Tuesday, August 30, 2011
We're here in Utah doin' our thang.
I'm still trying to get my inner Beth Moore on.
My youngest son has apparently missed the memo that we're supposed to be an upright, godly, blameless family. He really needs to learn how to pronounce fork correctly.
Because right now, well, he gets the f and the k right. But then he supplies an "uh" sound in the middle and it sounds exactly like the way his brother used to say truck.
It becomes very problematic when he says things like, "I need a fork." Yeah. If that doesn't sound like we're raising a little potty mouthed toddler nothing would.
Monday, August 29, 2011
To watch the slide show from my amazing weekend, click on the link below.
LPL-Salt Lake City
Sunday, August 28, 2011
I turn thirty in 11 days.
On our way to the conference this past weekend a friend of mine asked me if I was really having a hard time with the upcoming birthday.
I explained my reasoning.
Today I got this note from her in church.
Lori, you have allowed God to work through you; to bring people to Christ, so they have an opportunity to be saved. This, being eternal, is a greater accomplishment than all the "earthly" ones could ever amount. And to think of the amazing impact you have made on your fellow sisters, all in less than 30 years~think of all you & God can do in the next 30."
Well, if that doesn't make me look forward to my sixties than I don't know what would.
I told her I was going to frame the note, hang it on my wall and read it every night to remind myself of exactly why I'm here, in this time and place, a stranger just passing through this world, doing this thang. I was joking. Mostly.
So here I am, pushing the heck out of thirty. I'm a daughter of the King and that is the only thing that matters.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
I'm pretty much running through the Maverik Center to save seats for the women in my church. I'm stoked to be at the Beth Moore conference because, let's face it, she actually makes me want to be southern. She says things like, "Do that thang." She has big hair. She tells stories about girdles.
So I'm walking. Really, really fast. And I approach a table with a blue and brown wrapped gift on it. The thought crosses my mind, that looks like the colors of my conference.
Now might be a good time to explain that I'm speaking at a conference in about four weeks. It's here in the valley. My friend asked me to speak and after I said yes she informed me that I'd be the keynote speaker. To an estimated group of 150 (Um. That's about double the size I've ever spoken to.) and that, oh yeah, they usually fly someone in for this event but she's confident that I can do it. Well, good then. I'm glad my friend thinks I can do it. What about everyone else? So I started praying for a heaping helping of God's anointing.
And I, you know, went to the Beth Moore conference praying for a giant blessing and some serious inspiration. I briskly walked past the table with the blue and brown wrapped gift on it. The thought crossed my mind, that looks like the colors of my conference.
I noticed the brochure lying there just as my mom, who'd flown in for Beth Moore, grabbed me from behind and shouted, "That's you!" Let me tell you, it was incredibly humbling, disjointing, and bizarre to look down and see your picture staring back up at you. In a sports arena. At the Beth Moore conference.
Later, Beth was teaching from 1 Peter 1. She was hilarious. She was evangelical. She was theological. She spouted Scripture off the tippy top of her sweet little blond head. She prayed with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And it dawned on me.
My conference is in a month. What are the chances that all the women who attended the Beth Moore Conference, and will attend the one that I'll be speaking at, will also attend a conference in between where the speaker is horribly boring and incredibly off Scriptural base? Because I do not want to follow Beth Moore. I do not want to follow the energetic, adorable, inspired, sweet southern bell.
What's that you say? The chances that they'll attend a really bad conference in the next four weeks are slim. Yeah. That's pretty much what I thought.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
We had a month between the time we were chosen by Matthew's mother and his birthday. That month was filled with washing onesies and buying diapers. In the early weeks of his life we were consumed with formula and poop and more formula and more poop and sleepless nights and how on earth we could get our infant to stop being angry with the world. I didn't have time to read up on transracial adoption.
But in the months that followed, as we waited to find out the fate of our family, I devoured essays, books, and blogs that addressed the new fact of our family.
Obviously, we are three parts vanilla and one part chocolate, brown and white, Caucasian and African-American. What kind of adversity will this bring?
Honestly, we've been blessed with accepting family and friends. Even public response has been incredibly favorable. On occasion I've received a sideways glance or a narrowing of the eyes but who can really be sure if this is the result of our different hues or the fact that one of the boys is throwing a public tantrum. I try very hard not to jump to any conclusions.
I try very hard not to be sensitive.
By far, the question I get asked the most is, "Where is he from?" In the days of increased Ethiopian, Haitian and Rwandan adoptions, people are always very curious as to what exotic place my son came from. I smile as I say, "He's from California." Both my boys were born in California, I think to myself but don't say aloud.
When we were in Anaheim we were walking quickly through Downtown Disney. I was pushing our double stroller with both boys in it. A woman passed by and looked into the stroller. Though I cannot be 100% sure, I am confident that she said, "That is not your baby!" I kept walking my way. She kept walking hers. I didn't say anything to anyone for about an hour. I just silently fumed. Not biologically, no, but spare me the commentary on my family.
The other day a woman approached me. She was quite elderly. Wearing a giant smile she asked me where my black boy came from. I tried to ignore the fact that she'd just clarified my son by his pigment. As I said before, I'm trying to be gracious with this question but it is starting to grate on my nerves. Earth. Africa by ancestry. The United States. California. It didn't bother me before but as he gets older it becomes more problematic.
"Mommy, why do people always ask me where I came from?" he'll question. It suggests that something about him is foreign, different. And, being in our family, something about him is different. Our family is different. But I want him to realize this for himself. In his time. Not because other people focus on our differences.
I told the woman that he is from California. She then told me how handsome he is, that she used to teach on the east coast and that the majority of her class was always black. She said that, living in Utah, she missed seeing more black people. I was trying to be friendly but also trying to get my kids away because we are very careful about letting our oldest child make his own conclusions about the differences between him and his brother based on our family and not on societal stigmas. So I just smiled and more specifically told her the city that he'd been born in. She seemed so genuinely happy to be having the conversation with me. Clearly she was elderly enough that she is probably very progressive in her thinking but I was still astounded when she finished with, "And then you adopted him. Obviously he isn't yours."
Good thing we were halfway out the door already. Good thing we were already about to go separate directions. Good thing Matthew is two and not twelve.
My son does not biologically belong to me. In fact, he doesn't belong to me at all because my children are not my possessions. But he has full rights in this family. His skin does not match mine but I am no less his mother than I am Garrett's. I am no less responsible for him than I am for his brother. I am no less in love with him than I am with my firstborn. Matthew is ours.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
One afternoon we were at California Adventure and I happened to spot "Sailor" Mickey. The line wasn't overly long so I jumped in it. When there was just one kid left in front of Garrett, he tripped over a light stand that was bolted into the ground. Putting his hand behind him to break his fall, he sliced it open on the top of the bolt.
He instantly started sobbing.
We managed to calm him down just in time.
Garrett showed him his cut and Mickey pantomimed that he was sorry. Then they hugged.
As soon as it was over I inquired about where I might find first aid. I wasn't sure how deep the cut was and since he'd fallen on a dirty Disney bolt I figured it needed to be cleaned out. That's when, for some inexplicable reason, The Rock Star freaked. He was no longer crying over his hand but he didn't want any part of someone looking at it.
"It's my hand and if I don't want someone looking at it I don't have to let them!" He sobbed. Troy, my mom and I continued heading to first aid anyway, despite his protests. The same child had already ridden Space Mountain and Tower of Terror so the fact that he was having a giant hissy fit over someone cleaning his hand was bordering on the absurd. It was as though he thought someone was waiting with a hacksaw to remove his hand in its entirety.
When we got there we were greeted by two registered nurses. One took down my name, address and phone number while the other cleaning Garrett's hand. Without a hacksaw, even. The first nurse informed me, "Don't worry, we aren't going to charge you. We just need your information for our records."
I almost said, "You aren't going to charge me? Maybe I should always come here for my medical care."
The Rock Star wasn't maimed or killed inside of First Aid. I know, it's amazing. He even managed a smile.
And then he got this.
We then joked with Garrett, telling him that he was the first person in our family to visit that particular Disney attraction.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I mean really, really soon.
Many of my friends have gone before me and they've all survived. They've done it with grace. Some of them have embraced it, even.
I'm not doing so well with it. I'm about ready to pitch a big fit, in fact. Not that the alternative is a better option. It's just that, in a couple of weeks, I am going to go to bed and when I wake up I'll be thirty. I still remember when thirty was old.
I've been trying to reflect on why I feel like throwing a big tantrum. I think I've figured it out.
I always thought I'd be something really great by thirty.
I wanted to be a talented actress or a published writer or, at the very least, teaching the classics to a room of high school students. And I guess the overachiever in me feels, well, underachieved.
To be excited about leaving my twenties behind.
To remember that I certainly could have, at the very least, been teaching a room of high school students by now. That I chose to be home raising my men, every moment. That I have dreams not realized but they pale in comparison to the joy of being with my boys.
And I'm learning a really big lesson. You see, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
I'm trying to learn that nothing else matters. Christ lives in me. If I live a life of extreme faith, that's enough. If I'm present and engaged in the lives of my boys, that's enough. It doesn't matter if I'm 29 or 30. If I'm being intentional and radical for God nothing else matters.
But it wouldn't hurt if you could remind me of that on September 8.
Friday, August 19, 2011
But I've seen my pictures. I had long hair. Beyond that, the similarities are uncanny.
When we were at California Adventure, three of us rode California Screamin'. I know where the camera is that takes your picture at the end so, like the big dork that I am, I stuck my tongue out and hung it to the side. My hair was flying around behind me like nobody's business and gave the appearance that I didn't really have any to speak of.
When my dad saw the picture he asked me what I was doing with my face. I managed to explain that I'd stuck out my tongue before blurting out, "It looks like Garrett."
Later, my dad said that when he first walked up and saw the shot he was confused because he knew Garrett hadn't been on the ride but it looked like he was in the picture. My husband said he apparently didn't contribute anything to the child.
Unfortunately, it was next to impossible to take a picture of the picture because of the angle. In retrospect, I should have bought it. Even if my tongue is hanging half out of my mouth. Even if it isn't flattering. Because it's even harder to see it now that it's off the camera and on the computer.
While we were waiting in line to meet Mickey--before Garrett cut open his hand--Troy showed him the picture on the camera. "Who do you think this is a picture of?" He squinted his eyes.
"I can't tell. It's all blurry."
"If you had to guess?"
Cocking his head to the side he replied, "It's me." And, you know what, in 25 years it just might be.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
First, we went to Sea World, courtesy of my brother who just got a promotion and is now Big Wig in Charge of Community Relations (or something like that). He doesn't even have to wear the standard Sea World uniform anymore. But he still gets us in for free which is what really matters. Right?
My mom went too. But she took the picture. Troy wasn't there yet.
After our day at Sea World we headed to the beach to camp for a week. For the first few days it was just my parents, the boys and me. On Wednesday I went to pick up Troy at the airport. We celebrated our 8th anniversary with a delicious seafood lunch. My parents took the boys to the zoo for the day.
Have I mentioned The Rock Star's obsession with Hawaii, California, water, waves, palm trees, boogie boards, surfing, sharks, etc? I'm sure I have.
We played football.
Between the six of us, there wasn't much we didn't ride.
Yesterday we drove home from Anaheim and got in late. We're sad that vacation is over but so glad we got to spend so much time with family! (A few more pictures and stories will likely follow.)
Monday, August 15, 2011
Finding Nemo (all of us)
Autopia (all of us)
Space Mountain (Troy, Garrett, my dad and me)
Jungle Cruise (all of us)
Pirates of the Caribbean (all of us)
Indiana Jones (my mom, my dad, Troy and me--in shifts)
Winnie the Pooh (all of us)
Haunted Mansion (all of us)
Splash Mountain (Garrett, Troy, my mom, my dad and me--in shifts)
pet the goats in the little ranch near Thunder Mountain which we were supposed to ride but which was broken down (Troy, Garrett, Matthew and me)
ridden the Columbia around
Now we're back at the hotel (courtesy of my parents--thanks Mom and Dad) where The Rock Star, his daddy and his grandparents are enjoying a dip in the pool. The Little Buddy is napping and we're gearing up for a night back at the parks. We'll also be here tomorrow so I think we're doing pretty well.
The Rock Star says that his favorite ride so far has been Splash Mountain. When we went on Space Mountain you'd have thought he was being killed. My dad and I were sitting in front of Garrett and Troy and I seriously thought he was going to be inconsolable when it was over. "AHHHHH!" was his cry for the entire ride. Yet, when it was over, he shrieked, "Let's do it again! Right now!" He's a lot braver than his little brother who clung to me throughout all of Pirates of the Caribbean and cried. As we got close to the end, he dove into Troy's arms and was somehow content. Apparently daddies are much better protectors than mommies. Especially when fake pirate mannequins are involved. Matthew's favorite ride so far has probably been Winnie the Pooh. We're pretty sure he was calling it Winnie the Poop but, you know what, it's confusing. Who names a bear "Pooh" anyway? I mean, that name is just asking for every teenage boy in the world over to poke fun.
Speaking of Matthew, he's had a language explosion in the past couple of weeks. (FINALLY!) Instead of just repeating, he's voluntarily saying all sorts of things. My favorite thing he says-while standing in front of me with his arms reaching up--is, "I hold you."
I usually answer, "You want to hold me?"
So I lift him up. He throws his arms around me. He's done this several times today. In his Mickey Mouse shirt. His brother walks beside me in his Buzz Lightyear one. And off we go.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
We just had a blast camping at the beach for a week.
My children are beach bums. Especially the oldest. He wanted to spend all day, every day, on the beach. And he practically did.
Troy flew in on Wednesday and we slept in the tent. The boys continued to sleep in the trailer with my parents. Each morning, when I walked into the RV, Matthew declared, "Mommy's home!" As though, you know, I'd left for the night. To go far, far away. Instead of ten feet away. In the tent.
We'll be home from this vacation on Wednesday night and pictures will follow. We're taking the boys to a surprise location on Monday and Tuesday. Some call it The Happiest Place on Earth. We'll see if the boys agree.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Then again, maybe there are lots of things that have faded into the past that I still remember fondly. Things, mostly from my childhood.
Like how the summers lasted FOREVER!
How we spent all day, everyday, playing with our friends. How if we didn't have any friends, we'd go door to door knocking and asking if there were any kids to play with. How we would play with these friends and their mom's would occasionally make us Kool Aid to be served with cookies. And how we'd be out all afternoon, as long as we were back by dinner, or dark.
And we did that without cell phones, or GPS tracking software digitally implanted to our skulls, our parents didn't always know exactly where we were. We rode our bikes miles to the mini mart to buy a candy bar . . . or a soda . . or if we were lucky both.
We didn't always have the latest video game system, and even when our parents broke down and bought it we were required to spend most of our time outdoors, where we'd rather be anyway.
Things seemed so much safer, and simpler, and happier.
It wasn't quite Mayberry USA, but in my memories its close.
I was just wondering what you missed from the way things used to be.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I don't mean camping, as in towing a trailer or fifth wheel that comes complete with running water, electricity, and a bathroom. I mean with a tent, on the ground, in sleeping bags.
At the same time we're not extremely hardcore. We don't hike miles into the mountains, miles away from the other nearest human being, packing in with everything on your back. At least not yet. Not with a two year old and a five year old.
This summer we went to Tahoe. We tent camped and had a great time. The Rock Star and Little Buddy did great. The highlights of our vacation have been talked about here . .
But one of the things I really enjoyed that needed further elaboration was how much we affirmed that we could do without.
At the first campsite we stayed at we had no electricity, no cell service (unless you wanted to hike a mile), and only a spicket with running water. The boys did fine. The parents did fine. We survived a week with no TV, not email, no internet, and even no newspapers. We didn't need a PSP or movies or even board games to entertain ourselves. And, check this, WE HAD A GREAT TIME! Sure we had a tent the size of a small cottage, and granted we were at Tahoe in the summer where there was water and great beaches and things to do, but so much of the daily distrations and entertainment was left behind, and forgotten, and NOT MISSED.*
And we had to spend time together. All the time, together. We didn't each sequester ourselves to different corners of the house. We ate together, played together, even slept nearly on top of one another. Christian speaker, Gary Smalley has talked befofe about the benefits that families who camp receive. He says its in the togetherness and working through the mini-crisises that always accompany camping. Because in camping there will be a crisis. You will have to scramble and improvise but you will get through it. We didn't have a major crisis but we did have bugs including a few (thank you Lord that it was only a few) mosquitos, we did have to set up our tent the first night in the middle of the night, we did have a couple thunderstorms blow in and we had to huddle in our tent. All of our food had to be stored in a bear box, because there were bears nearby . . . and a black bear even walked right through our campsite, ten feet away from us while we talked. Two feet away from the Rock Star as he slept soundly inside the tent only a thin piece of fabric between himself and the ursa americanus.
Certainly it was nice to get home to a bed with a mattress and air conditioning. But coming back reminds us of how little of what we came back to was actually needed. Of how much we could actually do without.
While we may not be as hardy as our ancestors who trekked across the western United States on foot and by covered wagon, we a least can say that we didn't perish during out week without modern conveniences . . . in fact we rather enjoyed ourselves.
*It must be stated, for the record, that we were not camping during football season. Had we been missing a meaningful season by the Chargers or Seahawks that might have been missed.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I told you I was playing an alien in the Vacation Bible School skits.
Soora (Sue-ra) is a good alien. She's in charge of security on the space ship. She does a great deal of frantic typing on a keyboard. Yes, her yellow collar is attached with paper clips.
She talks like a computer. Most the time. When she remembers.
My husband might have hijacked my facebook page last night and set this as my profile picture. He might have then called my mom and told her to look at my page. He might have also told her that it was nice knowing her.
The kids at Vacation Bible School are hilarious. The little ones, except my son, look skeptically at me and want to make sure I'm "good" before approaching. Some of the older ones suspend their disbelief and ask me questions about Soora's planet and her way of life. This is like an improvisation dream come true.
One of the boys is not very nice. He came up to me, with a dead serious look on his face. "You're not really an alien," he accused.
"Sure. I. Am." *insert alien voice
"No you aren't. Your ears are different colors."
Oh so that's what tipped you off. "On. My. Planet. Our. Ears. Are. Two. Toned."
He blinked. Twice. Then he rolled his eyes. "You're wearing paper clips to keep the yellow thing on and I can see your hair through the cap. You aren't real."
As though any of those things actually disqualify me from being an alien. I mean, unless this kid has a PhD in extra terrestrial beings I'd say he hasn't made any really good point yet. "You. Are. Incredibly. Perceptive." I said. Annoyed. He was clearly spoiling everyone's fun.
He kept us this interrogation and as much as I tried to get him to smile or pretend, he just refused. I started wondering what in his little life has happened to make him so jaded, so incapable of make believe.
I don't want to live in a world where we can't
pretend to be Idina Menzel while we're singing into our hairbrushes at age 29 and 11 months make believe. My boys are accustomed to me prancing around the yard growling at them. They know that even though I look exactly the same as I did before dinner when I was "mommy" I am now "monster". That little boy made me sad.
But try as I might I could not get him to suspend his disbelief for one second. So when he begrudgingly walked up to have his picture taken with the cast, I did what any sensible alien from another planet would do. I gave him alien bunny ears in his photo.
He'll see the picture tonight. He'll probably be mad that the fake alien with the paper clip collar dared to give him rabbit ears.
But. I. Just. Couldn't. Help. It. It. Might. Have. Been. The. Pressure. On. My. Cranium. From. The. Red. Sparkly. Headband.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
My costume involves incredibly pointy alien-elf ears and a bald cap.
Yesterday the associate pastor and another friend from church were walking to the convenience store across the street. "You should come," they said, joking.
I just looked at them, trying to figure out if a challenge had been issued.
Because what about my personality and theatrical background would suggest that I'd have any problem at all with walking around in public looking like an alien?
Yeah. In a couple of years my sons aren't going to want to have anything to do with me.