God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life


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Let Me Do It

Every development stage comes with their ups and downs. With every stage they grow some sort of independence but also gain a number of things that can be trouble. Right now, both of our kids are going through similar developments, the stage I like to call “Let me do it!”

Eva is at that beautiful age where everything you do it is fun, new and interesting. She has yet to realize that they are monotonous, uninspiring chores that she will get to do for the rest of her life. These things include flushing the toilet, sweeping the floor, getting dressed in the morning, and selecting a spoon to eat with.

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Orange spoon, green cup, and Boo at the bottom of my cereal bowl

Eva wants to do anything and everything we do.  Here’s just a few pictures of her taking control.

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 Dad, I’ll be driving home today.

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 Let me pour you some tea, be careful it’s hot!

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 I’m going to carry my baby like Mommy carries hers.  (except Mommy’s baby is standing on the slide!)

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 I’ll fix Elmo, just call me Doctor Eva.

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We need a picture here.  First you measure…

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..then you hammer a nail in.

You want her to pick up these things, but she also picks up on those bad habits you have.

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Checking her phone at the dinner table.

Eli’s starting to walk right now, so he’s starting to develop his independence.  Right now, it’s at the dinner table that he pushes it the most.  He no longer appreciates being fed, he wants to feed himself.

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 I have my own plate!

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 And I can eat whatever I want

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Like cake!

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Just don’t take it away from me!


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A Year…it’s really been at year? (Steph’s perspective)

collageBelieve it or not, one year ago today we were holding Eli in our arms for the first time. In some ways it feels like so long ago and in others it feels like it was yesterday. This has been one roller coaster of a year. In truth, every year of parenting is a roller coaster, but this one was unique.

With Eva everything just worked out. We couldn’t have asked for a more positive adoption experience, or even a better fit, with both the birth parents and Eva. Of course we experienced the ups and downs of being new parents, but everything was new and wonderful…almost magical. Never in my wildest dreams…okay, maybe my wildest…did I expect what would hit us the following year.

We learned of Eli’s expected arrival when Eva was only 8 months old. While I may have made it sound like I was wavering about whether to say yes or no to welcoming this new sibling into our home, I knew right when I heard the news that we had to say yes. I could not say no to Eva’s blood sibling. I could not say no to a situation that God seemed to have served to us on a silver platter. As adoptive parents, you can’t ask for a better scenario…well, maybe waiting a little longer between children would have been better. As we often do, I did struggle saying yes to God in this situation. Had we had enough time with Eva? Did we have enough love, energy, and resources for another so soon? Could we afford both the adoption expenses and to raise a second child? As you well know, we did answer yes, which led us to what happened a year ago.

Eli came into the world on his own terms. We went to the hospital three different times. He was on track to arrive early morning, but took his sweet time. Once he decided it was time, he didn’t even wait for the doctor, and the poor nurse ended up delivering him most of the way. Yes, he made quite the entrance. We should have known then that things weren’t going to be easy.

Soon after delivery, while birthmom was resting, Scott and I looked at each other and I said something to the effect that it just doesn’t feel the same this time. I don’t feel like I’m bonding with him. I just feel like I’m taking care of someone else’s child. Scott reassured me that he felt different as well, but it was all okay. We had heard about delayed bonding in our adoption classes. Everything would be fine. We decided to head home for dinner to see Eva. I sobbed the whole way home. What had we done? We got back to the hospital and I sobbed some more. I wanted to be home with my baby girl, not there taking care of someone else’s baby. I texted with my very supportive friends and got some much needed sleep. I was able to see everything in a new light the next morning…thank goodness. Apparently the stress and lack of sleep had gotten to me. That day I felt more at ease and felt like we’ve got this, we just did it last year. Everything will be fine.

IMG_2096Eva took to her new brother pretty well and things went relatively smoothly. However, neither of us were prepared for the chaos factor, nor the witching hour (the hour before supper). Eva continued to go to day care for a few months so I could focus on Eli during the day. Bonding was still and issue for me. I would do things for him, but not because I wanted to, because I had to. Eva was a needy baby. She was difficult to put to sleep and wanted to be held all the time, which made bonding a bit easier with a sleeping baby on your chest. Eli fell asleep easily and did not want to be held while sleeping most of the time. This was great since we also had a toddler to take care of, but it did not help with bonding.

IMG_2353Eli and I had our first major bonding experience when I took him on a solo trip with me to Portland, OR to a friend’s wedding. Everything went so well, and we had finally made a connection. Only two days after returning from our trip, we got the call. The “you need to call your lawyer and file an interlocutory order right away because another potential birthfather has stepped forward and wants Eli” call. Our world was shattered and so was my bond with Eli. I couldn’t bring myself to bond with him if he was only going to be taken away. IMG_2321In fact, part of me just wanted to give him back then and there. After all, as horrible as it sounds, if we were going to lose him it would be much easier to do so after 2 months than a year. We struggled through a number of phone conversations that night, as we wanted to prepare our families before they made the trip out for Eli’s baptism that weekend. Yes, that’s right, we had to celebrate only a few days after hearing this heart wrenching news. To add to the stress, I had just made the decision to be a stay at home mom (definitely not something I took lightly), and now we were looking at possibly paying outrageous legal bills.

IMG_2717Over the next months, we went through spurts of hearing nothing, and then hearing more. While my bond was getting stronger, it would fracture a little with every bit of news and bring old memories and feelings back to the surface. We made it to our court date in July where we were elated that we were going to have this behind us, only to be told by our lawyer and the adoption agency that it still wasn’t over, that this really only would slow someone down. We left the courthouse feeling like we were no better off than when we had arrived. Then we made it to October, when Eli’s adoption was finalized! We had a party and celebrated, but I still had my reservations. I knew that the adoption file could be reopened until a year from finalization. While we were distracted by all of this, and not to mention a toddler as well, Eli was growing by leaps and bounds and hitting milestones faster than we could turn around. We missed it. We didn’t appreciate it. We said, finally you’re rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, etc. We have continued to have these ups and downs with hearing news, as well as the typical ups and downs of parenting, and we have missed our baby’s infancy. Eli, our baby boy, is a year old now. What happened?

However, I also look at Eli now and think, “You are my son. I do not want to live without you. It would be more than I can bear.” Somewhere during this roller coaster of a year he has stolen my heart…we have bonded. All those things I worried about when we first heard of his expected arrival are obsolete. His smile and laugh melt my heart, just like his sister’s. We are a family and he knows he is loved. In the end, that is really all that really matters.  IMG_6980IMG_0457 Happy birthday, baby boy!IMG_4155


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Picture for Two

Those of you who follow the blog know that we like to take pictures.   Luckily for us we have two kids that are extremely photogenic.  We have tons of pictures of Eva smiling and of Eli smiling.  But the elusive picture is the one where they are both looking at the camera and smiling.

We can get them to sit together, but one will look at the camera.  When we get the second child to look at the camera, the first one is looking away.  When we get the first one back at the camera, the second has started to crawl away.

 

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Eli, not Eva

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Eva, not Eli

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 Daddy, Mommy, neither Eli or Eva

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Buddy, it’s not that bad!

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 Look up Eli

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Eli, over here!

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Alright…wait Eva look up again!

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I’ll look first

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Then I’ll look

It’s a lot of work trying to get and hold the attention of two kids this young, but the great thing is when you do get them both looking at the camera and smiling, it’s worth it.

 

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Over Analysis of Monsters, Inc.

If you don’t care about Monsters, Inc., haven’t seen it, seen it only once, or think a post about TV shapes is silly, go ahead and skip this post. If not please read on.

If you are into deep thoughts about Pixar movies, please read this post about Andy’s mom in Toy Story.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Tipping Point” discusses how a product or an idea can start small but evolve into a trend. One the factors outlined in the book was the Stickiness Factor, which describes how an idea must have value in the first place, and how it must get stuck in people for it to ever become a trend. For example, when Blue’s Clues was on Nickelodeon they would air the same episode five days in a row. Children that were surprised or confounded by the episode for the first viewing would be experts at following the clues by the end of the week.

When reading this my thought was that they’d be bored by the end of the week, but that wasn’t the case. Knowing what would happen next was actually a big plus for children. Now, what if you watched a show nine million times?

That’s where we are with Monsters, Inc.

Eva still loves this movie, although she calls it Boo (she was Boo for Halloween). She loves knowing what happens, and she still laughs at the same moments.

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Of course, I’ve also seen it multiple times which gives me ample time to analyze and over analyze everything about the movie. Thank God for Pixar. Pixar movies provide enough depth for multiple viewings without wanting to scratch my eyes out.

Without further ado, here is my over analysis of Monsters, Inc.

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have all the doors on the scare floor out at first than having to wait for a new door each time?

How is Harryhausen’s less than five minutes from work?

How the heck are two scarers going for the record during a scare shortage?

What is the time span for the All-Time Scare Record?

At the beginning of the film we see that Sully and Randall are just under 100,000. What we don’t know is if the record is a lifetime record, a record for a year or something shorter. We can assume that it’s not a lifetime record because those are typically achieved at the end of someone’s career, and Sully/Randall both seem young and in their primes. It shouldn’t be a daily record, because the grossery employee talks about it before they start the day at work. So, what is it?

The work day is 8 hours long based on reasonable guesses from the information given:

Scaring starts at 9:00
They all are about to leave at 6:00
There is a half hour lunch from 12:00 to 12:30
Probably a half hour wind down from 5:30 to 6:00

Sully achieves 34 Scare Units (SUs) his first time through and 500 his first half hour. 34 SUs filled his first cylinder, so let’s assume the capacity is a rounder 35 SUs. This is about 14 cylinders for that half hour, but with the unusual circumstance of a slumber party, you can take away about 5 cylinders to get a more typical average of 315 SUs per half hour (9 x 35), or 630 SUPH (Scare Units Per Hour). This equates to about 5040 SUs a day.

They are at about 100,000 units when the movie begins, and using the average of 5040 SUs a day, this equals about 19.8 days.

Assuming that their months are arranged similar to ours, and their work weeks are similar, this means that the record is for a month (this month I’ll have 21 work days when you subtract the holidays).

Does time move at the same speed in each world?

There are two or three things that may imply they are different :

  1. When the movies (including the prequel Monsters University) follow the scarer into the room, that always seems to take longer than when the action is on the scare floor.
  2. More importantly, Boo is gone for a day in the Monster world. Did the parents not notice for a day?
  3. How old was Boo when Sully sees her at the end of the movie?

Of course, I can debunk all three of these.

  1. Maybe they really were just that quick on the scare floor.
  2. Perhaps the parents were in fact out looking for her, but at that point wouldn’t the room show indications of being searched by parents or police.
  3. The movie implies that a year has passed from the time Sully took over and when the door was rebuilt (the chart that Sully holds shows a year of growth). During my first viewing of the movie, I felt like more time than that had passed for Boo because of how much more clearly she could say kitty, but after having a two year old at home, I know it can take as little as a few days for a spoken word to become more clear.

I suppose I would prefer the version where the human world moves slower so you wouldn’t have worried parents. It also warms your heart to know that Boo remembers Kitty so vividly after year, but it would be even more poignant if more than a year had passed. But, I’d say they move at the same speed.

Is Randall an idiot?

In two situations where he is looking to see if someone is hiding from him in a room, he goes invisible essentially hiding himself. Then he makes himself visible for no apparent reason.

The first time was on the scare floor with Sully and Boo hiding. He goes invisible to climb under table next to Sully. Why not just run down the aisle, visible or invisible, and look.

The second time was in the locker room. He goes invisible, moves to the other side of the room, makes himself visible and opens 2/3rds of the doors. Why not stay invisible and look under all of them?

Different worlds shouldn’t have non-rectangles.

A personal pet peeve of mine. It actually started with Battlestar Galactica. In that show, each document, picture or playing card would be rectangular with the exception that all four corners would be cut off.

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What a waste of paper and time. Now, in this movie the screens are not squared, rather more like a mesa.

Sully and Mike on TV

Why? Because Monsters would rather look at larger borders at the top of their TV instead of a wider picture… I guess.

Does the title sequence fit thematically with the rest of the film?

Roger Ebert once did an interview with Martin Scorsese talking about Raging Bull. He railed on the idea that it was a “boxing movie”, that anyone who characterized a movie by it’s content like that was missing what the movie was actually about.

So, what is Monsters, Inc. about? It’s not a monster movie, but something deeper. I feel like the two major elements of the film is the relationship between Mike and Sully, and the relationship between Sully and Boo. Mike and Sully’s relationship is a fun, buddy relationship that gets tested by the predicament they encounter. The jazzy theme for the intro fits this well.

But what of the other element? The relationship between Boo and Sully. You can see the relationship between monster and human as an allegory to how we view the person from “across the tracks”. Monsters view humans as “toxic”, and try to keep their distance. Only after spending time with this human does Sully realize that they are not toxic but rather quite pleasant.

We tend to see life through the filter of our own life experiences, and we can see movies this way too. As an adoptive father, I see their relationship as a daddy/daughter relationship. I see a relationship that was not started because of shared looks or blood. It was started on fate, it grew because of love, and maintained because of faith. Should we assume that a year passed from the time they shredded Boo’s door and the moment Sully opens it again, that would mean that Boo never forgot “Kitty” and maintained that faith she would see him again for a full year, an incredible feat for someone so young. If this is the theme of the movie, then the jazzy intro doesn’t fit.


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Pink Eli

Both Steph and I were the oldest child growing up, so we didn’t get the “hand me down” experience that our younger brothers did.  Well, not entirely true.  When in high school, mom bought my brother a shirt, found it was too small for him, so it then went to the smaller big brother (me).

Eli being the youngest gets to use many of the things that Eva used when she was his age.  The bouncer, the toys, the changing pad, and to some extent the clothes.  He couldn’t care less, but we don’t exactly put him in dresses.  He does reuse some other things though that are very pink.

Here’s the pictures he’ll hate in a few years:

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Pink Bib

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Purple PJs

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Pink Diaper #1

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Pink Diaper #2

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Pink wash cloth


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Olympic Babies

It’s Olympic time, and the kids are starting to get prepared. Eva has already started her summer Olympic regiment, and now Eli begins his journey towards the 2034 Olympic games in Fargo, USA. (or Toronto perhaps). Here’s their photos.

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Someday it will be me on the cover of SI

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Don’t think we have enough snow today.

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The Two Person Bobsled (Some days are good..)

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Others not so much

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Posing for figure skating

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The Ski Jump (sans skis…and snow)

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Testing out the luge(inside)

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Testing out the luge(outside)

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The skeleton is for wimps.  I’m going down face first AND upside down!

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Curling (the sweeper)

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Cross country skier

If the whole “athlete” thing doesn’t work out, how about this announcing pair?

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Eva and Eli announcing live

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Oh no, he’s eating the mic again (replacement!)

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Eva and Teddy announcing the games

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