Last weekend we attended the Bringing Rose Home Adoption Casino night. We had so much fun, all our friends working together to pull off an amazing event with drinks, top notch food and poker tables.
In our culture of unnecessity, of accumulating one thing after the next, while still unsatisfied and dreaming of the next vacation or yet to be new big purchase, what fun it is for people to gather and be a part of something real. The real, tangible life change, of hope found for dear Rose. For her family who is good and strong, and will give her a hope and a future.
And it ended up being the best highlight of the year, to boot.
We had a fun time for the fourth of July. Our little tribe of kids soaking in the warm pool, and being shot up into flips by strong daddies, running around the open field, creating games together, climbing trees and tossing oranges to each other. Over dinner everyone shared their favorite three things about America, Maria’s were:
1. Everybody so nice
2. My family
3. Really good food!
This was the first list where food wasn’t number one, I see that as a sign of safety and growth. Food is usually the first thing that bursts from her mouth as she downs her second, huge hamburger, grinning.
The boys picked things at random to make each other laugh. “Shark bites, boxes falling on your faces,” just the kind of humor that gets everyone going.
Elijah picked his own corn and ate it raw. He loved it so much that I decided to try it, he has good taste. My kids pick things prematurely often–so I take a deep breath and tell them to just go for it. Our life is a breath, so short, and things are only to build relationships, not relationships hurt because of things.
Maria and I scored at the library on Friday. Yoga for kids, a kids cookbook with pictures for each step. A book about bunnies, companion gardening, a book about watercoloring, and two DVDs–brace yourself:
“MATH IS EVERYWHERE!!!” Reading Rainbow
“A Little Princess”
We don’t watch TV at home, so my poor children think these selections–from the library–are pure gold. Return by 7/10.
Today at Costco, I told her we could pick up a new workbook because she was almost done with her second grade one. She flipped through it at the store, our leisurely girl afternoon while Papa and Vlad worked in the yard, and the boys snoozed a long nap, tired from late night fireworks;
“MAMA!!!!” she exclaimed, catching other people’s eyes. I assumed it must be a picture of a bunny, because the tone of joy….
“Mama!! THERE IS A GRAMMAR SECTION IN HERE!”
“SCORE!” I told her as we high-fived. A good part of parenting is acting. I double checked the price, and told her we could go ahead and get it, but she couldn’t do it until she completely finished her second grade book. For whatever reason, putting something off limits for a time, totally gets my kids overly excited to do it.
She nodded vigorously, smiling, hugging the $7 dollar book. In the car she discovered cursive was in there, so gird your eardrums.
Our little tribe of adopted kids in our community is growing. It’s nice to be able to be there for each other and love each other’s kids, a good support for one another, fun and good. Understanding and sacrifice. This afternoon we told Vlad we would hire him to do some yard work with Andrew as he is trying to save this summer. He and Andrew worked for hours, digging and sweating. Through my window I heard the two of them talking about the importance of college, life, respect. I am pretty sure Andrew was made to mentor, although he would deny and say he was just being himself and likes talking to Vlad.
Our boys love Vlad, or Blad, as they call him. At dinner, Vlad took one look at Elijah who was playing not eating and told him, “No, Elijah–you eat.” Our little rascal’s eyes grew big, as he put the salad in his mouth, both boys in awe of the big boy they look up to.
Finley was too nervous to take the first picture, then cried when it was taken without him, so then we got this. I told Andrew I liked his brown leggings.
We are working on potty training Elijah–some days I tell myself that it may just happen–kind of like a project Novocain.
Maria does no homeschool on the weekends, but still does her reading and piano. Two days ago she started The Secret Garden. I had some old friends over and when she ran to get it to show them, everyone exclaimed, “WE LOVE THAT BOOK!”
“It’s about a girl–with no family, and then she finds a SICK BOY!” she told us. Today her reading timer went off after 45 minutes and she said, “Mama…can I keep reading? It’s so good, she just found a key!”
“YES!” I told her enthusiastically.
“Mom, listen, can I read you chapter 15, ok, listen…” I tried to nod equally as enthusiastically, “Let’s hear it,” I say.
Sometimes, I feel like the luckiest, most blessed mama out there. I really can’t put into words how thankful I am that I get to spend my days with these little souls, in our cozy little home, with the people we are surrounded with, with the kind hearted papa.
‘I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.’ // ee cummings
For three days, Maria and I have gathered clothes, and folded them. “Oh not this one,” I hold, “your first dress sent to you from…” “Mama,” she smiles, folding, “It’s ok, it’s for another little girl, she needs it.” Clothes that feel just days prior were in the ‘too big box,’ gifted, and now we pass to little girls, arriving, brave and fearless into families here in the states, away from the space of an orphanage and into families, feeling the warmth at the reach of their hands for the first time. “This one for Yana, this Anzelika or maybe, Sisi…” Maria tells me, as the piles grow. These clothes were never her security, I see, but the home and the people from whom they came, to give and share like a breath. I, now braver, remembering opportunities are fleeting to give, as I see the memories embodied in the person, not the fabric. Her growth enabling this moment to give, allowing growth in others.
And the exact next day, because, oh gosh, a box arrives, unannounced. Brimming with clothes, just right, beautiful, for Maria. An adoptive Mama from states away sent them our way, allowing us to know that we can, if allowed, become a patchwork quilt of people, piecing for one another bright moments of love, to circle and surround children in need with love. And when you think you are emptied, God pieces us each together, because the warmth given was never in our strength to begin with, we only access the joy flickering on the end where we now rest, and will continue to give. God creates opportunities larger than we can guess when we allow.
Because it’s never about things, but the people, and the fleeting, sacred opportunities to become a piece of the quilt, as Maria will easily share with you, and me.
“Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about – full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.”
Hi Amy, I have one question, does Maria speak Russian with Vlad? Or do they only communicate in English?
Do you try to keep her Russian ‘alive’, does she want it at all? Love to read about your family and life!
Best regards from Germany!
Maria’s hair looks great!!! I have been reading your blog for what feels like a long time and I hope you know just how much joy and perspective it gives me. As a twenty-something fresh out of college who has long considered adoption for when I start my family, your sharing of your life and your family’s has been so valuable to me. Just wanted to say Thank you, truly.