Thursday, December 29, 2016

It Is Well

My husband informed me last night that, just maybe, I should think about blogging again. On account of the fact that it's been more than a week.

Since I last blogged we:

-Legally adopted Will
-Had Christmas Eve
-Celebrated Christmas
-Celebrated Post Christmas with my parents once they arrived on the 26th

It's been a busy week.

Our Christmas was such a sweet time celebrating the birth of our Savior. It was especially wonderful because we held our boy tight--knowing he's here permanently and forever. There was really never a question with this one. Once his parents signed on the line in June, it was smooth sailing. It's just that, with everything that has gone on in the past for us, there was always the nagging pull in the back of my mind that something might possibly go horribly wrong.

It didn't.

On December 21, we gathered with close friends at the courthouse downtown. Our judge who was seriously the Doogie Howser of judges, was so nice. I didn't feel like she could possibly be a day older than me. But then I looked her up online because I'm weird and stalky like that and she graduated from the University of Utah in 1995. So, unless she is actually Doogie Howser, she's roughly eight years older than me. But, really, still. It's not like I'm going to be a judge in eight years. It was pretty much my life goal to be a mommy though so I AM TOTALLY ACHIEVING IT ALL, Y'ALL.

Diapers. Report cards. Teaching kids how to swim and how to read and how to do long division. It's all happening!

She was just great though and, in my stalking, I discovered that she practiced law in New York for awhile. I feel like, in a parallel world where she wasn't the judge and I wasn't nervous and tripping over my words, we could have been good friends.

In the end, my child spit up all over his collared white (because what was I thinking) shirt, she declared us fit to parent forever, we posed for a picture, and the rest is history.

I love this family. We're quirky and silly and we deal with some real life stuff just like everyone else. But, at the end of the day, there isn't anyone I'd rather wake up to or come home to or live day in and out with. These are my guys. All four of them.

If I was like a princess, I would feel very safe in their arms. Turns out, I'm nothing like a princess. I'm a boymom though and through. Snips, snails, puppy dog tails, mud and muck. Those are the things God has blessed me with. Still, I feel very safe and very loved in the middle of them.

One night, just after Will's adoption was finalized and just before Christmas, Troy and I sat on our couch and stared at the twinkling lights on our tree. Our three boys were asleep upstairs and I was snuggled in my guy's arms. We worship the One. We have amazing friends and family who love us. We're teaching our boys to adore the Savior of the world, come as a tiny babe. These are the things that matter.

It is well with my soul. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Gift

In five and a half hours, barring any unforeseen roadblocks, Will will officially become a Bassham. The weight of that isn't lost on me. I'm thrilled. It's what we've been waiting six and a half months for. But the me who has raised an adopted child for nearly eight years knows that, while this day is of vital importance, the journey doesn't end here.

The adoption process doesn't stop when the judge declares him ours henceforth and forever. It is stunningly beautiful, a masterpiece painting of the love our God has for us when He adopts us into His family. It is also loss and anguish. The adoption relationship is ever evolving and we, as his parents, must be willing participants and, in fact, advocates of that evolution.

Today, Will's birth certificate will change. It will list me as his mother, as though I felt every burning labor pain, as though I watched his tiny body emerge from mine. I did not. It will list Troy as his father, as though he stood by, holding my hand while I pushed this boy into the world. We did not give him his beginning.

His original birth certificate will be wiped away.

And so we made sure to obtain it months ago. The information his mother gave the hospital is preserved in a safe, that he might have it one day, that who he began as is not erased forever.

Today is a day for joy and we will celebrate.

But, under that elation is the knowledge that our joy comes from grief. The grief he will battle, in ripples and waves and, sometimes, tsunamis as he navigates this world of nature and nurture. The grief his parents felt as they placed his life into my arms. The grief they continue to feel--whether in moments or in constants.

Today, he will be ours.

But it remains our job to teach him that he was first, and always will be, theirs.

This story is a tangled web of hope and expectation and sadness and miracles. What began as the dream of his sister more than two years ago will become the reality of her brother becoming our legal son. Finally.

Happy Adoption Day, Will. My promise to you is that I will let you feel whatever you feel. I will always be here for you. You will never have to worry about hurting me with your concerns or desires to know your family and your beginning. This is your journey. I'm so glad that our Father gave me such an important role in it.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Reason

We took our children to see Santa. None of them believe in Santa Claus. Garrett and Matthew are too old for that these days and Will doesn't believe in much of anything yet. He believes that I'll feed him. Although, with the way he sometimes screams like a banshee for his next bottle, I'm not even sure he has complete faith in my follow through. One day, I assume his eyes will light up with the magical fairy tale of Santa Claus but, at the moment, we have no believers.

We had to twist Garrett's arm to sit on Santa's lap "one last time" because we wanted just one picture with all three boys together with him. When we got there, Santa was on his break. We waited forEVER. Will very nearly had an exhausted meltdown at the last moment but he rallied and we got this adorable picture which we paid way too much for.

This isn't a post about visiting Santa though.

I have something important to say.

We have never spent more than $100 dollars on each of our children for Christmas. I am not saying that so that you will feel sorry for them and think we're the poorest of the poor. I am not saying it because I want any kind of sympathy. Nor am I saying it to try to make anyone who spends less than that feel like I'm bragging. That is what we choose to spend. More or less. (Usually less.)

We taught our children from the moment they started believing in Santa that he would bring them ONE parent approved gift. Generally, we've limited this gift to roughly $20 or less. Christmas is a wonderful time of gift giving and receiving. It's magical and there are sparkly lights and pine trees erected inside our homes. Our favorite decorations come out and remind of us Christmases long, long ago. We sip hot cocoa and eat cookies. In our family, we focus on the Christ child, come to set us free. We teach our children that Christmas is in the manger, not in the packages under the tree.

Receiving gifts is a fun tradition. Receiving the Savior is a matter of life or death.

Yesterday, when we were just a few minutes away from meeting Santa, Garrett turned to me, his eyes WIDE as saucers. "What?" I exclaimed because, clearly, something was wrong.

"Did you hear what she's asking Santa for?" he whispered the sentence in one long exhale of air.

There was a girl, probably somewhere between my boys in age, standing just a few feet away with who I assume to be her father. I shook my head from side to side, I hadn't heard. He pulled me down closer to him and whispered, "She wants a hatchimal, an iPad, and a phone!" he paused. "She wants all that. SHE IS ASKING HIM FOR ALL THAT!"

When the boys were in preschool, I realized this was going to be an issue. I stood around and listened as parents told other parents what the red-suited man was bringing their children. I did mental math and gave up when I'd estimated the loot to be well over $500. FOR PRESCHOOLERS! I was getting my kid a couple of toys and some clothes. Long ago, we explained to our children that some kids receive a lot from Santa Claus but that the parents have to approve it all. We told them that we only wanted them getting something small. So as not to ruin what Christmas is all about. They understood and this has been our policy ever since.

"What is a hatchimal?" I asked. He gave me a look that shouted, "HEY, MOM, YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT!" What I was impressed with, in my ten-year-old who doesn't believe that Santa brings anything, was that he seemed not jealous but appalled. There was real concern in his eyes that someone would even dare to ask for ONE of those things, let alone all three.

"It's a thing. It...hatches. It's...well it's really expensive."

He wasn't joking. I searched Amazon. The cheapest one I can find is $150. It's true that it hatches. Once hatched, you can teach it to walk, talk, dance, and play games. Alright, but, for that price, I'd also better be able to teach it to do the dishes, fold the laundry, and change diapers. 

I have no idea if "Santa" is going to bring all of her requests but I'm willing to bet she also has stuff coming from mom and dad and grandparents. Perhaps even aunts and uncles. Maybe she knows the true meaning of Christmas and maybe she doesn't. She certainly knows the true meaning of consumerism. 

I know it sounds like I'm judging because...I am.

I'm judging a society that teaches children that asking for all three of those things isn't pure madness.

I think I was born in the wrong decade. Maybe I'm some kind of old school mom in a new school mom body. I don't know. What I know is that it made me sad. It isn't that we can't afford to spend more than $100. It's that I don't want to. I want them to understand that the stuff will break. The gifts will long go forgotten. 

What we remember about Christmas is the ham at Grandma and Grandpa's house, the way the family laughed when great grandma said she wanted some of every kind of dessert ("A little of each," she'd say.), the way the tinsel shined on Grandma's tree. We remember the roast and potatoes at the other grandparents house, the way their mobile home lit up with just the lights from their table top tree, the sound of my grandmother's laugh which still brings tears of joy to my eyes when I hear it ringing in my memory. We remember being five years old and moving the stuffed bear on the advent calendar. We remember daddy rolling sugar cookies and mommy tucking us in so that Santa could come. We remember Christmas Eve candle light services and carols. We remember Linus and what Christmas is really all about.

We remember Luke 2.

Teach your children to remember these things or, rather, their own versions of these things. Teach them that it is not about phones and iPads and hatchimals. Teach them to be thankful for what they get to give, not what they will receive.

Teach them about Jesus.

But, I mean, if someone knows about a hatchimal that DOES fold laundry, can you pass that info on to me? It's just that I could probably get on board with that.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Remember Me?

Remember me? I used to blog.

I watched this phenomenon happen with so many of my favorite blogs. Writers would blog the heck out of the first handful of years of their kids lives and then close up shop. I was always angry at them because I felt so invested in those kids and I wanted to know what happened to them beyond age seven or eight.

I totally get it now.

They get older. Their issues become much bigger than poop and spit up. In fact, they start taking care of their own poop altogether and they stop spitting up. When they throw up, they're mostly self sufficient. We don't blog their issues because it wouldn't be fair to them.

This year I have blogged far less than any other year. I felt like I was keeping the biggest whopper of secrets for the first five months of the year and anything I wanted to say was filtered through the fact that I wasn't sharing Will's existence with more than a handful of people. I was treasuring him up in my heart and nothing felt blog worthy. I thought for sure I would pick back up with intense writing once he was born because I would want to share every little coo and every little smile. Turns out, we have Instagram for that. It is much quicker and less labor intensive than writing A WHOLE ENTIRE BLOG.

He babbles and smiles but I'm usually busy running to soccer or Kids' Club or cub scouts and I can't sit down and write about it. Maybe when he turns two and starts saying hilarious stuff?

For now, he just practices being the happiest baby on the planet. And I go weeks without blogging. It is what it is.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Real Nativity

It seems that, whenever I have a baby, I get to thinking more about Mary's vital role in the Christmas story. And, okay, so it's not like I had a baby, in the literal sense of the word but, in the past, I have birthed a child. So, I've long been a serious critic of the traditional nativity scene.

I love them. I have many. They are among my most cherished Christmas decorations. But they are ridiculous.

Chosen One straight up just gave birth to a baby in a cave. Or a barn. Or a stable. In any case, it was NOT a hospital bed with doctors and nurses all around. It was not her home with her mother and trusted women of the village.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there was probably a considerable amount of animal feces. There was straw--hopefully some of it was still clean. There was blood and, after the baby, came the rest, the part that horrifies the husbands in the delivery room because, they were totally expecting that baby but, they maybe weren't so knowledgeable about the afterbirth.

I'd like to think that someone wiser in the ways of labor and delivery came along to help Joseph out but the Bible doesn't mention her. Had there been a midwife or a villager, she would have been the first to lay eyes on the Savior and I think she would have warranted a Biblical mention. So I feel like it was maybe just Joe. I've heard of husbands delivering babies in cars or hallways and even the most stoic of them seem a little rattled.

So in a room of animal waste and blood and guts, a baby came into the world. My baby came into the world in a sterile hospital environment. I had every benefit of modern medicine and it still took me approximately thirty seconds of gingerly lowering myself into a sitting position just to perch on the end of a bed. I was certainly not kneeling on any floors, sitting on my feet. Yet, this is always how Mary is depicted. Crouched on her heels like giving birth took nothing out of her.

Yes. We're told that she placed him in a manger because there was no room in the inn. But I don't know any mothers who just put their baby in a bassinet and leave them there all night long. Certainly the manger contained him for a time but I'm willing to bet good money that Mary did a considerable amount of holding him. I think she also laid in a pile of hay--the cleanest Joseph could scoop into a heap. I suspect she looked tired, perhaps swollen, her tunic all in disarray and her head covering askew or, maybe even, folded beneath her for a pillow.

Joseph was, no doubt, overwhelmed. Exhausted. Concerned for his wife's well being and anxious about what the future held. Perhaps it was he who sat on his heels, staring at the baby while Mary slept, watching the rise and fall of his tiny chest.

I have no doubt that the shepherds found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in the manger just as the Bible reports. I just think Mary looked haggard and was, at best, propped up in the corner of the stable. I think Joseph was welcoming but disheveled from his recent hands on experience with childbirth. I think the animals were slightly agitated, their home overtaken by first a screaming woman and then a crying baby.

I want to add a nativity to my collection, one in which Mary is lying down. Joseph is sitting beside her. The baby is sleeping. He is not glowing nor is he wearing a crown. The shepherds are there but the wise men are still two years away.

This, perhaps, is Christmas.

Frozen statues in the cold
Washed in moonlight, blue and gold
Mary's babe in plastic hay
Quiet wonder on her face
Mary you look so serene
Far too pretty, much to clean
We might think we know you well
But what stories would you tell?
Of all the dirt and dust and shame
Every burning labor pain

And as I turn to walk away
I hear you say
I am real
Don't turn me into memory or myth
Let me be real
And I'll show you what it means to love like this
To be real
-Nichole Nordeman

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Half a Year

Dear Will,

You're half a year old today. That seems utterly and totally impossible. Six months. This shouldn't seem insane to me because, after all, I have a ten year old who was JUST BORN LIKE YESTERDAY. But this growing up thing is something a mama never gets used to. It's the strangest thing, being a mother. One lives in a constant state of wishing it was yesterday and wishing it was tomorrow.

Yesterday you were smaller. You fit more easily into the crook of my arm. You slept more, snuggled more, stayed put. Tomorrow you will be bigger. You will learn to crawl and walk and do long division. I'm always hoping for more milestones achieved and mourning the time passed.

You're so grown up now. You roll both directions, occasionally sit unassisted without toppling into a heap, babble incessantly, laugh at everything, smile at everyone. Today, for the very first time, you saw me, standing several feet away while another mommy held you and your lower lip folded into a frown and you whimpered as if to say, "That's my mom. The lady over there. I'd like her, please." On the one hand, I could do without that annoying stranger danger thing. On the other hand, my heart was happy that you like me. You really like me.
You're the cutest thing with a larger than life personality. It's becoming slightly less chill than when you were tinier. You have a voice. You've found it and you enjoy shrieking at the top of your lungs any time we put you down. It's like you think you're the king around here.

Oh, who are we kidding, the way we cater to your every whim would suggest that you are, at the very least, a prince.

Every morning, you snuggle into my arms for your bottle, your soft curls brushing my cheek, and I can't help but catch my breath for a moment and thank God for you. Because you are amazing. Sometimes, if there's time, you fall back asleep, there in the crook of my arm, and I listen to you breathe, your sweet milk breath, an exhaling of life and joy and contentment.

Your cappuccino skin, chocolate eyes, and wild curls are a constant reminder of your perfect blend of mother and father, of brother and brother. Although, speaking of those curls, your hair is having an identity crisis. It's patchy curls on top which fade into a giant bald spot which trickles down into a mullet. You're like Crusty the Clown, an old man, and a redneck all at the same time. It's ridiculous and completely adorable in a hot mess kind of way.

You think solid food is just divine and you'll eat anything. Seriously, at six months old, your list of consumed foods is quite impressive including but certainly not limited to, green beans, peas, squash, carrots, corn, potatoes, yams, peaches, pears, apples, bananas, blueberries, beets, cranberries, oatmeal, noodles, beef, and a few tastes of pumpkin pie. I'm thankful for this love of food as it finally has you on the fast track to Chub City. (And by that I mean that you might finally get out of the 2nd percentile for weight. Who knows? We'll find out on Monday.)

I'm really glad that you stopped screaming like a banshee every time we put you in the car. You still have your moments, especially when it's dark, but it is so much better. My ears thank you. So do my nerves. It might have something to do with how much you like music and the fact that it's almost always playing when we're driving all around town. I feel like I hunkered down at home more with your brothers because I had nowhere I really had to be. But you, buddy, you're just along for all the rides. It's an almost constant go go go lifestyle and you're handling it like a pro.

I love you so much.

I can't believe there was a time when you weren't here, when I didn't know you. I could never have imagined the way you would change me and make me better.

Thank you for being you. Perfect. Amazing. Exactly what I didn't know I needed.