Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hello!

Long time to see!

Hi, blog. It’s me. I know. I suck. Life is crazy. I can barely write a lesson plan much less anything else.

So, updates (in short) :
- School started and I love my job! My kids are sweet and smart and parents are involved in the best ways (albeit a few in the not-so-great ways, too), admin is wonderfully supportive, and the whole atmosphere is fantastic. Only downfall? Still 30 minutes away (other direction from last job!) and will be quite the commute if and when we are able to move.
-Speaking of which, we’ve been working with a realtor this fall to get the house on the market. We need land! Space to run free! 1 acre is not nearly enough for two county bumpkins and a growing family.
-On Sept. 7, my dad was in a motorcycle wreck. He was literally hit broad-side by a deer and shattered his leg. It’s been a long road. We were so fortunate that it wasn’t worse and that it happened very very close to my parents’ house. He has a lot of recovery still to go and is still in a wheelchair and of course, out of work. Again, we are just holding on to the gratitude that he is okay!
-In November,  got a new car! Yay third row seats! I feel like a legit soccer mom now. ;)
-Mak’s biomom chose not to relinquish her rights as we had discussed and so we have a trial date set for the new year. Not so fun. We really want a positive relationship with her (as well as other members of that family) but we’re being met with some resistance. We simply request 1) a clean drug test, 2) a job, 3) paying for your own way (rent, etc.) to demonstrate an attempt at a responsible adulthood and to get to know us by contacting us on regular basis. We’re prayerful and hopeful that all will work out. After all, what God has ordained, we can’t change, and it has been very clear that Mak’s adoption heaven-lead. She continues to grow and change and blossom in ways I can’t verbalize. She makes me so proud!
-Speaking of which, she accepted Christ in August and was baptized this fall! AMAZING!  So proud of her mature choices! There’s been a few other situations with her birth family that has complicated things, but again, we know God’s plans are for the best, and we maintain a desire to keep her birth connections, provided those adults are show they are committed to being a good influence on her.
-With everything that happened this fall with Daddy, plus with everything else, we’ve kind of put foster care on hold. I still think it’s something we are meant to do, eventually, just life is a little crazy now.
-The tragedy in Connecticut is mind-consumingly sad. It’s heartbreaking. I keep reading about it online, searching for some way to make sense of it, but of course, that’s impossible. You can’t make sense of the senseless.
-I’m tired. A lot. But it’s okay. Christmas is coming and once the presents are opened, it should be a little easier to rest.

All in all, things are well and we are feeling very blessed. God has had His hands on us, protecting us and guiding us. I’m so grateful for all the things He has done for my family. As Christmas comes (days away I have yet to shop…. eek.), I keep remembering that it’s the time together, memories made, and the celebration of the birth of our Savior that makes it all so special!

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*Fall family pictures taken by a former coworker of mine. :)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Oh, August… we meet again.

AHHHH! It’s hereeee. August. The worst month of the year. Even crazier now with a school age child. So here’s the mandatory update: Summer has rocked. Cape San Blas, Florida was amazing. We went in July and had the most relaxing time. It was beautiful. Scalloping, snorkeling, horsebackriding, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and more. No crowds, no fuss. And simply gorgeous.
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Chilling out on the quiet beach! <3
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Massive sand dunes- 30 ft high!
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Loved visiting lighthouses!
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Horsbackriding was amazing! IMG_4857IMG_4865IMG_4868IMG_4874IMG_4876IMG_4964IMG_4984
Learning at the Estuary Nature Center in Eastpoint
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Hubs got back to town and got a new job. Not kidding. He’s moving to the next county teach at a really awesome elementary school in the district he grew up in, with some fantastic coworkers who happen to be a part of our church family. It is a thriving place with firm leadership. It’s the kind of school teachers want to work in, and a place we are happy for our daughter to attend. My building at school was finally opened and in the midst of rearranging, my class is finally taking shape. I’m nervous about a new school, but for once, I’m feeling that back-to-school excitement that I have been missing. I think it’s going to be awesome teaching at a place like MICS (abbreviation for the charter school I now call home.) Life has been moving so fast, and Mak is growing so quickly (literally before our eyes), I can’t get time to clean, scrapbook, craft, plan, much less write!
Here’s the work in progress:
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Everything is in hyper speed. She’s processing more and more. I think since her bday was one of the last times she spent time with biomom, it’s upcoming festivities are stirring feelings in her. I can’t believe she’s going to be 8 in a month! What a year it’s been. Sometimes lately  she says little hurtful things I think to test the water. Like today, she randomly asked about what we eat on Thanksgiving (she has had Turkey Day with us, so this question was odd) and I replied that I like to bake a chicken instead of turkey because it is more moist to me. She retorted, “Well, I like Mommy (Insert Biomom’s first name)’s chicken.” Number 1, I happen to know that Biomom never baked a chicken before. Much less for Thanksgiving. I doubt M remembers the last Thanksgiving they had together. So this a full-on fabrication. Number 2, I know this is her testing me. I let it go. But what I didn’t let go was the other day, I took her shopping with me and when I heard her singing a song we don’t approve of and asked her to sing something different, she harrumphed and said “I miss my other mommy” in a snarky way. I wasn’t taken aback by the fact that she said that, but by the when and the way it was said. I paused and looked at her.  I said, quietly, and calmly, “I understand you miss her. That is perfectly okay, baby. Then I looked at her and asked, what about her exactly do you miss?” and she couldn’t answer. I asked her then very calmly to think about what life was like back then. I paused to let her think and then asked if that was what she missed, and she said no. Then I said, again, that I understood her missing her and reassured her that that was okay, but how she expressed that was a little hurtful. Then I said, “Do you remember the baby that was growing in my belly that died?” and she said yes. “Well, what if every time you did something that I did not like I said ‘I miss my other baby.’ in that same tone you just had?” Would that hurt your feelings?” She got big eyed and nodded. “Do you understand that I love that baby AND you, and no matter what you do, nothing changed my love for you? She nodded. “Well, baby girl, you need to remember that your heart is big enough to love me AND (Biomom’s name) too. It is okay to miss her and wonder about her, to love her, and to be mad at her all at the same time, but it is not okay to say those things like that just to be hurtful. There is a difference.”  I hope I was delicate enough, but firm enough to let her know that I am ready for the I-hate-yous and the you’re-not-my-real-mom' moments that I am sure we will face. I know she said that just because she was mad that I didn’t want her singing the inappropriate song. I know she will pull this when she gets angry. I will love her through it and I will not back down. She will know that unlike her “other mommy,” I don’t go away. And I don’t make promises I won’t keep. That and faith will get us through. She’s going to push hard, but I am prayerfully ready.

In other news, we are moving right along in plans for a foster child. We have shared the plan with Mak and she is somewhere between leery and excited. She can’t seem to grasp that this has nothing to do with her. In her mind, DSS means another life change for her. But she’s getting it. We told her about the time she spent staying with the pastor and his family was similar to what we’d be doing, and that it would give her someone to play with and help welcome like the pastor and his wife’s three kids did for her. She kind of got it and liked the idea of helping acclimate another kid into our family system and welcoming them into our home as her job. Our interviews are done and we are set to get our first child sometime around Thanksgiving to Christmas, with the expectation that the child will be between the ages of 0-5. We have requested not to placed with kids with histories of sexual abuse or violence for Mak’s sake, and are kinda hoping for a boy. We got our fire inspection done (and PASSED), had our fingerprinting and background checks, completed all paperwork, and our social worker should be here to finish the home study tomorrow morning (needless to say today was spent cleaning like a mad-woman), and all that will be left will be physicals once our new health care plans kick in in September (remember, new jobs… thus, new health care plans and such). After that, it’s just a waiting game for the state. Excited, nervous. Such emotions. In so many ways, I feel like last fall… the calm before the storm. August is such and angsty month. I guess it always will. Either way, I look forward to the upcoming school year. I know I will be in awe of the amazing things that God leads us to and through during this school year. Can’t wait to take that first June afternoon to sit still and admire all the changes and growth!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An open letter regarding an “open” adoption from an open heart.

My daughter’s biological mom got our address.
Nevermind how. That’s a whole ‘nother post. it wasn’t supposed to be given to her until we were ready, but alas. Regardless, we got a letter, and she wants me to write back, which I‘d been planning to do for sometime, just waiting on the right time and the right words. Sigh… It’s gonna be long and teary, but…
Here goes:

Dear-Name-,

I’ve been hoping to write you for a while now, but it has been hard to find a quiet moment to sit down and pour out all that needs to be said. Makinzy is doing great. She has grown so much, both physically and emotionally. She is not the same little girl she was in the fall. She is blossoming like a flower. She’s constantly smiling and singing. She has done so well in school, and her behavior is like night and day. I’m so proud of her and so in love. She knows where you are and wants you to get better. She tells me about things she has done with you before and things she’s seen, both good and bad. She told me not too long ago that she hated you and your mom and I hugged her and told her not to hate, but it was okay to be angry, but she needed to know that you love her and always have and always will, even if you made some bad choices along the way. I try to always explain to her that even if you made mistakes, you do love her and always have. When I told her that, she cried and I held her for a long time. I tell you all of this, not to make you upset, but because I want you to know that we are ALWAYS reminding her that you do love her and miss her. I want her to have a good sense of identity- I don’t want to push you out of her life because you are her biological mother and part of you will always be a part of her, regardless of what happens in her life, though, it is up to you as to what that looks like.
I imagine you as her cheerleader as she grows up, sending her encouragement and supporting her, backing us up as her mother and father, and reminding her of all the amazing things she can do and become. You mentioned your own mom in your letter, and you said that you always said you wouldn’t be like her. Well, you’re not. By giving Makinzy us, you are giving her something your mother never did for you. You had your grandfather, yes, and as wonderful and amazing as he is, he is a grandparent, not a mother or father. Children need parents. And, you are making an effort to change, and that is huge. And you are making progress, which is awesome. But you aren’t there quite yet. You have only been there a few months and it is a two year program. Plus, the real evidence that you have done it will be after you complete it. And I say all this with love- we believe in you, and we want you to do great. In your letter, you said to give you a chance, and we most certainly will. You have a great chance ahead of you right now as you complete this program. When you get yourself a job, a place to live that you are paying for yourself, and consistently keeping yourself clean, you will be someone Makinzy can look up to. That’s when we can start working on building a stronger relationship.
We need to talk also about the letters you’ve sent to her. When you call us by name and sign your letters “Mommy” it is confusing for her. She knows we are Mommy and Daddy now, and you are -Name-, and when it’s worded the other way around, it seems like we are just temporary babysitters until you get out, and that’s not what she needs to hear, because that’s not the case. We know that we are all on the same side… Makinzy’s. Makinzy knows we are forever. She can’t and won’t be let down again. When you are writing to her, remind her of how much we ALL love her, and tell her what you are learning. Tell her who you want to be for her so that one day she can be proud of you. She needs to know those things. Tell her what you want for her- a family that will be there for her. Even after you get out, things will be hard, and it will be for a long time. Fighting against doing the things you’ve done in the past will be a full-time job. We want to be encouragement to you as you fight that battle. We want you to see that you have given Makinzy a chance to break the cycle. Just as you swore you’d never be like your mother, Makinzy has a lot of emotions to work out, too. All the things you went through as a child with your own mother has a big chance of becoming the same things Makinzy deals with as young girl growing up, but by giving her parents and an even bigger family, you are giving her more support and more love than you can imagine and that helps stop her from making the same mistakes. I know it has to be so very hard, and I can’t say I know how it is, because I don’t. The closest pain I know is the loss I felt when we had our miscarriage, but, of course, I know that’s different in many ways. But I can say with confidence that you are doing the right thing for her, and should be proud of yourself for doing so. Your grandparents love you too, and there is nothing they want more than to see you succeed in this. You have a lot of people praying for you, including us. We are in this together for Makinzy’s sake. In the end, it all comes down to what’s best for her because we all love her. I can’t tell you how much love we have for her. She’s our pride and joy. She' lights up whenever Jake enters the room and always wants to be his helper. The way they play and laugh together will melt your heart. I know you gave birth to her, but I couldn’t love her anymore than if I did. At night, we snuggle, and I tell her “long time ago” stories about when I was a little girl. She and I have mommy/daughter dates to the library and museum and to get our nails done. She loves feeding the animals (horses and chickens) at her Nana & Poppop’s (Jake’s parents) and hunting and fishing with her Granny & Grandpaw (my parents). Of course, she loves to go visit Mawmaw Hazel and Pawpaw Tony. We’ve been working hard on learning manners like “sir and mam” and “please and thank you.” I wish I could explain how happy she is, and how amazing it feels to be a family, to hear her prayers each night thanking God for Mommy and Daddy and our home and our dogs. I can’t thank you enough for giving birth to her.
I have to be completely honest and say that a big part of me feels anger towards you for not being there for her during the past seven years, God is really working on my heart, and I have been praying for peace for you. I don’t want to feel anger- I feel a calling to be someone who prays for you, encourages you, and celebrates with you as you overcome your problems. We are teaching Makinzy about love and forgiveness in Christ, and it is my hope that one day in the future when she is grown up, she can tell you she forgives you for those first seven years, hug you, pray with you, and thank you for giving the gift of parents. I know she does, and will always love you because, as I said before, you are a part of each other.
Tony said that you wanted to get to know us, and of course, that makes total sense that you would want to know more about the parents of your biological child and so I’d love to tell you more about us. We met at church as teenagers and were instant friends. We both played in the praise and worship band. Jake’s love for God and gentlemanly ways made me swoon and we knew at a very young aged we’d get married. We dated all though high school (even though we went to separate schools) and finally, 5 years later, we got married, right after Jake graduated college and got a teaching job. We spent the first years of our marriage spending as much time together as possible. We like travelling, hiking, and camping together. Jake is a realist- he is a very logical, mathematical thinker. He likes playing softball and tennis and gardening, I’m the dreamer. I like reading and writing, bargain shopping, and painting. Adopting a child has ALWAYS been something that’s important to us. I believe all Christians should consider adoption because in James He commands us to care for the fatherless. But even more so, adoption mirrors what God’s love for us is like. We are all sinners. We all make mistakes and fall short of God’s glory. We were slaves to sin, and while we were still sinners, He adopted us as His own children so that we could be called the children of God and inherit His kingdom. (Gal. 4:4-7, Romans 5:8) It’s funny how in my mind, we’d have a few biological kids and then adopt, but that just wasn’t what God had in store for us. I have to share this with you. The moment that we heard about Tony and Makinzy, this breathlessness settled in my chest. It was like my heart literally ached for her. I looked and Jake and he looked at me and our eyes locked. We just knew this was meant to be. I was so scared. I kept thinking about you. I felt sad for you. I felt mad at you. I was scared of you, and even scared for you. I didn’t want to to think of you, but yet my heart broke for you. I cried out to God and asked Him to give me peace, and to make it clear to us what His plans for Makinzy were. I kept praying that no matter what that He would place her into the arms of the family she needed and He would help you through it. And then Tony called and said he knew we were the right family, and that you would support us. I knew that I couldn’t go through this alone with all of my worries- what would I say when Makinzy as teenager yells “you’re not my real mother” in anger because I won’t let her go out late with friends or something or how would you and I get along? Would you respect me as her real mom, even if though you gave birth to her? I had all of these fears, but it was as if God whispered in my heart “No, you can’t do this alone, but you can with Me” and I knew this was the right thing. I know this letter is incredibly long, but I wanted to pour out my whole heart, honestly. I want you to know that I am going to raise Makinzy to know you love her and care for her, and we (Jake, Makinzy, and I- the three of us) will always be cheering for you to overcome addiction and problems you face. I hope this letter has brought you comfort. When I get some pictures developed, I will send you some. I can’t make any promises just yet about Family Day. I don’t know what will be going on that day just yet, nor am I sure if we are ready for that, but I will let you know, either in a letter or through Tony. I send mine and Makinzy’s love, and hope that this letter has brought you a little bit of peace. Please remember that we are praying for you each day.

WIth love and thanks,

Briana
Psalm 147:5

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Savoring Summer.

Let it be known: I’ve epically failed at blogging in Spring 2012… Not that I didn’t try. I have numerous drafts that seem a little odd to post now.
That whole adopting a 7 year old thing, ya know. Not to mention quitting’ my job and subsequently searching for another one.
So here’s the life update:
In the midst of the mid-May mayhem (alliteration!), we had some veryyyyy news: the arrival of my brand-new, beautiful niece!
Meet Callie! She’s too cute!

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Callie is the daughter of Justin & Danielle, my husband’s brother & his wife, and she was born right in the middle of state testing, which meant we had to wait until Memorial Day weekend to make the trip up to Greensboro to see her. While in the area, we also went to the Lazy 5 ranch, which is a unique zoo that Mak LOVED!

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School ended rather solemnly. I left on a positive note despite the fact that I wasn’t entirely going to miss it, although there were a few dear kiddos and a handful of awesome coworkers with whom I hated to part. Packing up my classroom was the what I imagine the 9th circle of hell must be like. Umpteen thousand boxes later, Daddy & I loaded it up, and stacked it up in their guest bedroom, our guest bedroom, and my garage, all of which are now junky until I can move into my new classroom (more on that).
We went on a field trip to GA, which ended up being quite fun.
My room before it went into boxes… Adios, room 126!

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The GA Aquarium was amazing! Highly recommend! And so was Stone Mountain! Can’t wait to take Mak to both!

 

 

 

Here I am with the other  7th grade teachers that went on the trip. Mr. H & Mrs. S couldn’t go. I will miss these guys, especially Mrs. F (far right), my partner in crime.

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At the beginning of June, Jake continued working/Mak was still in school and I went to job interview after job interview, and was given job offers at every one but one. Also, we attended Jake’s cousin Alison’s wedding. Above is the best family pic I was able to get.
Mak ended first grade! She had an amazing teacher (see them posed together) and even got the award for most improved writer!

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IMG_1211Mid-June, we ventured down to Oak Island, where we have been vacationing yearly with my folks since, well, I was born. This year, our 60 pound bundle of joy made our foursome more! She loved geocaching, fishing, the aquarium, and endless afternoons on the beach with her mommy & daddy.  We even got to meet up with more friends/family for dinner twice!

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After we got back, we jumped straight into VBS. I have to say, I LOOOOVE our church, and I especially love how our church has embraced our daughter as ours, and welcomed her into the fold. I love how involved she is, and it fills my heart with joy to heat her repeat the lessons, songs, and values she’s learning. Speaking of which, I can’t tell if the photos are doing her justice, but can’t ya just see how much she’s maturing and growing?! <3

FBCKM VBS ‘12- Amazing Wonders Aviation

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So now that our OKI trip & VBS have come and gone, we’ve had a few weeks of what I like to call real summer… you know, those lazy days when it’s too hot to do anything and there’s really not much to do anyways? Yes, those. We’ve lounged by the pool, swam ‘till we’re sore, visited the library and local museums, been to birthday parties and sleepovers, visited with family, and just chilled. It’s been those quiet moments that the ways in which our family has “gelled” has been revealed. I love being a threesome. I took the month of June off from charting, taking meds, and doing everything under the sun for TTC. I ‘m done caring or even thinking about it for a while. My brain needed a break from the emotional pressure of convincing myself to continue trying so hard without getting my heart too wrapped up in it. And it’s been great just… being us. Between time together, time at church, time with friends and family, life has just been good. Next week, we’re going to be traveling 11 hours to the FLA panhandle for our first “official” family vacay just the three of us, to a quaint stilt house on Cape San Blas, 300 ft. from the water on a strip of forgotten beach, void of any stores or high rises. I’m stoked. I’ll try to post pics in a timely manner this time. ;)

We spent the 4th doing the normal things- going to the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops patriotic show complete with picnicking and fireworks on the third, then grilling with my folks, & watching more fireworks on the fourth. It felt so… right. IMG_1399IMG_1400IMG_1419IMG_1437

Watching the fireworks at the American Legion (a tradition she had with her grandfather). I wasn’t too happy about some of the patrons’ foul mouths, but I gave ourselves Es for effort for trying to do some things/maintain respect for her biological family history and the things she’s done in the past.

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So back to the whole new job thing (told ya I’d get there)… I’m the newest 6th grade language arts/Latin teacher (yes-LATIN- meaning word etymology, basically) at a charter school in the county in which we live. That means I’m no longer teaching across the state line, but in NC like my hubby. It takes me about the same time to get there as it did my old school, but it’s only 20 from Jake & Mak’s school, and much less distance (in terms of mileage/gas) that my previous school. Being a charter school, it’s a very unique k-9 (eventually k-12) school set on a church campus using a combo of the church facilities as well as modular buildings as its campus. They are currently trying to procure land for an out-of-this-world school campus to be built. It’s got a lot of the flair of a private Episcopal school, and is very grass-roots in atmosphere. I guess, by that I mean the atmosphere is that learning requires multiple parties: teachers, students, and parents. Students are expected to behave. Period. Parents are expected to be involved. Period. And teachers are expected to teach with vigor, and will be supported by whatever means necessary to get students to succeed. It’s messy and fun and authentic. And I love it. It’s gotten me recharged for teaching. I find myself planning/prepping and just THINKING about teaching sooo much more. I hope I don’t have the grass-is-greener syndrome, but I can’t shake this feeling of excitement. I know the difference in socio-economic environments has a lot to do it, but I think the real reason I’m excited is the difference in the vibe of the school as well being in the same county in which we live. Anyways, the middle school will be housed together in a new modular building (and the buildings are complete with a hallways and rumor has it, lockers in our new building, so they aren’t like the mobile units you’re imagining.. the “learning village” as it is called, is quite lovely…) and our building has yet arrive and be finished, so it may be August before I can get in and start working in my room. Angst. Still, I am happy.
So. There you have it. I’m so glad summer is here, and I love soaking it in. This summer is sooo different from last year. New job. New child. New outlook post miscarriage. Less traveling, more chilling. Last year was awesome and fun, and as different as it may be and as shocking as the changes may seem, I am so overjoyed when I sit back and look at life. God holds the map of my life, and I’m totally enjoying the scenery on the journey in which He’s leading me. Jeremiah 29:11. <3