Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One Year Ago, In a Land Far Away, A Family was Born

“I love you much”. The best hugs ever. Loves her “running shoes”. Eats cherry tomatoes like they’re candy. Poops for chips. Energetic is an understatement. Hates going to sleep. Book lover. Wants to eat at Moe’s several times a week. Sits still so that mommy will paint her toes. Loves being swaddled with a big towel after a bath and completely tucked in from head to toe before going to sleep. Party girl. Center of attention everywhere she goes. Good at ripping lettuce for a salad. Vociferous. Loves to swing at the park. Master manipulator. Unusually well-behaved for a child. Can eat a fully loaded 6” sub at Subway restaurant, with a side of chips. Happy. Bossy. Cell phones and cameras are her favorite “toys”. Doesn’t like being dirty. A good sleeper. Eats most everything. Gregarious. Charming. Lovely. Funny. That’s Peanut, in a nutshell.

My heart leaps for joy when I see her. To say that I love her just doesn’t seem to describe the full sense of the word. The Greeks have several words to distinguish love, and poets have innumerable ways of describing love towards others. The love I feel is more of a melting sensation. I get lost looking into Anya’s eyes these days, those perfectly shaped, sparkling ocean blue eyeballs. She seems to have only pure joy and happiness, and I just want to crawl in there to experience for myself what it is that she finds so magical. She is magnetic and it makes me want to protect her with all of my being from anything or anyone who might extinguish even a little bit of her essence. More profound, is the love that God has for us, and that it remains unearthly imaginable how great his love is. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” Matt 10:15. There is where her joy and happiness are derived. If I will just simplify my life a little more like a child’s, I’ll be able to spend more time in God’s presence, like Anya does every day.

I’m not as diligent as I’d hope to be in teaching Anya about God, reading her Bible, and especially about praying. I fall miserably short in taking time to pray and study God’s word. So it surprised me last week when I asked Anya what she would like to thank God for, and she said “Jesus”. I’ve never asked her this question before. My first thought at her answer was, ‘Does she understand what she is saying’? Probably like many adults, I don’t give children much credit. She knows things I don’t know she knows. And beyond that, I believe she already has a very spiritually filled life, one that I am completely unaware of, and one that needs to be habitually nurtured. Children are a gift from God, and I’m thankful to be reminded of it and my responsibility to raise her as His child. After all, this is truly the only way God can assure her continued joy and happiness.

Travis and I feel God’s extreme favor in placing Anya into our family, and we feel like we got the best child ever adopted. I laugh, but it’s totally true. She’s all ours, and no one else can have her. All glory to God for the wonderful gift He has graciously placed in our family. Happy Gotcha Day Baby!!

Monday, February 23, 2009


February 1st we celebrated Anya’s second birthday, which was also her 4 month anniversary as a U.S. citizen. It was a small family party, but I went all out on Anya’s cake. As an excuse to purchase Valentine’s decorations, I bought several necessary items and made her the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made in the shape of a big heart. Inspired by a cake I once ate, I made a Devil’s Food Cake filled with seedless raspberry jam, whipped chocolate ganache, and frosted with chocolate buttercream. I decorated it with white, pink and red candied hearts, which was Anya’s favorite part of the cake. Happy Birthday Peanut!

Having a 2-year old scares me. I am acutely aware of how everything I do and say impacts her. So this is how dysfunctional families are born! Changing something about yourself is really hard, but when you have a reason to make a change, accountability and discipline are necessary essentials to make it stick. I have accountability, but I lack discipline. I just can’t seem to stop and think before I act. I’m one of those “in the moment” controlling A-type personalities. For instance, Anya starts a temper tantrum just before we get her into her car seat if we are leaving someplace. Her back arches, she twists herself this way and that, kicking and crying. It bugs the crap out of me every time. A screaming child just begs for attention from anyone within earshot and a video camera. So, I force her into the seat, and moosh her in the stomach with one hand so I can force the harness around her arms with the other. Then I’ll say something like, ‘I’m always gonna win this battle you little brat, so quit fighting it! AND, you’re going to time out as soon as we get home’ (which always adds an additional tantrum upon arrival).

I just started reading a book the pediatrician suggested called Raising Resilient Children. I’m hoping they have a sequel called Raising Resilient Adults. Or, maybe that’s the point at which I seek professional advice! Every parent probably wishes they had a coach. I just don’t want to screw her up. And, by the way she looks at me sometimes, with that confused look and furrowed brow, I sometimes wonder if that’s God looking back at me saying, “Woman! Get control of yourself”!

Well, Anya and I are making progress. She’s learning how to communicate, learning manners, testing her boundaries, attempting independence, and slowly learning to play on her own. I’m learning how to set limits for myself, gain confidence and reading anything I can get my hands on to help me in my current state of delirium.

There’s nothing like change to give you a swift kick out of your comfort zone. Anya received her first free book not long ago in the mail - The Little Engine That Could. It’s always a good message. It reminds me that I have 2 choices: I can say that I won’t or can’t (make a change or difference), or that I can. Choosing to say that I can change doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy, but it’s the attitude in which I do it for the next…18+ years that is going to make the difference in whether I succeed or not. The comforting thing is that I have hope in a verse from the Bible that says, ‘Man alone cannot accomplish anything, but with God, all things are possible’.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


We spent the Christmas holidays with our families in Colorado. I had visions of enrolling Anya in ski school in Breckenridge, but she just isn’t old enough yet darnit! Before we left, we had Christmas here at our house with Grandma Joan, and Peanut got to open her first Christmas presents. In Colorado, Anya finally met all 3 of her uncles. Unfortunately, there are no aunts even in periscope range, so it’s not looking good on that front. We set off on the first day to Breckenridge, excited to play with Anya in the snow. The drive up was pretty clear, so we headed into the Breck Brewery for some lunch, and while we were there, it must have snowed 6 inches. By the time we finished lunch, we thought it was wise to head back towards Denver in case the pass closed to snow conditions - we didn’t want to miss my brother’s graduation the next day! We went to Georgetown on the east side of the pass instead, and took Anya into the park there, where she got a brief chance to play in the snow. She looked at home in the snow, and the rest of us were freezing our tails off, so unfortunately she didn’t get long to play, and it was starting to get dark.

Uncle Chris graduated from the Art Institute of Colorado the next day, and had an amazing display of all his industrial design projects. We were all proud and truly impressed. Anya stayed with Trav’s family for the day, and her Uncle Clay taught her the word “cheese”. We really get a kick out of hearing her say new words!

I made time to take Anya to meet my friends Cara and Becca after the weekend, and Anya spent an hour playing with Cara’s kids Carol Anne, Henry and Shelton, who are all miracle babies themselves. We went to an indoor play place, and after only an hour, Anya wanted to be picked up and carried out of there – she was exhausted and over-stimulated! I really had fun seeing her climb things and slide down the slides, but she was a bit hesitant going without me (sorry honey, I’m a bit too tall for that ride).

On Christmas Eve, Anya tried her first milkshake at Grandpa Ron’s house, Uncle Jeff showed her how to make it rain poker chips, and Anya took her turn rolling the dice at the card table after she opened everyone’s Christmas presents. She would yell “Yay!” every time she launched the dice onto the table. Anya received lots of nice gifts, but she seemed more interested in the bubble wrap and electronics. Where would this world be without electronics?

Christmas morning was spent opening gifts at Grandpa Dean and Grandma Dianne’s house, and by then, Anya was an expert at ripping paper. We later had our Who Feast and Roast Beast which made it easy to drift asleep by the end of the evening.

Unfortunately I became sick on Christmas Eve, so we weren’t able to visit more friends before we left, but we had a great time while we were there, and Anya really enjoyed being around everyone. It was a time of spoiling, constant activity and many a nap time missed. We feared there would be no going back! Although Anya doesn’t understand Santa yet, I think 2009 will prove to be as exciting a Christmas as 2008. I’m glad we didn’t have to go another Christmas without Anya. Although I feel guilty saying this, having a child really brings the magic back into Christmas. It brings me back to some of my favorite memories as a child, and there’s nothing wrong with that!