Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And then God surprises you

We really had no idea what to do. We were all ready to adopt from Ethiopia, but felt God was holding us back. We started to pray about pursuing foster care and foster/adopt programs, but got no answer. Desperately wanting more children, but never wanting to run ahead of the Father, we waited. For some kind of sign, for something.

We got our sign. Seven times. Five home pregnancy tests, one blood test, and a sonogram confirmed what we could not believe. God has placed a life in my womb.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Fun

Fall is my absolute favorite season and it has been so much fun to enjoy it with Harrison this year. Two weeks ago we went to a fall festival at a local park. Here are some pics...

Harrison with his cousin Brayden

In line for a hayride

Getting his face painted with PopPop

Happy Boys!

Then last week we went to the best pumpkin patch ever! It had a petting zoo, hay rides, a big hay pit for the kiddos to jump around in, a playground, one barn where you could learn about farming, another barn where they served hot dogs, fries and ice cream and finally a 3+ mile corn maze.

An aerial view of this year's maze

Harry found a little lamb

Brayden, Annie and Harrison

So many pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here we wait

Something comes to you, an idea, a plan, a new venture. You head down the path and can sense God is in this thing, He is moving. You have your destination in mind and you are forging ahead with your eye on the prize. As you go, you hit obstacles, unexpected bumps in the road that force you to change and grow. With your heart set on the things ahead, you yield to the process and find God is breaking down walls in your heart. He is using this path to change you in ways you had not expected.

Then suddenly you reach a fork in your road. You can bear left pressing on toward your original goal, or now you can bear right toward another destination. Another destination that you had considered before, but dismissed quickly, as not for you, for so many reasons. But standing there at the fork, you realize your time on this path has changed you, and each of the objections you had to this new destination have worn away as you toiled on the path. You would not have started down this road with the new destination in mind, but now that you are at the fork, you see that you needed to head down this road to get to either destination. You needed to be changed in order to be prepared to arrive at the new destination. And so there you stand. Staring at the fork. Your heart clinging to all the reasons you started on the path, but amazed by the excitement stirring in your belly at the new venture just steps away. Was this His plan all along, or is this just a distraction? God will guide you, you are sure of that, but waiting for Him at this crossroads isn’t easy.

Waiting for Him at this crossroads isn’t easy.

I hesitate to write anything at all, because I have no idea which way He will lead. Well, maybe that’s not true, maybe I do have an idea. There are a million reasons why Ethiopia is the right fit for us, and I WANT IT SO BADLY. But I have a feeling, we are going to bear right toward a new destination. Maybe not, and so we wait…

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tis the Season

I am not a great blogger most of the time, but in the spring and summer, I downright stink. I just love being outside. I love pushing our kitchen table off to the side to catch junk mail for a few months, while we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out on the porch. I love watching my baby run around in the grass with nothing but a diaper... and sometimes not even that. I love our morning walks to the park and swinging side-by-side with my little man. I love when it so hot that I stop caring about the condition of my arms and I throw on a tank top. I love splashing in our inflatable kiddy pool. I love farmers markets and fresh fruits and veggies that didn’t come from California. I love mowing the lawn, digging in the dirt and watching as each of my flowers take turns blooming. The tulips, the snowball bush, the irises, the peonies, the pixie lilies, and now the hydrangeas and daylilies, while the hibiscus and black-eyed susans and butterfly bushes have not quite woken. This year I can add a new love to that list. My new garden, my vegetable garden.

My grandma grew up on a farm in southern Maryland and she when she married my Grandpa, an Irish immigrant with his feet firmly planted in Baltimore city, she missed getting her hands dirty. They lived in a tiny house in the city, but grandpa made sure their yard was big enough for quite a spectacular garden. I have the best memories of driving to her little farm in the city, and spending hours playing amongst the veggies, digging up worms, or coloring under the grape arbors. The tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, she grew everything, but my absolute favorite were her grapes. The most magnificent grapes I have ever tasted in my life. Recently, I discovered a local vineyard that has one wine that tastes just like those grapes. One sip and I am right back there.

So here are a few photos from my garden.






I also did head lettuce, yellow bell peppers, onions, carrots, spinach , broccoli, eggplant, a bunch of herbs and started a blueberry bush.

Cabbage worms ate my broccoli and I didn’t pick the spinach in time, but we have enjoyed carrots, strawberries and lettuce, and zucchini is on tonight’s menu.

Here’s a look at the perfect little garden my amazing husband gave up a lot of blood, sweat, tears and Saturdays to build me...

Isn’t he just the best?

And finally here are a few pics of my flowers...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where do I start?

It was this time last year that I stopped blogging for seven months. I had no intention of repeating history, but I can now clearly remember why I stopped. The sun shines, the garden calls… Harry and I wake up early and play outside til the sun goes down.

So much has happened since I last wrote here, so much that beginning again seemed overwhelming and I let time pass.

Shortly after my last post Harrison turned two. And he is 100% two, by the way. He is so fun and so strong-willed. And everyday I feel more on top of the world to have this amazing little person as my son. And everyday I feel like being a mother is the most impossible job ever.

My mom has been staying with us on and off and it is such a blessing to have her here. I have missed having her so close and can’t wait until she can come back permanently.

Tim built me an amazing vegetable garden. I did a little research and planned it out and he worked himself to the bone for four Saturdays. It is fantastic. He has never been the handy type at all, in fact I have done pretty much all the handyman work for most of our marriage. So it is all the more special how much time and work he put into it. The garden in done, now he is putting in a walkway around it. I will post photos over in our albums. You will be impressed!

Our adoption process has hit more than a few bumps in the road. We have had very difficult decisions to make and basically haven’t really been able to move forward in the past 6 weeks. In fact, we’ve moved backward. Here’s the story…

We found an agency we loved. They had everything we wanted, but they were still in the process of getting licensed by the Ethiopian government. They were expected to have their licensing within a month, so they encouraged us to sign on, work on our homestudy and dossier and then we would be ready soon after they were licensed. I had reservations, but really liked them so we moved forward with that plan. Our goal was to adopt 2 children younger than Harrison. Our ideal situation would have been to bring home a 6 month old baby girl and an 18 month old baby boy when Harry was about 2 ½ . So they would each be about a year apart. We were willing to be flexible, but still, two babies under two is a tricky request. Our agency was fine with it.

I knew that adopting two at once would present challenges. Attaching with 2 children at once couldn’t be easy, since I knew first-hand attaching with just one baby presented a lot of challenges. And the sheer amount of work involved in having 3 kids under three…scary! Then there is Harrison, through his little eyes… “Mommy and Daddy leave me for 10 days and when they return they bring not one, but two babies home who take up so much of the time that was just mine.”

But the positives out weighed the negatives in our minds. We really are not trying to be a “global family” with one child from each of eight countries. We would like each of our children to have someone else in the family that shares their country of birth/ethnicity. Guatemala is closed and no one can say for sure we will ever be able to return there for another child. Nor can anyone say what the future holds in Ethiopia. Adopting two babies at once would ensure we would not run into this problem again.

So when our homestudy agency told us they do not approve the adoption of two non-related children, we knew our chances of finding a baby boy under two with a younger sister would be nothing short of miraculous. We were stunned. We had paid a nice chunk of money and submitted a nice chunk of the paperwork. I called other agencies, we could go elsewhere and be approved. It took us almost a month to decide but in the end we opted to stay with our homestudy agency.

Then, I emailed our adoption agency to see if there was any news on their licensing. They told us that Ethiopia is currently investigating several agencies and has decided to freeze all applications for licensing. They told us they had set up a networking agreement with another agency and that agency would process the adoptions for our agencies clients. I have never felt comfortable with this. It just seems ripe with problems. I have known others who have been involved in these situations and I think they could have saved themselves a lot of headache (and often heartache) if they just dealt with one agency. Plus, I keep reading that this practice is illegal in Ethiopia. Our agency assures us it perfectly legal and they have read the actual laws. But how can we know for sure? We really can’t.

We are now restarting our homestudy and searching for a new agency, one that has it’s own license in Ethiopia. Adoption never ceases to be a rollercoaster. It is in times like these that I love when people tell me how easy I have it, because I don’t have to go though pregnancy and childbirth. Nothing about adoption is easy. When they tell me how lucky I am to not be getting stretch marks, and they have no idea the wrinkles and gray hairs that I’ll get instead.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My Mom

I almost lost my mom a week ago Friday.

My aunt and I took her into the hospital early Friday morning for a Cardiac Catheterization. A relatively simple exploratory procedure. Mom was having it done because she had been having some symptoms of heart disease and they wanted to take a look inside.

Five hours in the waiting room, ticked by slowly as we waited for the results. Finally around 2:00, Mom’s doctor came out and told us her arteries were perfect. What relief we felt! He told us we could go see her in recovery, but she would need to stay horizontal for four hours, so the hole they had just created in her artery could close. Two hours later the nurse came to take us back.

We went back and she looked great. She was still a little loopy from the drugs, so we had some fun teasing her. We laughed. We acted silly. We were just so relieved.

Her four hours of not moving were finally over and we were anxious to leave. It was 6:00 pm and I was aching to see my boys. The nurse took forever to come and tell her she could get up. She said she could go to the restroom, get dressed and then they would have her discharge papers ready.

I left the room for a moment and when I returned, it was surreal. My aunt was standing in the middle of the recovery room; her face was pale and covered in fear. Nurses were running in and out of mom’s room frantically, yelling to other nurses to bring various tools and page the doctor. No one spoke to my aunt or me. We stood there like statues frozen with fear. I kept waiting for someone to tell us she was going to be okay, but no one did. I heard my mom say she was going to pass out and the nurses behind the curtain were yelling at her to stay awake. Everything was frantic. Bedside manor was out the window. They were just keeping her alive.

At some point my aunt and a nurse pushed me into a chair when they thought I was going to pass out. I wasn’t going to, my brain couldn’t accept what was going on. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t pray, I couldn’t cry. I didn’t know how to do anything in that moment. I just wanted to hold my baby. I needed Harrison and the need consumed me. I was losing my mother and I just needed to mother my son.

Finally, she was stabilized and a nurse came to explain what had happened. The hole in the artery had not closed and as she walked back from the bathroom she began to hemorrhage. She said something about dissolving a hematoma before a clot could travel through her blood stream. We could go say hi but we would have to go back to the waiting room for 2 hours… at least.

We decided to get dinner and as we walked my throat began to tighten, I couldn’t swallow and breathing became more difficult. I was beginning to deal. I got in the cafeteria line, called Tim and the floodgates opened. His sister stayed with Harrison and he headed into DC to be with me. The realizations that I came to over those two hours were horrifying. Harrison adores her, but he would’ve never remembered her. She has been so supportive of our decision to adopt from Ethiopia, more so than anyone else in our families, but her African grandchildren would’ve never known her.

And me. It was just her and me for so many years. We walked a difficult path together, just the two of us. She is the only one who really knows, because she is the only one who was there. She is my mother, my best friend, my inspiration. She is the most giving, selfless person I have ever known.

The feelings I had are hard to describe and they really took me by surprise. I felt like I was on the brink of being an orphan. Yes, I have a father, but as I look back I can’t remember a time when our relationship was parental. And so it’s really just her. I felt that if she were gone, I would be more alone than I had ever been before. The one person who has been on my side for over thirty years, the only witness to my whole life. Gone. In a moment.

I would have never understood this feeling two weeks ago. If someone else were saying these things, I would’ve thought there was a problem with their marriage. But my marriage is great. So what is this feeling?

Mom ended up spending the night in the hospital and was released the next day. She spent several days here with us recuperating. Now she has regained most of her strength and is doing great. But I am changed by the experience. I walked around the whole week in a fog… perpetually on the verge of tears… acutely aware of what a gift I have… and that one day she will be gone.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


...in the living room with Moon Sand!

Sorry Nae, I don’t have any jokes. Hope this was cute enough to provoke a smile!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This photo was taken about a month ago. Harry and sweet Izzy are sitting at Father Greg’s feet with their prayer books.

I love this photo, not just because it is adorable, but because it is a reminder of God’s spiritual provision. As I see my little boy sitting at the feet of the man who has been my spiritual father since I was 9 years old, I am overcome with gratitude. I am so grateful that my son will grow up with a solid foundation. I am so grateful that he will not be “carried about by every wind of doctrine,” that he will grow up in the truths it took us so many years to find.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sweet Cakes

This one’s for all the GuateMama’s out there...

It is hard to find recipes that are specific to Guatemala, but I found this one for Guatemalan Sweet Cakes on Epicurious a few weeks ago. Tim and Harrison were over the moon for them. I thought they were pretty good, but what I really liked was having a special treat from Guatemala for Harry.

One side note, the recipe calls for Farmer Cheese. When I was growing up, we often went to an Amish market and bought something called Farmer Cheese. It was similar to provolone. This is not that cheese. This farmer cheese is similar to cottage cheese or ricotta and can be found in the same section of the market. BUT don’t try to substitute cottage cheese as I did on the first go... yuck!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Five minutes well spent

I found this fantastic little video of John Piper sharing God’s heart, on something so close to my heart. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Where do we go from here

The day after my last post things changed for us and I knew it was finally time to write this post. But writing this post would make some things very real to me and I haven’t felt ready. Thus the silence. So here is it: the post I have started, but never finished 100 times in the last year. It is a very long story, so grab a cup of coffee and pull up a couch.

Most people who know me at all know I want a large family and I want to get that moving as soon as possible. Tim and I feel like we did our waiting before Harrison came and now we are just ready to build our family. But as most of you know, adoption is a very expensive endeavor. Expensive in dollars, expensive in lost sleep, expensive in tears. Those of us who have been “pregnant like an elephant” and spent 2 agonizing years waiting to hold our child, know that by the time you get your little one home, you need an emotional rest. So when we got home with Harry we had decisions to make. Where do we go from here? And when would we be ready to begin again?

Initially, we thought we’d go back to Guatemala, so Harrison would have a sibling from his birth country, but we felt God was holding us back, and so we waited. For quite some time my heart has been drawn to Africa. Last summer as I read “There Is No Me Without You” I knew wanted adopt from Ethiopia. Eventually. But I really thought Guatemala was the way to go next for Harry’s sake.

In the meantime, we started to think again about the possibility of conceiving. The doctors said that as I lost weight, my chances would increase. And I was losing weight. So maybe...

We decided we would just “see what happens.” We were hopeful God would bless us, but we weren’t counting on it. So we decided to start an adoption, and if we ended up with two babies at once, we’d be all the more blessed.

We had no peace about returning to Guatemala and my heart drawn more and more to Ethiopia. So we called our agency and got information. Unfortunately, we learned they had changed their policy in regards to family planning and we were expected to prevent pregnancy during the process. We had a short discussion about birth control with a pre-adoption consultant, and were left without an agency.

So now we felt like we had to make a decision, proceed with an adoption or proceed with trying to conceive. After much debate, we decided to try fertility treatment. It took several months of tests and referrals until we were sitting in the office of a fertility specialist trying to explain what we were and were not willing to do to conceive. We were scheduled to begin the next month.

Now I need to briefly rewind to give you some insight on our previous attempts at fertility treatment. First of all, I have a very strong reaction the medication I need. On these meds, I am NOT WELL 3 weeks out of the month; and by the third month, I am completely spent. So after soldiering through all the side effects, when we tried a few years ago, on the day we were scheduled to “try” I got a food poisoning. The next time on “the day”, I was in the hospital needing to have my gallbladder removed immediately. Almost every month we tried the meds, something out of our control stopped us from actually taking advantage of them. We finally decided to stop the insanity and adopt. Enter Harrison.

So back to the present. Month one: My STD tests result are not in and the doctor refuses to proceed. Reeling from the drugs, I returned to the clinic for month two. I had to be to the clinic at 7:30am for a sonogram. That is 7:30 am the day after I wrote my last post. The morning after I had been up through the night with my heart breaking, yet again, for the fatherless. The sonogram confirmed my cysts were back. Another month lost. I drove home feeling a bit numb, but not surprised.

In those moments as I drove home, I could be completely truthful with myself, and I realized several very important things about our current course of action.

1.I realized I never had believed the fertility treatment was going to work. And I really didn’t care if it did. I was just going through the motions, because on the off chance that if one day 20 years from now I wished I had experienced pregnancy and childbirth, I could tell myself I gave it my best shot.

2. I realized my frustration with not being able to try again really stemmed from my desire to just get the treatment over with. And then I could finally follow my heart to Africa.

3. I realized my only reason for wanting the treatment to actually be successful was because I really want that big family and I can’t see how we’ll ever afford it via adoption. I had to ask myself, yet again, if I could I trust God with the desires of my heart? And remind myself that if He is calling us to adopt children, he will provide a way for us to bring them home.

4. I knew that if God one day decides to open my womb, He will do it. He will do it as He has done it for generations of women before me, not with the strategies of man, but by His mighty, merciful and miraculous Hand.

I called Tim and it was clear he was not surprised either. Where do we go from here, I asked. Our hearts were in complete agreement. We needed to get off the merry-go-round and follow where God was leading.

So this week, we decided to move forward with a wonderful adoption agency that seems to have everything we want. And if all goes as planned we should be in Ethiopia by the end of the year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I would gather children

Some would gather money along the path of life, some would gather roses and rest from worldly strife. But I would gather children from among the thorns of sin, I would seek a golden curl and a freckled toothless grin. For money cannot enter in that land of endless day, and roses that are gathered soon will wilt along the way. But Oh the laughing children, as I cross the sunset sea, and the gates swing wide to heaven, I can take them in with me.


I have known this poem for so long, but it has really been getting to me lately. I have always thought it was cute, but now it makes me cry.

As I press in to the Lord this Lenten season, my prayer is that the Lord would break my heart with the things that break His. I was expecting something new. But how can I be surprised when He returns my heart to the fatherless. “Lord, I already know the need, my heart is already broken.” But I close my eyes, and again, I am overwhelmed by a sea of little faces.

Oddly, I have never really shared my passion for adoption here. In fact, I really haven’t shared it with most of my friends. Why? I think there are several reasons, but the biggest is that I fear I am so passionate that the message will be lost on the crazy messenger.

Why I am so passionate?

Because there are currently 143 million children in the world without a parent to love them.

Because if only 7% of Christians adopted 1 child, there would be no orphans in the world.

Because adoption is at the very heart of God.

Because I close my eyes, and again, I am overwhelmed by a sea of little faces.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

You should ignore this post

Don’t say I didn’t warn you....

I think about politics. A lot. Always have really.

Ready to stop reading yet?

When I was 6, Ronald Reagan was running for reelection and I knew I had to do something to help. I made my mom take me to Rite-Aid for some poster board. I planned to march up and down my road carrying a sign I made to support Pres. Reagan. Who cares that there we only 3 homes on my tiny dirt road that led to nowhere. So I went to my big brother for help. VOTE FOR RONALD REAGAN! my sign would say, I just needed help spelling his name. R-O-N-A-L-D--R-O-L-A-I-D-S was my brothers response. I was infuriated. Righteous indignation! Not so much because he did it to me, but more because I believed he had disrespected the President of the United States of America. Plus it had taken a lot of convincing to get that first piece of poster board, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing another.

I was ridiculously excited to vote in my first election. Clinton won, but I was not deterred. I had so much hope for George W. Bush, and was thrilled when my guy won. But he really dropped the ball on several issues important to conservatives.

I have never had wont for an outlet to discuss my passion for politics. I worked in the newspaper business for many years and then academia. Both industries were ripe with individuals who hated my politics. Then you add the fact that I live just 6 miles from the DC beltway and you have a recipe for a lot of “spirited discussions”.

I spent every morning and every evening trudging around that beltway listening to talk radio. But by the time I quit my job to stay home, I was totally burned out. I told my husband (who is a total political junkie) I had given up on politics and only Jesus could save this country. I didn’t want to listen to it, read about it, talk about it, think about it.

Then Rob Schneck came to our church to speak this fall. He comes fairly regularly and is always enjoyable. Rev. Schneck heads a ministry called Faith and Action, and he is a missionary to Capitol Hill. He actually attended the same Bible college that I attended, and his teachings on the ten commandments were pivotal in my husband’s conversion. Anyway, this fall as he was teaching, he said something that has stuck with me. Forgive the paraphase, I can’t remember his exact words. But the gist was that in the US as a democracy, we are the government. We, the people have the authority to choose leaders and remove leaders. Given that authority is God granted (Rom 13:1), we must be good stewards of the vote that God has given us. It is a matter of stewardship.

So after a long sabbatical, my mind returned to politics. But I see things differently than I did before. I have been disillusioned in the most positive sense of the word. With equal if not greater passion, I am redirected, refocused.

Today I fulfilled the obligation of stewardship.

I have so much to say...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Little Milestones

I know I have been MIA again. I think the problem is that I have so much I want to say that I don’t know where or how to begin. Well, and then there have been the other blogs... I have posted a ton to several other blogs in the last 2 weeks. It seems everyone has topics that get me fired up and I have been up typing til the wee hours everywhere but here. Between these blogs and some other things going on in my life, I have so many thoughts I want to get out. But if I begin typing I may never stop.

However, some significant things have happened in my little boy’s life in the last 2 weeks of *silence*. And I want to be sure I keep his posts current.

Last Saturday was our very first Gotcha Day! It is also Harrison’s cousin, Brayden’s birthday. Tim, being an adoptee, thinks Gotcha Day is silly and always thought it was just something his little sister made up to get extra presents. But the day means a lot to me and I was so excited to celebrate so Tim got in the spirit. I think he gets it more now that he is a daddy.

The only problem was we didn’t really think things through. We planned a full day: at Brayden’s birthday party all day and then off to the toy store for a special present, then out to dinner as a family to celebrate Gotcha Day. Well the birthday party prevented a nap, so by the time we got to the toy store he was asleep. We picked a toy, while he snoozed in the stroller and then headed to dinner. We met my mom in the parking lot with a very over-stimulated, over-tired toddler on the verge of a meltdown. We reached the decision that it would not be a very fun Gotcha Day celebration for him if he was being corrected the whole time, and we headed home. Pizza and pajamas would have to suffice for a celebration, but at least we could enjoy each other.

The other significant moment in my little boys life came the night before Gotcha Day. And it was just tragic! For Mommy, not for Harry. He had been refusing to go to bed at night, screaming his head off for 30 - 40 minutes every night for over 2 months. It always had to be Mommy who put him to sleep and the screaming occurred no matter what I tried. And I tried EVERYTHING! so this night, in his screaming fit he points across the room. I begin asking what he wants naming things, until finally I realize he is pointing to the twin sized bed in his room. I was exhausted of his antics so I put him in the big bed. That was it. Happy as a clam, he went to sleep and has refused his crib everyday and every night since. My baby isn’t even 2 and he is in a big boy bed. He wasn’t a baby long enough! We had exactly 1 year, 365 days of our baby in a crib. Boo-hoo!

Those are the only two Harrison updates. I have a lot more I’d like to type about, but that will have to wait for now.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My new blog

As promised, I have moved my blog over to my brand new .mac site. The address is: web.mac.com/charfitz/

I am having so much fun putting the site together and will be continuing to add new photo albums over the next few days/weeks. I am also going to transfer some of my favorite posts in time.

By the way, if you are blessed enough to have a mac, a .mac subscription is so worth it.

If you have a pc, I'm sorry.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am not being lazy...

I have been so sick for the past, wow... it's almost been a week. I have like five posts rolling through my head, plus I am planning to move my blog. But I have been so out of it, and any free time (Harrison sleeping, Harrison with Daddy) has been spent buried under the covers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A significant year

I would have to say that 2007 was probably the most significant year of my life. Some absolutely wonderful things happened and some not so wonderful things happened. In the good and the bad I learned so much this year and I am grateful all of it. My friend Mia made a list like this and I thought it was a great idea, so I am stealing it. Here are 30 things about my life in 2007. The reason I am doing 30 is…

1. I turned 30 this year. And I kinda like it.
2. I brought my beautiful son home from Guatemala and became a mommy.
3. I fell deeper in love with my amazing husband, watching him become a father.
4. I learned that no book can prepare you for motherhood. It is much more wonderful and much more difficult than I ever could have known before experiencing it.
5. I was awed to see what a great father my husband is.
6. My eyes were opened to the suffering in Africa.
7. I decided vegetarianism is not for me and ate lots of meat.
8. I learned what it feels like to be the mom with the kid throwing an absolute fit in the middle of the mall. And that “get control of your kid” is easier said than done.
9. I saw nearly 8 years of heartache wash away in a moment.
10. I learned first hand what I had hoped was true: the bond between a mother and her child has nothing to do with genes.
11. I learned how precious dates with my hubby are. After 8 years of weekly date nights, we savored the 3 wonderful dates we had this year.
12. I learned babies eventually will start walking, even if they wait 17 months, and once they do, you wonder why you were so eager for it to happen.
13. I learned that racism is lurking beneath the surface all over our society.
14. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of a dear friend. Twice this year, she drove 20 hours with four kids to be with me.
15. I discovered the benefits of cloth diapering, and the benefits of giving myself a break from cloth diapering now and again.
16. I learned that “nature” can put up a big fight against “nuture.”
17. I watched my husband stand up for me over and over while others tried to tear me down.
18. I learned that some people just aren’t going to like you and you still need to show them the love of Christ.
19. I taught my child how to receive love.
20. I realized I can’t impart to my child something I do not have. The character I display in day-to-day life will speak much louder than my rules.
21. I learned the value of a good nights sleep.
22. I spent more time praying with my husband.
23. I learned more about the character of God.
24. I thanked God for so many of the times he said “No.” (Hindsight and all that.)
25. I got over myself in a lot of ways.
26. I learned that while playing with Little People isn’t the most fun activity in the world, it means the world to my little person.
27. I stopped teaching Sunday School after about 15 years, and decided my own kids would probably never attend.
28. I broke the rules and discovered sometimes being a rebel is the only way to make a really good thing happen.
29. My mom moved out of our house after 3 years. I miss her!
30. I lost 60 lbs.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


...was a beautiful month. My favorite month of the year and my son was here. We celebrated our first advent season together as a family. It went by so fast, but the busyness was joyful and the memories I will treasure forever. If I try to give a full recap, I'll never finish, so here are some Harrison's highlights.

December 15th we celebrated one year since he legally became our son.

He had an adorable ritual all month. I would bring him down in the mornings to rock in daddy's recliner while drinking his bottle. This would last just a few seconds before he realized it was all wrong. He would hop off my lap run the Christmas tree, point and sign please, so I'd turn on the lights. Next we would go to the fireplace, point and sign please, I would tell him Daddy would build a fire when he came home. So then he would point to various Christmas candles and sign please. I would light a few, as he ran to find my iPod. He'd take it to the speaker and sign please, because we had to start each morning with a little of Josh Groban's Christmas CD. Finally, with the tree and the candles and the music and the promise of a fire, he would lead me by the hand back to the rocker so we could snuggle while he drank some milk.

Harrison has had pretty much no interest in talking. Early in the summer he said "Sadie" (our dogs name) for a few weeks and then has never said it again. We were starting worry, even though we knew we shouldn't. (He did, after all switch languages at 10 months old.) But while Christmas shopping in Target in early December, he started fussing. I thought he just wanted to leave so I wasn't paying a lot of attention. And then clear as day he said "STUCK!" I turned and said "What did you say?" He repeated "STUCK!" and used his right hand to point to the fingers on his left hand, which he had wedged between the bars of the shopping cart. I cracked up, as I "unstuck" his fingers. My son who wouldn't even use Mama and Dada in context, could perfectly annunciate stuck in context, when the need presented itself. Though stuck remains the favorite word, Mama and Dada are now used. As well as uh-oh, wow, and most recently Nana, hat and spoon. Now new words seem to come daily.

In addition to the first words, he learned all kinds of news ways to let us know his thoughts. He and his father made up "signs" for everything. His favorite is "all done" wiping hands together. Our favorite is "yes," he couldn't figure out how to nod, so he does a little Japanese bow. He is also convinced that the sign for thank you is the same as blowing kissing, which has been cute with family and a little embarrassing with strangers.

He became a huge helper. One day in early December, Tim noticed Harrison drop his bottle and some milk leaked out on the kitchen floor. Harrison immediately toddered over to get a kitchen towel, sopped up the tiny spill and returned the towel. Later he repeated the activity, but asked Daddy for a paper towel and then threw it in the trash when he was done. We thought this was the cutest thing we had ever seen, but it was just the beginning. In the coming weeks he insisted on throwing his own diapers away, carrying groceries in from the car for Mommy, and picking up each item off the conveyor belt at Target to hand it to the cashier. He even began unloading the bottom half of the dishwasher, handing silverware up to Mommy and putting the Tupperware in the cabinet. He loves to wipe up the kitchen table with a sponge after dinner and bring us his shoes and coat when it is time to leave. And on Christmas morning, seemed to love taking each person their presents even more than opening his own.

He had lots of opportunities to celebrate touchdowns (one of his favorite activities) as the Skins made it to the playoffs! (We won't talk about what our boys did once they got there, that was January.)

After 10 months of playing second fiddle to Daddy, Mommy got to be Harry's favorite in December. WooHoo! Mama had to put him to bed and Mama had to kiss the owies and Mama had to watch whenever he was showing off. And Mama was happy to oblige!

We spent Christmas at Mimi and Grandpa's house in Florida. Harrison played in the sand for the first time, building sandcastles, searching for seashells and begging everyone to stay out of the water. Every time Tim or I got near the waves, he'd run to us, grab our hands and pull us away frantically. His little concerned face was so sweet! But by the last day, his Aunt Mary convinced him to get in the water at a calmer inlet so he could catch hermit crabs. SO EXCITING!

Here are some photos of the trip...

I want YOU to come to the beach with me!

Digging with Daddy

Ah, I finally got Mommy away from those evil waves

Could it be for me?

Mimi volunteers at a turtle rescue... so cool!

Giving big kisses to my #1 girl: Mommy!