you to know your name?

so many names.

as i went through your things and placed them in your room, i could not help but feel a million emotions.  one was excitement.  your new room.  this bedroom that i envisioned you in the moment we moved in.  once i saw that we would have a "spare" bedroom, i knew deep within that it would not be spare for long.  no, not for long.  i remembered moving into this house in december.  by january, i began my search for you and my focus became secretly neurotic by february.  i was determined to get you in that room as quickly as possible.  time was of the essence it seemed.

i also felt sadness.  so many things you had to go through to get where you are.  i can be so impatient with you at times, pushing you along, forcing you to blend in, buck up, get it right, calm down, speed up, act right, smile, eat your dinner, don't eat too much, use your words, don't talk now...

so many rules.

and i must be honest that i felt a twinge of anger.  i wanted more of your history.  i wanted a letter from your birth mom.  there.  i said it.  she held onto you for 2 months before placing you at the back door of your orphanage.  she had quiet moments with you, she fed you, she put you to sleep, she carried you for nine months!  just a letter... a tiny letter for me to have. for you to have.  i wanted a letter.  i wanted to know more about you.  i wanted to keep that among all of your most precious keepsakes.  i cry now thinking about it.  it makes me angry that i get angry about this simple thing.  a letter.  i should be much stronger than this by now.  i should have an answer for you, ready for the day that you ask questions that will rock my world.  questions about your birth mom, the who's, the why's, the what ifs.  yes, i should be ready.  and i'm not.  i have no idea what i will say to you one day when you ask these things.  you didn't come with a manual and so half the time, i just have to wing it.

i wing it.  the best way i can.  and even when it's my best, i fail.  there are days that i'm scared you won't love me like i love you.  it makes me want to pull away, to keep my distance, to keep you at arms length so that i don't get hurt when you tell me one day that i'm not the mom you wanted.  i know that's silly for an adult to feel that way.  but i wonder if you feel that way too sometimes.  maybe we feel those emotions together?  maybe we are both afraid of loving too much.  maybe we are afraid to let some of our walls down.

July 2011

today marks two years.  "gotcha day".  i first heard about this day from a little girl named jade.  i taught her in 2nd grade before having children of my own.  she was spunky and bright.  a total tom-boy.  we were in line, going to the lunchroom when i asked her, "why are you so bouncy today?"  (truly, i'd never seen her in such high spirits before!)  she told me that this was her "gotcha day".  i had no idea what that was but wanted to know more.  she told me all about it.  she told me that this was her best day, even better than her birthday!  and then she said, "my mom loves this day!"  i choke back tears even now.  little jade and her mom shared that day together.  of course her mother loved it.

i love this day too.  i love this day because it was the first day i held you, the first day we became a complete family.  it was our family birth day.  you completed it.  in my moments of guilt for loving this day more than your birthday, i remind myself of jade and her bouncy little walk that day.  i remind myself that THIS is the day that we share together.  THIS is our day.  this is not the miracle of conception or the miracle of birth but rather the miracle of adoption.  because it is a miracle that you, of all the chinese babies, you were the one they placed in my arms.  you were the one i'd waited for.

you had so many names until that point, but in that moment you had a new name.  mine.  you were mine, you are mine, you will always be mine.  and as scary as that may be for you, it is forever true.  you can't get rid of me.  i'm yours.

echo, you are such a bright and loving little girl.  you love attention, hugs, laps to sit in, people to spoil you.  you crave approval in almost all areas.  you strive to succeed and loath failure.  you are witty.  you are kind.  you are a grouchy morning person.  (you make me and your sister look like angels in the morning!)  you adore your brothers, you admire your sister, you're in awe of your daddy.  you love being outside.  you are impatient, you are stubborn.  you are a fighter.

my favorite spot to kiss you is right in between your eyes.  i love how soft your skin is.  i love your nose, your brown eyes and the mysterious way that your eyelids smoosh your lashes down but they never seem to get in your eyes...i love your beauty spot on your arm.

happy Gotcha Day to my sweet, loving, spunky, naughty, fighting, whining, stubborn little girl.  this is our day, echo.  this is my letter to you, as your mom.

now we have a letter.

let's put it in your keepsake box.

March 2013

April 2013

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."  Numbers 6:24-26

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Little White Flag

i've taken a moment to sit down.  i can count on one hand how many times my bottom has met the couch in the last several weeks.  it seems every time i get close to contact with this beloved piece of furniture, something needs to be done, someone needs me or there is somewhere i need to go.  and although my older children have found a new independence after moving back, there is still much that i have to do with them, for them and to them.

the day we moved back, my older two children asked if they could start waking before me to fix their own breakfast.  usually they wake me to help them or lay in bed until they know i'm up.  lately, they've wanted to get up and do it themselves.  they promised to clean up after they finished.  i had to give this a bit of thought.  it might be kinda nice to have some help in the mornings.  normally, my day starts with an elbow in the face or a knee in my pelvis, and hearing a small child say, "is it morning time?!" or "the sun is up!"  this is followed by my mother-octopus arms going into full effect as i single-handedly feed my tiny army in less than 30 minutes.  usually they all request a different breakfast and i find myself making not one, but 3-4 different breakfasts.  hmmm, yes, having them do for themselves might be nice...i'll wave that white flag.  i surrender.  you guys give it a go.  see how it works out.  i give.  so after watching reese and maddox complete the task on their own for 3 days in a row, i decided they could do it.  they haven't looked back since and continue to surprise me with their independence.  they've even taught zane how to fend for himself in the mornings.  oh sweet relief.

thank goodness i waved my white flag.  i've never known what it is like to fix breakfast for one child.  echo's eggs have never been so warm, her banana cut so freshly...and my coffee?  oh yes, it is hot as well.

last week, i had cleaned the closets and reached a point of mental and physical exhaustion.  i put echo down for a nap and somehow managed to get horizontal on our couch.  the children were watching wipe out.  zane had made his way over to press his little body into mine saying, "move over a little mommy, i want your warm spot."  

really?  i just got here?  i can't even have my own "warm spot" because you want to take even that.  but i was so tired, i moved over to have him take over.  i waved my white flag.  i give up.  i give in.  i surrender.  after letting me rest for a few minutes, zane turned to me and got right in my face.  "mommy, are you sick?"  i told him no.  "mommy, am i sick?"  i told him no and briefly thought how sad that he thinks one of us must be sick just because i've laid down.  but before i could think anymore, he replied, "good, because i want to kiss you on the lips."  and with that he grabbed my face and laid one on me.

thank goodness i waved my flag in that moment.  a passionate kiss from a freshly turned 5 year old is rare and wonderful.

and a few days ago, echo had one of her days where words could or would not form for her.  when she gets into her mood, it is as if she is locked up and no one can find the key.  this was her day.  pure lock-down.  i'm a talker, a thinker, a communicator.  so to have this one shut down on me is pure torture.  it makes me want to kick and scream and cry.  heath has described it like putting two immovable forces in front of each other.  i fight, she fights, i step up, she steps up.  i push her to talk, she sits in silence.  we were late for an event, a friend's retirement, that i had been looking forward to for months.  we were late because she refused to pee in the potty, even though i knew she had to go.

i got her into the car along with the other hoodlums, ran back into the house to grab something and stopped for a quick prayer, i was desperate.  "Lord, help me to love this child when she seems unlovable like this.  i give up.  i give in.  i need help.  i need Your heart and Your eyes.  i wave my flag.  i surrender."  

i have found, since that plea, that i've regained a little more patience.  i've had the dearest of friends reach out to comfort and help.  i've been given contacts of professionals to call for her speech therapy.  i've been given hope.  not that hope was lost at all!  no, this little one is far from hopeless.  honestly, i think she is such a strong cookie!  she is strong, capable and resilient.

i'm so glad i waved that white flag.  i've waved my little echo flag quite a bit.  it shouldn't amaze me when God swoops in and lifts me up or holds me tight to get me through, and yet, it is still amazing that He answers.  such a tiny request.  such a huge answer.

yes, my white flag has been used quite a bit these last few weeks.  usually i like to regard myself as a fighter, one who needs little, one who can laugh her way out of anything, one who can see the light at the end of any tunnel.  but there are moments when i just have to give up.  give in.

wave my little white flag.

i constantly tell myself to buck up, fight the good fight, hang in there, be strong, keep going, find my way, feel my way, fight my way through whatever is going on in life.  big and small.  but it's the moments and times when i wave my flag that everything becomes more clear, more manageable, more freeing.  i gain perspective.  i gain insight.  i gain patience and peace.

last night i told echo is was time for daddy to take her up to bed. i expected her to give me that pouty face and shut down.  toddlers know when they are the first to go to bed.  she knows very well that the other get to stay up later and she can't stand it.  i asked for a kiss and told her i loved her.  she simply stood up and looked at all of us and said, "i love you guys".  i think my jaw hit the ground right that second.  and then she went down the line, "i love you reesie, i love you zane, i love you maddox, i love you mommy, i love you daddy."

maybe she's waving her flag too.  maybe she's giving in just a little as well.  maybe she's letting her wall down, surrendering.

you know that phrase, "God never gives us more than we can handle".  well, i believe we do have times in our lives where there is more than we can handle.  and it's in those times that we have to call on  The Big upstairs to pull us through.  i was making that phone call.  "i need You."

the wilson summer started 5 weeks ago.  we have more than 2 months to go.  i'm going to wrangle these kids the best way i can, honor independence where i need to, steal passionate kisses when i can, and communicate as often as possible.  i'm also going to keep a few little white flags in my back pocket.  i never know when i'm going to have to throw one up.

moms, it's summer time.  get your flags ready.

"Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup...If only I had known you better, I'd have come running with a bucket."  -Nancy Spiegelberg 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't Close The Door

i've caught myself saying a common phrase over the last couple of weeks since we've been back in the states.

"don't close the door!" when the three big kids clamber in the car and shut echo out so that she can't get in.  seriously, that's just mean.

"don't close the door!" when the children are playing upstairs, running and slamming doors while laughing and yelling.  i can just visualize a finger getting smashed.

"don't close the door."  while echo "helps" to put groceries away.  i leave all cabinets and fridge doors open while i unload.  time saver.

"don't close the door." as the children run outside to play.  i need to hear them from the kitchen as i clean up after the meal.

"don't close the door."  as i open the dishwasher.  i like to have them air-dry overnight.

"don't close the door." i say to heath as we go to sleep at night.  i want to make sure the children know they can come in at any time.

i have wanted to sit down and write about my last couple of days while in london and yet, the days (and now weeks) are starting to go by.  i feel as though i did not put a final stamp on my time there.  i left it open and undone.  messy and without closure.  i don't like to leave things in any of these ways so i needed to sit down and write.

our last few days were just what i thought they would be, rushed, stressful and quick.  our last few days were unexpected in that i thought we would be able to do just a little bit more before we left, a few more sites to see, a couple more places to go.  and our last days were everything i hoped they would be, sweet goodbyes to friends and neighbors, trainers, baristas and david.  our last few days held a little bit of every emotion and it was all wrapped into one.  i bet that's the way that most goodbyes usually go.

saying goodbye to our porters was tough.  the children and i wrote them letters and we went by and said our thanks and gave our farewells.  it was difficult to leave them, the "safety", that they had been for almost two years for us.  these men had kept up with our going and coming on a daily basis.  i think it's safe to say that they knew us better than most, if by only watching how we go in and out all day long.  a continuous revolving door.  not to mention their desk was right by our front door.  i'm sure they heard more than they wanted to.  and our huge front window was right where they positioned themselves during the day.  i'm guessing they saw enough as well.  poor guys.

we said goodbye to Flat 1.  i walked through each room as the children waited outside talking with the porters.  i took in the sights, the smells, the sounds.  it brought me back to the day we first moved in and how we began this journey in the first place.  we had filled this flat with love and laughter, tears, potty training, bedtime stories, cooked turkeys, burnt dinners, movie nights, dance parties...the list is endless.  we had filled it and now it was empty.  all those memories were packed up.  as i left, i felt "don't close the door".  because to close it would feel too painful.

we walked across the street to see david.  i'd written david a three page letter.  yes, hand-written.  i can't tell you the last time i wrote a three page, hand-written letter....high-school maybe?  i'm serious.  who hand-writes letters anymore?  i had written all the things that i'd wanted to say to david but never took the time, had the guts or felt the need to say.  i wrote it all out.  honestly, it seemed almost like a love-letter.  that sounds really silly.  but it was more of a love-letter than anything else.  how could it not be?  i loved him.

when we saw david, the children rushed to him and began to tell him that we were leaving, today was our last day.  he knew this day was coming and he asked them questions and smiled and acted excited for them.  i handed him my note and a few quid and asked him to read it, please don't throw it away.  please keep it and read it.  we talked awhile longer, got a quick photo of him and the children, gave big hand squeezes and walked away.  i turned around to see him opening the letter as soon as we walked away.  he couldn't wait to read it.

the baristas at our local starbucks had asked us to come by on our last day.  they presented us with a london mug that had been signed by each employee.  the 6 of us sat by a window and had our last cup of coffee together....well, the kids had a hot chocolate and echo had a babyccino...

as we hailed our last taxi and were piling in, we saw david across the street and gave our final waves and shouts.  the kids were yelling across the street to him like he was their uncle buck and we were only leaving for a holiday.  we clambered in, "don't close the door" crept to my mind.  as we pulled away, i continued to wave to david like i, myself, was 6 years old.  and then the tears came, fast and furious.  big, wet tears as we pulled out of church street and onto kensington high street.  sweet maddox put his hand on my knee and asked, "are you crying because you'll miss david?"

i'm crying because i will miss everything.  i'm crying because i hate goodbye.  i'm crying because our journey is over.  i'm crying because i'm sad.  i'm crying because i'm happy.  i'm crying because we are going home.  home.

our flight home turned out to be one of the best trips.  not only were the kids easy and fantastic, but it was the pilot's final flight.  we were greeted in atlanta with two huge firetrucks hosing the plane down as a celebratory retirement tradition.  the pilot's family were all on the aircraft and we signed his uniform for him before landing.  we saw him later at baggage claim and he gave our children sweet treats and wings to wear on their shirts.  he was having one of the best nights of his life.  his smile said it all.

he was certainly closing a door.

and when we arrived home, we pulled into our driveway to see balloons, a welcome home banner, gifts for the kids, sweet tea and other surprises.  our fridge had unknowingly been stocked and the house was cleaned.  we have amazing friends indeed.  indeed.

and to open the door to our home and take in the sights, the smells, the sounds....home.  truly, there is no place like it.  in that moment, as i closed the door, i felt the weight come off.  the fear, the anxiety, the commotion, the confusion, the excitement, the anticipation.  i felt it all come off.  and i knew it was okay.

i closed the door.

i closed it gently, lightly, timidly.

i closed it quietly.

it's okay to close doors.  we have to close a few to open others, right?  it's what we do in life.  we stop.  so we can begin again.  we close.  so we can open.

the fast pace of life hasn't stopped for us since moving out of the city.  it's only gotten more busy.  we are back to reality.  reality is good.

in the last two weeks we've had many doors open over here, car doors, house doors, bathroom doors, closet doors...oh, the closet doors as i clean, straighten and organize those closets!  i don't like to have these doors closed.  i like to have them open.

there is still so much in this life to do.  our children are so young.  we have many new beginnings coming our way.  i have to keep an open mind and an open heart with everything that comes our way.  "don't close the door", i tell myself.

keep it open.  

be ready for anything.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Letting Some Out

it’s bedtime.  all i want to do is rest my head on a big fat pillow and fall fast asleep for the next 48 hours.  i am so tired and so drained that i don’t know where to begin or end.  i feel as though i've not truly slept in the almost 2 years that we've been here.  (wait, i'm a mom...make that almost 7 years.)  today we spent much of the day sorting through clothes  and bathroom supplies (what to trash, what to save).  in our spare moments, we made phone calls and sent emails to prepare for our last few days here and our first few days back in the US.  the list seems endless of “to dos”.

this weekend was much different.  saturday and sunday were filled with cheerful cleaning, sorting, boxing, tossing, laughing....and dinners with friends.  saturday night we had dinner with some of our american friends that we met when we first moved here.    a jersey couple with two precious daughters who were in school with our own.  we ate, we laughed, we seemed like a night as any other.  even the hug was “see ya later”.  though i believe we held our hugs a little longer and a little tighter this time.

i sit here now and know that “later” could be a very long time away.

sunday we had dinner with one of heath’s co-workers.  he invited us to his home in windsor to have a proper sunday meal cooked by his wife.  they had done the same thing over two years ago when we came with our ( then three) children to visit london and get a feel of the area.  they have two fantastic children who’ve grown from young boys into really handsome young men.  we ate, we laughed, we seemed like it was all just beginning again.  it seemed as though we’d only been there doing the same thing yesterday...

last night we said goodbye to emma.  i can barely type the words.  our beloved nanny.  my fifth child.  we helped one another in so many ways that i’m sure either of us could never be able to count or put into words.  both of us here on a 2 year visa, trying to make our way in a big city.  we’ve laughed, we’ve cried and we’ve shared very memorable moments together.  saying goodbye to her was as difficult as i was afraid it would be.

and today, after walking up and down my long hallway countless times to pack, sift and sort, i was able to go to the gym to train.  half-way into it, my chest felt heavy and my head felt cloudy.  i could feel the stress that i’ve pushed way down deep begin to surface.  it felt as thought it was seeping from my pores.  begging to be released.

don’t keep me in, let me out.

heath and i have talked for days leading up to this week about how slow this week would crawl.  our anticipation to get home would make this week tick inch by inch, hour by hour.  as he crawled in bed tonight, he kissed me quickly, rolled over, and said, “i was wrong, this week is going to fly by...”

and there is that heaviness again.  the tightness.

don’t keep me in, let me out.

and so i had to sit down and write.  about what, i’m not sure.  i just know that i must let out some of these feelings before they take my body down and beat me to a pulp.  because i know there are still people and things that we have to say goodbye to.  and the first ones were already hard enough.

we have a couple of friends coming over tomorrow night, the guy is another one of heath’s co-workers and his wife.  they have also been here on a two year visa (and applied to stay longer....those young little whipper snappers!).  it seems strange to leave them here.  we’d planned to go back together!

our funny as that may sound.  the gym had become my place of refuge.  training and exercise are things that i’m familiar with, something safe, productive and mindless.  my escape.  to say goodbye is much more difficult than i thought.  to think that i would be so sad over leaving a brazilian slave driver is comical.  yet he has silently and consistently been there to whip our stressful bodies into shape each week.  heath and i have come home on certain days laughing in awe at what he has asked us to do during a workout.  you would think he might be our enemy the way that we limp around after a tough training.  yet he has become our friend.

and then there are the people in our neighborhood.  (every time i think “people in your neighborhood”, i start singing the song from sesame street...i bet you do too!)  i have to say goodbye to my baristas, our dry cleaners, the porters....david.

i have to say goodbye to david.

i’ve watched him lately.  i know him well now.  he is helpful to others, smiles when he can, makes jokes when he is feeling well.  i’ve seen him scoff in disgust at uppity, rude women walking by.  i see him looking down, acting invisible, maybe wishing he were.  i’ve seen him talking to others kindly as they give him small change.  i see his lips move to say, “God bless you”.  i know that he can cuss like a sailor when he’s mad and be as gentle as a lamb when my children are around him.  i know that his favorite sandwich is a ham and cheese toasty from costa.  i know that he enjoys hot chicken noodle soup on a cold day.  i know that he gets mad at people who give him peanuts or chips because he doesn’t have any teeth and cant’ chew them!  i know his ex-wife is in russia and he has two grown boys in their early twenties.  and i can tell at least 100 feet away when he is having a hard day.

i know that when i tell him goodbye, it will be forever.  there is no email or home address.  there is no facebook or social networking that we can do to stay in touch.  my time with david will be over.

we have 5 more days.   there is still so much to be done.  tonight heath and i took the children to dinner at maggie jones, the neighborhood restaurant that we went to the night we decided to put a bid on our flat.  we ate there and knew we had found our area, our home away from home.  so it was only fitting that we bring our family there to have one of our last meals together here in “our area”.  the dinner was one i will remember for a long time to come.  we all sat around the table and talked about memories over the last 2 years.  we ate, we laughed, we talked.  when i looking around the table, i couldn’t help but think, we did it.  we made it.  we did this together.  and we are all better for it.  we are more knowledgeable, more outgoing, more adventurous, more accepting and stronger because of this little journey together.  and now we get to go home together and continue that journey.

i’m tired.  all i want to do it sleep.  5 more days.  sleep will come soon.

1 York House Place
Flat 1
W8 4EY

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Deep Impact

i've spent the last several days going through paperwork, clothes, toys, pictures....all from the last two years.  i need to sift through and weed out the things we no longer need.  we've already given much away, thrown things out, saved some for friends, and tucked away other things that i just can't let go of quite yet.  (yes, i hoard things, at times...shhh.)

this morning i decided to go through my clothes, bag up things i don't want or no longer need so that we could give them away.  we are going to have enough to pack to get us back home.  i certainly don't need extra clothes going back over.  maddox was trying to help me and we were casually talking and bagging when i came upon a pile of clothes that lay hidden under several other "newer" clothes.  i took one look at them and realized i'd not worn them one single time while living over here.  i hadn't thought to put them on, wear them out and about.  i hadn't even missed them.  and what was even more alarming was that they didn't even look like something i would wear!  but obviously, two years ago, these clothes were important enough to be some of my select few that i brought over.  clothes that i felt i would wear often while living here....

how can it be that my taste in clothing changed so much?

i went on looking at the clothes, the shoes, even a straw hat and thought, "where has this girl been for almost two years?"  "who was this girl?"  "where did she go?"

"is she still here?"

i feel like i'm the same on the inside, actually, even more me than i've ever been.  i've learned more about myself in these last two years than i care to know.  but now i know.

we had some major life changes to happen over the last couple of years.  our adoption and a move to another country.  i would say, for me, those are major.  and i have changed because of it.  i have become an altered person of myself.  sometimes change will do that to us.  alter us a bit.

after traveling to so many countries and cities, seeing so many faces, hearing so many languages, tasting so many tastes, seeing so many sights, befriending all walks of life...except for bus drivers...okay, there is one that has dreadlocks and he ties them up around his head.  he's actually pretty cool so i'll let him slide...he has smiled at me a time or two so i think he may actually be human.  but after all of this, i am a different me.  a better version, i think.  i hope.

it's not that i was close minded before coming here.  no, not at all.  we were thrilled to come into a new culture and experience new things, to learn more, to see more, to do more...but to feel more?

feel more?  i didn't know that was going to happen.

so as i was going through these clothes, bagging them up, feelings emerged.    my heart feels even more now than it did two years ago.  i will never be the same.  i will always be a new version of myself because of this journey that we had together.  i will reflect on my time here and it may determine actions or reactions in my future.  i no longer see the world the way that it once was.

it's bigger, but smaller.

it's dangerous, yet safe.

it's scary, yet comforting.

it's wild, and calming.

it's harsh, yet mild.

i've seen so much.  we've had some crazy adventures.  we've had fun and laughed.  we've been scared and cried (well, reese and i have, anyway).  there were points we wanted to come home and end it straightaway.  but we all held on and enjoyed the ride.

we have less than three weeks before we fly back.  we've already had to say a few goodbyes.  we have several more to go.  i have found these goodbyes to be much harder than the goodbyes from two years ago.  back then, it was more of a "see ya later" kind of thing.  it was painful and scary and difficult, but we knew we'd be back.  this time is different.  this time goodbye means goodbye.   for many.  probably for most.  in a city that constantly moves, turns and changes, these goodbyes are forever.

this city and these people have left an impact on my life that i can't explain.  i can no longer say that the country is better than the city.  i can no longer think that people in the city don't know one another or have connections.  it's certainly different, but not better or worse.  just different.  and people are people wherever you go.  it's cliche', but it's really true.  people desire love, laughter, friendship, comfort, safety...

i have all these things in two totally different parts of the world.  big city london and little ole' marietta, georgia.

yes, london has left an impact on me, i hope that i left a tiny print somewhere in london.  i think i may have.  you never know who you touch, how you impact, or what you do to make a difference, and i sincerely hope that i made a difference while i was here.  it would be wrong to take so much from this city and not feel like i have given something in return, right?  give and take.

i am still the same country girl from small town, georgia.  there are too many roots planted there to let me go.  and now, i'm a little bit london, city as well.  the best of both.

so if you see me this summer, in my black tight leggings, dirty wellies, scarf and grey knit hat, don't think too much of it.  i'm just trying to figure myself out again as a southern country girl.

who am i kidding?  hand me some sweet tea and sunblock.  we'll be at the pool!

Did someone say POOL!?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Hamster Wheel

have you ever seen a hamster on its wheel?  that little hamster will run and run and run.  sometimes he goes so fast that he loses his grip and will do several flips inside the wheel before regaining his composure.  sometimes he doesn't go as fast as the wheel and will get all caught up, flipping and flopping, landing on his back, only to flip back over and begin again.  call me mean, but watching him lose his grip is hysterical.  i've watched a hamster spin on his wheel in true hopes that he loses it and begins to flop around inside that wheel.

okay, that's mean.  but still funny.

now that summer has begun for my crew, i feel like that hamster.  my day begins with a small child standing at my bed asking me for breakfast.  either that, or an elbow or knee in my face as one tries to climb in beside me to snuggle.  once i'm awake, i get on my wheel.

i make breakfast for everyone, while complete pandemonium goes on in my kitchen.  the kids are all laughing and whooping it up as i clamber around to find coffee and a bite of egg for myself.  all the while, they are asking for this, that, more, help, why, when, will you?....the list is endless of their needs beginning at 8 am.  children are very alert in the early morning.

once they've eaten breakfast, they take their whirlwind to another room.  the kitchen has been successfully destroyed and they are off to find the next room to take down.  usually it's the playroom but have been known to go ahead and begin working on many rooms at one time.  divide and conquer.

as they blow out the kitchen door, i'm left to reasemble and clean the rubble.  i may (or may not) put in a load of laundry as i clean.  and once i've gotten the kitchen almost back to normal, a small person, or two, will usually surface to ask for a drink.  of course.  and one may even have the nerve to ask for a snack.  ummm, didn't you just eat breakfast?  do you have a tapeworm?

i rinse and repeat this method about 5 times a day in the summer time.  3 meals and 2 snacks a day for these guys will keep me very busy.

hamster wheel.

this week, we've been cleaning out their toys to give away, keep or trash.  they've really gotten into it.  we have 3 bins and they load up the bins depending on what they want to do with the toy.  we've done this every day this week, four days so far.  and i'm here to tell you.  toys multiply in the night!  we clean out so much during the day only to find there is still so much more to be done the following day!

hamster wheel.

my children wear a uniform to school so i'm fortunate that we don't have a fight each night or morning over what is to be worn to school.  there are still all the uniform pieces and parts to wash each day....times four!  if i don't run a load (or 4) of laundry each day, i'm in big trouble.  the piles of laundry multiply through the night as well.  i have to stay on top of it.....or i'll be under it.  the summer doesn't really change for my laundry work.  somehow they manage to find several different kinds of clothes to wash.  random clothes.  clothes i haven't seen in months will appear on their little bodies, only to be soiled somehow so that another load of laundry must be done.

hamster wheel.

and moms are amazing at multitasking.  i pride myself in being an octopus!  but sometimes my brain can't keep up with my arms and legs.  i will have all children asking for something at once, my arms and legs will be moving with each word that comes out of their mouth, sometimes i know what they will ask before they even ask it!....and suddenly....i have a malfunction.  i have to stop and stare for a moment.  reboot.  so that i can continue on with my services.  their requests don't seem to end.  this is when i feel like my hamster wheel starts going out of control, i lose my grip and i start to fly around the wheel, tumbling and rolling, spinning and flopping.

hamster wheel.

and yes, it's kinda funny.  how can it not be?  i'm a grown adult and yet, these little tiny people can take me down like a hamster on a wheel.

these are my days of being a hamster.  it's gotten much better over the last few years.  as they get older, they get a little more independent and much more funny!  i can see the light at the end of my hamster tunnel.

you know, i recently read that if a mother hamster detects that something if wrong with her young, she will eat it.  in those moments when things get really rough, i can empathize with a hamster, i kinda understand why a mama hamster will eat her young.

tread lightly, kids.  you don't want mama to get hungry.