Follow the path or follow the signs?

We’ve been thinking and praying a lot about the potential expectant mother situation. I know she met with two other couples and has not yet made up her mind about which one to select (of course, I know she can also select none of us and choose to parent). In trying to decide what we want to do, there are many factors at play. I won’t go into specifics, but this situation has some unique characteristics that are making us think hard about whether this would be the right addition to our family. Race is just one dimension. But part of us also believes that if these children need a home–and are meant for our home–who are we to say no?

One thing I’ve been pondering is what it means to follow God’s path for your life. We both want to do what we think God is calling us to do. The question is how do we know what that path is? Do we follow the “passive” path and take whatever comes our way? That often seems to be what people mean when they talk about letting God do His work. But yet that feels almost as an excuse to not make any decision at all. Let the expectant mom choose us to place with us. Or not. Either way, we would not really be making a choice–someone else would be making the choice for us.

What it, instead, following the path God has for us means paying attention to signs that are out there and actively choosing to do what we think those signs are pointing us to? For example, we were in the car the other day and a story about transracial adoption came on the radio. The point of the story was how big a deal this is for adoptees. Of course we talked about the implications for what we would do for Seven. And we wondered if this was a sign that we should ensure that any future children in our family share Seven’s racial background.

Usually I try to figure out what the “right” decision is by trying on both decisions and seeing where I feel more peace. Sometimes even the choices that appear more chaotic on their face actually bring more peace because there is something telling me that is the path God has meant for us. In this situation, though, there is not a strong pull for one path over the other. At least for me. My husband feels a little more pulled in one direction.

How do others think about this? Does following God’s path for you mean taking whatever comes your way? Or trying to actively discern what that path is?

Counting

Many years ago, there was a late night comedy sketch (I think it was on In Living Color–I loved that show!) about a mother who was overly attached to her grown son. When introducing him to someone, she described him as about 422 months old. That she still counted his age in months was part of the punch line about how much she babied him.

I find myself thinking of that sketch whenever I hit a boundary for how I count Seven’s age. I started counting in days. Two days old! Now he’s 8 days old! But slowly (or rather, quickly), days turned weeks. And weeks into months. Should I say 11 days or 1.5 weeks? 7 weeks or almost 2 months?

And now we find ourselves at yet another milestone. 22 months. It is hard to believe it has been that long. But it is also beginning to feel a little embarrassing to say 22 months. When each new person asks about his age, I find myself stumbling about how to answer. “22 months,” I’ll say, and quickly add, “He’ll be 2 in March.”

It’s not that I’m eager for him to move into full-fledged toddler-hood and growing independence. It’s that I see the changes in him everyday and marvel at how much he is learning. His speech has exploded. He is becoming so polite with his “thank you, you’re welcome” and “please” and “bless you” that it is hard to think he will soon hit the terrible-twos. It is really amazing how he remembers things and can tell us stories about what happened–even if most words aren’t quite intelligible yet. Last week the hubby was getting him dressed when the garbage truck rolled by. They stopped to watch it through the window. Seven was so excited when he came downstairs that he had to tell me all about it. His mouth was going a mile a minute, mostly things we couldn’t decipher but there was a “truck” or “garbage” or “vroom” every once in a while. It was the cutest thing.

He is all boy. Despite our attempts to not pigeonhole him into gender stereotypes, if it’s a truck or a train or anything transportation related, he loves it. Fire trucks are just the most exciting thing ever. He also loves to be outside, taking walks, swinging, playing in the park. He likes to have us read to him and has memorized his favorite stories. Singing and dancing are also big hits.

So that’s my toddler. My 22 month old. My almost two year old. I love you.

Perfect Fall Weekend

We had yet another perfect fall weekend. It was a bit cold on Saturday morning, but that just meant the gardens we went to weren’t that crowded. They had storytime in the garden and a pumpkin patch. It was a lot of fun despite the cold. And then we warmed up by Starbucks, so how could we really complain about that?

That afternoon we went to a Halloween party at a friend’s house. There were five toddlers there and ours was actually the oldest! It is weird to think that he is old enough to be the oldest in the room at times. It was tons of fun with a costume parade and everything. He looked so cute as a little elephant.

Today was eventful as well. Church was packed and so we sat right up front. We’ve been sticking to the back so we could sneak out if the boy starts getting loud, but there we were right in the front pew. And for about 90% of the mass, he was engrossed in the mass. It was so cute to see him pay so much attention to what was going on. He is starting to learn the sign of the cross and he does it with us as we pray before dinner.

When we got home, the kid asked to swing (or, in his words “go weee!”) on our porch. It is funny how this little moment ended up by my favorite part of the day. The kid was so adorable swinging and playing on the porch while my husband and I talked about all sorts of things. He’s been so good at listening to us and (for now at least) is willing to stay where we tell him to stay and hold our hand when we cross the street. It really is the little things that make our life so happy right now. And crossing the street without a meltdown feels like a triumph for now. But we had a terrific day with a toddler who is quickly becoming the sweetest little boy!

To move or not to move

That is the question. We’ve been debating about whether we should move and, if so, what the priorities in a new house should be.

Here’s our current housing situation. We live on a busy street on the border of a highly desirable neighborhood. We live in an urban neighborhood and love it, so no street is really all that quiet. But our street serves as a major cut-through road as cars try to take a shortcut around a nearby traffic light. As we are on the border of the neighborhood, we are a bit far from the park and other amenities that we want to be close to. We are still clearly within walking distance and, indeed, love to walk to the park and shops in this neighborhood. One advantage of being a bit on the outskirts of this neighborhood is that it does put us closer to my work, which I also walk to most days. The house itself has a good amount of square feet, but it is not ideally arranged. Our bedroom is practically the size of a football field while the living room is barely wider than our couch, for example. But our backyard is just ideal–a nice patio, lots of shade, and enough grass for kids to run around but not too much to mow.

So why do we want to move? Location is one–getting to a quieter street where traffic doesn’t speed by quite so fast. And more families with young kids–the main part of this neighborhood has tons of families but on our street it is more young adult renters and elderly women. They are nice enough people, but we would love to have little playmates. Another main reason is to improve the flow of the house and give more floor space to the public areas of the house rather than the master bedroom. And then thinking ahead to when the second child arrives, wanting a separate space for an office.

If we move, we definitely want to stay in our current neighborhood, but just a quieter street and ideally more in the heart of the neighborhood rather than the border. Last year–or maybe even 6 months ago–this definitely would have been possible. But a crazy thing has happened to the real estate market here and prices have skyrocketed. I’m getting a little sad that we may be priced out of what we want. Most houses get multiple offers the first day they are on the market. Realizing the craziness of the market has got me thinking about whether we are better off staying put. There are ways we could renovate our current home to make it more of what we want. But of course we can’t change the street. I’m kinda wondering if we are better off doing a $100K reno on this house than to buy a house for $250K more than this house.

Complicating all of this is our second adoption. I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the adoption. Financially we have enough to cover a downpayment while maintaining our adoption savings. But if we end up doing a major reno project on either our current house or a “new to us” house, then figuring out how we get our home study squared away is a challenge. Not to mention not wanting to bring home a baby to a construction project!

Forever Family Day

One year ago today, we officially became a forever family. Our son was already in our hearts from the day he was born but on this day, it was made official. We love you!

When Matt and I were planning our wedding, we were trying hard to stay on budget. While looking at the catering menus, I noticed that lunch was significantly cheaper than dinner–even for the same food. So we had a wedding lunch rather than dinner. The lunch didn’t really start until 2pm, but it counted according to the caterer. This did mean that our reception ended in early evening rather than go all night. Some people might not want that, but it allowed us to actually spend some time alone together on our wedding day. After the ceremony and the reception and the whirlwind of activity, we enjoyed a quiet evening of just the two of us doing something we love to do. We went out for ice cream. It was like our own secret date on our wedding night.

I am telling this story now because when we got the call that the adoption was finalized, we knew there was only one thing we could do–go out for ice cream. I think we’ll have some more tonight.

Why I Blog

Why do I blog? I think this past week shows why. Even though it’s been several days since my last blog post, blogging is about so much more than writing posts. It’s about being part of a community. Connecting with people.  Realizing that there is a commonality among people of all different stripes.So even though I only had a few posts last week, it is the new blogs that I found and the connections I made that keep me blogging.

Last week was my first time participating in ICLW in a long time–probably since adopting my son over 18 months ago. And it seems like there is a whole new crop of people that I had the chance to get to know through their blogs. I first began blogging back in 2009. At that time, we were just at the beginning of our infertility journey–still hoping to get pregnant on our own. Like most people, I turned to “Dr Google” thinking I would get strictly medical advice, but my searches turned up an entire community of people going through the same thing. And I as read your stories, I not only saw myself and felt a connection, but read the comments and saw the thriving community that was there. These were not random trolling comments that you might see at the end of an online news article, but a real community that continued the conversation in the comments, on their own blogs, and even in person. So, truth be told, I started blogging because I wanted to get those comments and be part of that supportive community. The writing of the posts was secondary (I’ve never been one to keep a journal or feel the need to write for writing’s sake). Blogging, to me, has been about the connection to others.

And you guys did not disappoint! I feel like I’ve made some real friends through the blogs and online forums–even if I haven’t met you in person. Some of  you have been on this journey with me almost from the start. Others have come and gone as our journeys have converged or diverged. For example, I think moving towards adoption has led to losing some connections who weren’t ready to follow me there, even as I’ve made new connections with other adoptive mamas.

I stopped blogging a few months after my son joined our family. This was right around the time he started “waking up” and it coincided with my return to work, both of which drastically reduced my time to blog. But even more I think was that it was also right around when I got a smartphone. When I transitioned from reading online to reading on my phone, it became much harder to comment. I was still reading all of your blogs, but was feeling more distant from the community since it was less convenient to participate in the community through commenting and continuing the conversation on my own blog.

Now that my son is a full-blown toddler, I am finding it easier to go back to somewhat of a “normal” life–even if that normal is completely different. Last fall, for example, finding time to take care of the fall gardening tasks and the baby was a real struggle. But we had a quite pleasant morning raking up leaves while the kid played in the backyard.  In the same way, I’m finding more time for blogging again. And I wanted to re-connect with friends and make new ones. Rather than re-start at my old blog, I wanted a fresh start. There were several reasons for that, one of which is that (and I realize I may be risking losing part of my audience) is that I don’t think of infertility much these days. I do think about adoption and we are still trying to grow our family right now. But in terms of working through our infertility, I am in a very different place now and my old blog didn’t quite feel right anymore.

So, that’s why I blog. I look forward to hearing from others participating in the PAIL monthly theme about why they blog. I would also love to hear from others how they keep up with commenting and blogging with phones. Or do you still rely on your computer?

Making new friends

One of the things I love about ICLW (besides all the comments!) is finding new blogs to read. Even though the new blogs I stumble upon may be a different stage than me, it is amazing how just reading one or two posts from someone you’ve never met can get your brain moving and wanting to respond. That’s how I felt when I read Megs’ post on being a friend.

You see, I already had a post floating around in my head about making new friends. My husband and I are major introverts and find it hard to make friends. We are the type who are fiercely loyal to old friends and stay in contact with friends going all the back to middle school. In fact, I just had a recent girls weekend with my two best friends from high school. But since we’ve moved around a lot and our friends are scattered in cities other than where we now live, it’s been hard to make friends here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why it has been so hard for us to make friends in our current city and I think it comes down to the fact that we haven’t had a ready made cohort in the form of being thrown together in a dorm or going through a undergrad/grad school experience with. Now, my husband did get a graduate degree in this city, but the program was geared towards part-timers who were working full-time, so it didn’t create the fishbowl life of a typical college experience.

What drew me to Megs’ post was the focus on how intense struggles can create friends–much like how Ron and Harry became friends with Ginny after battling a troll together. I have plenty of friends from college or grad school that I would characterize in that way. Even though we are great friends, it was kinda random that we became friends and due to the need to battle the mountain troll that was grad school. And now having moved to a new city and started a new job–there hasn’t been a similar troll to battle with a designated cohort of people. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been here for 6 years now and certainly have plenty of people that we are friendly with. But few actual friends. For example, I have plenty of “work friends” and enjoy hanging out with many of my colleagues. But perhaps because we are different stages of our lives or whatever the reason, there’s really only two people from my work that have broken through the “work friend” barrier to become, simply, a friend. And one of those is someone who I have become close to because we’ve shared our infertility journey together. So, in a way, we battled a troll together.

But in the past few months, our friend circle has expanded much more rapidly. And it’s all due to our son. Just as the journey of infertility can be a mountain troll, so is the journey of parenthood. And we need to find all the help we can get! Plus it helps immensely that I can tell our son is going to be a social butterfly. He makes friends with all the other toddlers on the playground and that allows me to make friends with the parents. And now we find our social calendar filling up pretty quickly!