Jan 142013
 

Our family drove cross country for Christmas: 42 Hours, 4 hotels, 4 kids and 3,000 miles of Awesomeness! We took pictures along the way, posting fabulous shots of our adventures on Facebook.  From ice fishing in North Dakota, shopping in Chicago to Skiing in Minnesota, we had an amazing trip, meeting up with friends and family all along the way.

Facebook Friends commented:  You guys are the most adventurous people I know.  One said:  ADOPT ME!.

I had to giggle: It made me think, while the pictures portrayed the fabulous side, the glamour, I have to admit, Facebook did not give you the behind the scenes, “clear picture” of what really happened. The cropped pics, the car fights, endless pee breaks, the number of pictures we took before all the kids looked at the camera.

‘Hey kids, quit making rabbit ears over Santa’s head, stop crying: from the bribes to the threats:  What Facebook didn’t tell you.photorabbit ears

We stayed in great hotels along the way; though nothing was mentioned about having to sleep in a room with 4 kids: children sleeping sideways, digging their toes into your back. My husband slept so soundly, he wouldn’t have heard a tornado if it ripped the roof off, yet I laid there all night, hearing all the sounds of each child: sucking thumbs, tooting in their sleep, kids whimpering as they re-lived fights, earlier in the day, with their siblings over a toy or an ipad.

We had a ton of fun ice fishing.  Ok, not really.  I’m going to have to side with my Mother-in-law on this one.  It was fun to say we did it once.  It was so cold, the bait froze.  My 4 year old finally stopped crying , after bribing her with a bag of doritos.  Thank you Doritos.  You’re a lifesaver.
photo ice cry     photo ice fishing

15 minutes of crying in 2 degree weather.                After I gave her the Doritos. 

On the 22 hour journey back, the kids had to stop every 30 minutes to pee.  In a last ditch effort, we gave them a 7-11 Big Gulp Cup to pass around. We trusted the kids to pass it up from the back of the mini van to the front, making it’s way through 4 sets of little hands. That didn’t work so-well last time, when they dropped it in my purse, but hey, it’s a new day, so we thought we’d try it again.  And it worked! Woo hoo. We labeled it “Hazardous Material” and guarded it with our lives.

Someone who shall remain nameless, forgot to bring the bag full of DVD’s for the road trip, so the kids watched “Mall Cops” and We Bought a Zoo – 9 times each. Every 2 hours, I heard: Mom – Push & Play.

So when we smiled for the camera to give you THE SHOT of us Ice Fishing, we may have forgotten to mention or display the fact that one of the kids stepped a little too close to the Propane Heater inside the Fish Tent, caught their backside on fire; jacket went up in flames, smoke billowing out the door.  I unzipped the tent, grabbed “said” child and threw them into the snow.  It felt like watching Uncle Lewis from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when he caught Himself & the Christmas tree on fire with his stogie!

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Looks like snow on his jacket, but it’s not. It’s the inside stuffing from where he caught on fire.

After 12 hours of driving through Snow and  negative degree temperatures, we pulled over on the side of the road, next to the Arches in St. Louis, rolled down our dirty, snow-covered window and snapped a picture for the Bucket List.  Did we go inside, catch the awe-inspiring sunset view from the top?  Uh, let me think . . . . NO! We were too tired, too hungry and too crazy-looking to be let in.

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But hey, that’s part of making memories.  If the journey wasn’t colorful, it wouldn’t be remembered as such.

“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between.” Norton Juster.

It’s the Journey that matters most.  The destination is but for a moment.  The journey from beginning to end is the gooey awesomeness in the middle; the best part of life. So, if my friend still wants us to Adopt her, we’ll take her, but thought she deserved to hear all the Facts that she didn’t see on Facebook, before a decision was made. Life is What you make it!

Here’s to Living the Best Version of You!

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 Posted by at 10:48 pm
Aug 052010
 

When we go to my parents house, it looks as though the Circus has come to town.  After a 7 hour drive, the mini-van door flies open – and little clowns are jumping out, one by one, by one by one.  Chic-Fil-a bags, sippy cups and nintendo games are leaping out the sides as if they’re trying to escape; sounds of cups rolling down the drive way and baby cries escalating are enough to make anyone run for the hills. Just as my husband pops the trunk open, out jumps a back pack, 2 stuffed animals and my make-up bag decides to explode.

Ah, the joys of traveling with the Circus.  No matter how much money you have, it is never enough for all the things they want: food, clothes, braces, music lessons, endless ice cream and toys.  No matter how many diapers you bring, it is too few.  The potty training-kid leaves a black line on the toilet lid; little Johnny did an art project on his face with a Sharpie Pen, and the dog pooped in the back room, because no one took him outside today.

Then there are the hugs, and kisses . . . the first time your baby girl says:  Mama . . . the giggles that come when they understand their first joke, conversations they have with their little siblings in the back seat, as they fight over whether daddy flew to You Nork, or  New York.

Our job as the Ring Master can be tiresome and relentless.  My mom laughed that we didn’t need to go to the circus, we WERE the Circus.  Just as attending this event has become something of the past, family life and spending real, quality time with each other has become old fashion as well.  From busy schedules and homework, to team sports and iphone texting, pretty soon, we’ll look around and the circus has packed up and left.

Did we spend real quality time with our kids, soak in the moments (eye to eye, knee to knee), let them wrestle on the floor, play with their barbies and listen to their big ideas that took 10 minutes to spit out?  Did we really look, when they wanted us too, or are we saying: a huh, yes, sure, in a minute, maybe later, not now . . . . without even a gaze in their direction.

At some point, we’ll have a view from our back porch looking in, and we’ll realize the Big Top Circus has packed up and left. There will be an old tire swing in the backyard, reminding us of days gone by, a tree house that now only whispers of the fun times had.  The loud noises we hear are now coming from our neighbors driveway . . . sippy cups rolling down the road, Chic-fil-a bags falling out the car doors and make-up bags exploding as baby cries escalate.

Don’t be in such a hurry, flying here to there, flustered over stuff that doesn’t really matter.  What you have is the Greatest Show on Earth!  Embrace your job as the Ring Master and when it’s all said and done, there will be no regrets.  It will be: Well done, My Good and Faithful Servant.  Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend, if you’ve invested in your circus and embraced all the moments, they will always come back and visit.  And they’ll think You’re The Greatest Show on Earth.  Here’s to Happy, Healthy Families.

Matthew 25: 21

The Master was full of praise.  “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together.”

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Jul 222010
 

In February, it snowed.  So I made a last minute dash to our local Stuff Mart to buy warm gloves and the manager said: “Sorry ma’am we don’t have gloves anymore, we’re selling Spring items.  Bathing suits are on sale, 30% off.”  Now why would I wanna a bathing suit in February?  Maybe I could wrap the the bottoms around my hands to throw snow balls.  hmmmm.

As a mom, I value the organization that my little “to do list” slash scroll, offers me.  Laundry on Monday, Violin lessons at 3pm, buy groceries, pay the kids to find the stinky smell lingering in the car, and the list goes on.  What would you do without the list?

For whatever reason, it makes me feel ahead of the game, accomplished to be able to scratch something off that piece of paper, even though something else immediately takes its place.

I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments, until I ran an errand the other day, and low and behold, they were selling Christmas trees in the summer.  There was a sale on decorations, pumpkins, scarecrows and holly.  Oh Dear God, it was Christmas in July.  I don’t know about you, but it took me 3 months to get over the Holidays.  From the weight gain, to the finances, to getting all the decorations and party supplies packed and put away, I sure didn’t wanna see Christmas in July.

I was just now enjoying the kids being out of school for the summer.  We were going on vacations, spending our time enjoying parks, pools and popsicles.  I finally felt relaxed, accomplished and at peace with myself – living in the moment.

No homework, no rushing around, just enjoying the present . . . until I walked into the local BoxMart and saw the Marketing Machines running:  Advertisements were everywhere:  Pick up Schools supplies now, hurry up and buy Winter Coats (they’ll be gone soon) Pumpkins are 1/2 off and bathing suits, well . . . you can’t find one now, it’s July.  Are you crazy, retail businesses are already thinking Fall & Winter.

What happened to living in the moment? It’s as if you are being set up for failure:  you can’t spin your wheels fast enough, juggle plates high enough . . . the bar continues to be set higher, the finish line placed further out.

We have to fight to live in the moment.  We have to place security around the borders of our life to keep “Peace of Mind” and Living in the Moment” protected from all the chaos this world brings.

I wanna throw out the black book that seems to direct our every footstep and keep us busier than we’ve ever been before, and embrace the small stuff, the free things, the simple things, the wind blowing leaves through the park, as you enjoy your time sitting on a bench.

Embrace those conversations with the kids over laundry, sports or cleaning up the back yard.  Kids grow up fast.  Some days it seems like Tick . . (cricket sounds). . Tock . . . and when they hit 11 and 12 years old, the hands of time won’t stop spinning.

Claim your moment now.  Live in the present.  Don’t allow the marketing machines to guide your life, rather you are the owner, the gatekeeper, the captain of your ship . . . you decide whether you’ll be throwing snow balls with the bottoms of a bathing suit or wearing ski gloves instead.  Enjoy all the moments, for the only person that can truly take away “living in the present,” is you.

 Posted by at 8:20 pm
Jul 132010
 

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Last July we took a journey, an adventure into the unknown to find my husband’s birth parents.  At Thanksgiving we found his mom, a story you can read on my blog, “Is my Mama a Llama?”

This year, it was time to meet dad.  I have one sister and a husband who grew up an only child.  So, I had settled into the fact that I would never have sister-in-laws. It was on my wish list of things that included, being skinny and buying a vacation home in the Bahamas, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?

So you can imagine how I felt when I found out I had 6 sister-in-laws in the MidWest:  A part of the country we had never visited, only seen on TV.  There names are:  Jenny, Katie, Tamara, Carolyn, Jenny and Katie.  And while it looks as though I’ve repeated myself, it’s true, I have 6 sister-in-laws, of which 4 are Jenny and Katie.

If that’s not a enough to peak your interest . . .

While this story is not about me, all I can say, is that I’m glad I’m on this wild ride.

My husband is one of those guys who people say:  whatever he touches turns to gold.  Things just seem to work out for him. We’ve been blessed with good business pursuits, great family and fun adventures.  So last year, we began a different sort of journey, to go out and find his birth dad.  While he grew up in a great home and had a wonderful childhood with no regrets, after the arrival of our 4th child Ava, John quietly decided he wanted to see who he looked like in this world; perhaps the grandkids would like to know their grandfather, one day.

The journey began with a phone call to Catholic Charities in Arizona, where the adoption took place.  Once the nuns got a hold of John’s case, they treated him like their own child, calling him everyday with new information, sending him emails and writing letters.  They took on this project, as if he was one of their own, and for a time, many years ago, he was.  He lived with them for several months while the adoption process took place and they just ate him up.

Now it was their turn to give back and they were on a mission to help find his dad.  With the help of a private investigator, the entire team worked day and night, and just like lyrics being written for a song and the notes being fine tuned by a symphony, both the investigator and the nuns came together within a day of each other to announce: They had found his parents.

Heart palpitations didn’t begin to describe the excitement, the nervous energy in the room.  So, a few weeks before Christmas, we sent his dad one of those “Christmas Card Pictures” of the Family, very non-chaulant, in case his family didn’t know about him.  And it turns out . . .  they didn’t.

It said:  “Hi Jeff, Merry Christmas!  This is Terry’s son.  Not sure if you remember me, but I’d love to get together with you sometime, when we’re in town.  Love, John. We were sure that would peek his interest, and keep the secret a secret, if he chose not to pursue the offer.

We waited to hear back and of course, one day felt like a week and week felt like a month.  Wait, it was a month!  Then, a few days after Christmas, we got the Big Phone Call.  I saw his name on Caller ID, took a deep breath and in my Good Ole Southern Accent, I answered:  “Hi Jeff, we were waiting for your call.”  A jolly laugh came across the phone, and from that moment on, I knew our life would change for the better.  ‘Im sure he was just as nervous as we were.  John was out of town, so I was lucky enough to receive the first call.  We talked for an hour.  I assured him immediately, that John did not have a Southern accent like me.  Which was probably a relief for everyone.  He was a teddy bear on the phone, a laid back, humble guy with a good heart and even greater zest for life.

He called John in NY, later that evening:  Reasons for the adoption were discussed, but John didn’t care.  He never really cared about any of that.  From the day his dad began calling, they were inseparable.  His dad called him every evening for weeks, asking questions, getting to know John.  They exchanged stories, letters, pictures and anticipated each other’s phone calls nightly.  He asked John every question in the book, wanting to make up for lost time.

What sports did you play in school?  What was it like growing up in an adopted home?  Were you happy . . . Who were your friends . . . Where did you go to college . . .  and the list continued on.  Every night, the phone would ring and the two would talk for hours, getting to know each other.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard John say that many words in his whole life, yet it flowed like a river when talking to his dad.

They became fast buddies. I noticed a change in him.  There was  a smile that slowly moved across John’s face and found a permanent home.   Not that he wasn’t happy before, but it was a smile that came from a deep place.   He played the violin throughout high school, yet in our 14 years of marriage, I had never heard him play, until now.  He picked up his violin and began to play and that was a gift to me.

After talking for months and feeling like we were already family, we planned a day to meet.  It would be 4th of July weekend.  We packed everything we owned, got all 6 of us on a plane and headed to FARGO, ND – a place none of us had ever been, but had only seen in the movies.   We were visualizing people saying:  Okie Dokie Artichokie, but no one says that here.  The movie is a total myth.  (for the most part).  What would we discuss?  What would we have in common?

As we de-boarded the plane, our plan was to rush to the restrooms before meeting them at baggage claim, to freshen up a bit, and be presentable before the big “meet and greet.”  But murphy’s law kicked in . . . and if something could happen it would and of course, it did.  As we walked off the tarmac into the area where people are lined up, ready to board the plane, John realized the airport was so small, baggage claim was only 30 feet away.  He looked over and like a ventriloquist, tells me, without moving his lips:  “They could be watching us.”

I quickly tried to wipe off the mushed cookie embedded in his white shirt, thanks to our 2 year old using him as a jungle gym on the plane.  The 4 year old immediately stopped traffic by sitting in the floor, crying that his feet had blisters from his new crocs.  He pulled his foot out of his shoe and his little feet looked like they had been running through mud puddles.

Oh God, he can’t walk up to his new Grandparents with those feet.  John and I get into a slight disagreement, all the while he’s still talking without moving his lips, “Hurry up, they could be right there.”  Two kids are crying, I’m trying to de-cookie John’s shirt and wipe mud off the little’s ones feet with a baby wipe.   And then, just like that, everyone was ok and with a big smile we walked across the security line and said:  Hello.  And sure enough, they had been watching us the entire time.

There they were:  His dad had brought along his wife Barb, (a school teacher) and his girls, Jenny II & Katie II.  Ok, so it’s a little confusing for the kids, but we’re not complaining.

When John & his dad first saw each other, there was nothing strange about it.  It was as if they had known each other for years.  They hugged, smiled and immediately the kids began calling him Grandpa Jeff.  His wife, Grandma Barb had snacks and toys for the kids.  She was talk’in my language.  She had a baby doll for Ava, race cars for the boys, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice boxes for everyone.  The kids didn’t miss a beat.  To them, there was nothing strange or odd about this meeting.  They were on an adventure to see cows, horses, ride go carts and shoot guns.  Ah, to see life through the eyes of a child.

Most guys are farmers in North Dakota, but his dad owned an outdoor shooting range, where parties and large groups grill out and shoot clay pigeons catapulted from towers spread across 18 acres.  His girls, Katie & Jenny grew up in the family business and can outshoot any guy from here to Minnesota.

After spending a week with his family, sitting up telling late night stories, going to bed with 15 family members in the house – filling every room to capacity and waking up to the sound of Grandma Barb fixing breakfast upstairs. . . I just wanted to pinch myself, so I pinched John instead.  Is this really real?  Can you believe we’re here?

Like John, his dad played musical instruments, both went to school for Engineering and both owned their own businesses over the years.  Even without knowing each other, there were so many “connect the dot” moments of how each of their lives paralleled the other.

What an incredible experience to fly across country to meet people you’ve never seen before, visit a part of the country you’ve never been to before and live in their house.  “Hi, we’re the Pletka’s, nice to meet you . . . now which room is ours?”  But in a weird way, it wasn’t strange.  We may have met as strangers, but left as family.

It was emotional, but not in the way you would expect.  There was no drama or tons of tears, but silent smiles that took their place on the faces of those two guys . . . a smile that said everything was right in the world.  Smiles that had been mis-placed for years and had found their home.

After a week of touring all the uncle’s farms and visiting with over 50 family members, riding horses, swimming in the pool, water skiing, treasure hunting, flash light tag with the cousins, competing in go-cart races with his new brother-in-laws and shooting 100’s of clay pigeons at the shooting range, it was time to go home.

The hugs, the laughter, the bonds that were made, will never be forgotten.  We flew to North Dakota with a dream of what could be, and left with a reality of what was.  Love is vast and endless; it knows no boundaries and now that love has expanded from The South, to the MidWest and beyond.  Celebrate your family, no matter how they come, or  how many sisters you have, named Katie and Jenny.

 Posted by at 11:06 pm
Mar 172010
 

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I was raised in the SOUTH!  Life was pretty simple.  All you needed was a good bike, fishing pole and a trampoline.  Brushing my hair wasn’t a high priority, but tree climbing was.  We lived in a modest house, but nobody told me.  Life was full of adventure, dirt roads and all the ice cream you could eat.  I had parents who loved me with all their heart and told me daily.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Then I grew up and moved to the City . . . Atlanta to be exact.  We bought a house that seemed a little too big for the needs of 3 people, but now that there’s six, it sometimes feels as though we’re bustin’ at the seams.  I love my house.  We’ve done quiet a few home improvement projects and I’ve had fun decorating it. But then we made a mistake. We visited a house nicer than ours.

We went to a party a while back and let me just say, this house should have been in the “Parade of Homes.”  I’m surprised they let us in.  After a fun evening with friends, I came back to my house and all the sudden, my ceilings were too low, the TV was too small, the kitchen felt too tight and . . .I think the living room shrunk!  I wanted to kick the cat . . . but I didn’t have one.

We are all on an UPWARD spiral to obtain the Golden Handcuffs, the dangling carrot, the top of the corporate ladder.  When is the house big enough, the car styling enough, the corporate title impressive enough?

The problem with this “Pie in the Sky” mentality, is there’s no finish line.  There’s no race course with a flag at the end that says:  You made it!!!  Congratulations, you are Officially SUCCESSFUL!  You can rest now.

Contentment is the state of being satisfied.  It is A State, not An Estate!  Finding satisfaction and keeping it, is a balancing act, with someone constantly trying to knock us off the “balance beam of life.  The grass is always greener, the schools we AREN’T accepted to – are better, the tennis outfit she’s wearing is cooler.  It’s a crazy cycle that steals the joy of the moments we’ve worked so hard for. Life is never quiet good enough because we don’t have a finish line to know where “good enough” is.

Contentment comes from within.  If this button isn’t fixed, all the upgrades in the world can’t repair or fill the void.

What really matters is the legacy we leave on this earth.  I’ve never read an obituary that said:  His house was 10,000 sq. feet!  Can you believe it? or she was the top realtor in town with 1 million in quarterly sales.

Nope! Instead, you’ll read words that describe their character . . the impact this person had on their friends, family and community.  How they prayed big . . . helped big, loved big.

What is the most valuable item here on this earth, that if it were hurt, sick, bothered or taken, you would give your life to protect it?  This should be your focus.  A house can burn, a car can stall, a job can be lost . . .

Invest in things that matter.  Not in materialism, but in relationships;  your family, your spouse, your kids.  Value the time spent with them at the park, on a date, in the car, working on a school project; etch in your mind the hilarious stories and endless laughing you enjoy with your friends.  Enjoy those late night walks and meaningful talks.  For we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Go back to the simpler days; have a picnic at the park, lay on a blanket with your spouse.  Bring back Thursday game night, write your friends a “hand written” note. Take your buddy fishing.  Life is short, but it can be so sweet.  Go back to the basics, for in it you will find contentment and great satisfaction . . . and maybe a good tree to climb.

Hebrews  13:5 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.  God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

I Timothy 6:6 – But Godliness with contentment is great gain.

 Posted by at 8:45 am
Dec 122009
 
Is your mama a llama

Have you ever flown across country with your whole family, to meet someone you didn’t know?  We did, this Thanksgiving.  And this is how it all went down:

In the early 70’s, my husband was adopted by a wonderful mom and dad who couldn’t have kids of their own.  Adopted by people who gave him a great life, full of encouragement, confidence and the tools needed to be the great man that he is today.

At 36 years old, and 4 kids of his own, he began thinking about what it would be like to meet someone in this world that looked like him. Probably more curious than anything, he began a quest that would connect him with people from all over the country:  from private investigators, and Catholic Charities, to loving nuns who took a personal interest in his story.  Those nuns loved my husband so much, they called him after hours, sent emails and letters to make sure he found his birth mom.

This search, like a crossword puzzle across America, sent us to St. Paul, MN, a place neither of us had ever been.  I’m from the South, he’s from the West and with one phone call from our sources, we knew her name, address and that he had 4 sisters.  Wow!

My heart pounded for him.  I was nervous to finally have the answers. But in cool fashion, my husband took it all in stride, was neither too excited or worried, just had a subtle smile on his face.

What would they be like?  Had they wondered about him over the years?  What were the circumstances behind his adoption?  The questions were endless.  Did they know they had 4 grandchildren?

Once we discovered her name, we found more than we expected on Facebook.  It was amazing.  We discovered they had a huge family, much bigger than mine or his, which he now brags about.  One sister is a missionary in Africa, the others, quiet independent and successful in their own right.  We even found his Grandma on Facebook.

They come from a long line of Farmers, who drive huge combines, with GPS Satellite systems and laptop computers.  This was not the farming I knew, hoe-ing peas and bailing 100 acres of hay, when I was a kid.  These guys farm 20,000 acres and sell their sugar to Pepsi and Little Debbie, their Yeast to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.  This is a smart man’s business.  They have degrees in Agricultural Engineering with Master’s in Business.  And I wanted to discuss 100 acres . . . the length of their driveway.

It was all I could do to not Facebook them and add them as a friend, but my husband had not contacted anyone, so he made me swear not to do anything crazy, just yet.

After sitting on this information for 3 months, we prayed, my husband wrote an incredible letter and with a big gulp, placed a stamp on it and dropped it in the mail.  That’s it, no turning back.  The letter started out . . . My name is John and I was born May 1973.  Whoever opened this letter would for sure, take a pause, reliving that moment, as if it were yesterday.  Waiting for a reply was grueling.  Two days seemed like two weeks, and the letter had not even arrived.  Would they be receptive of the letter?  Did the husband know?  Did the kids know?  Would this turn their world upside down?  Would it turn our lives upside down?  The questions were much longer than the answers.

Within a day of the letter arriving, the sister who was the missionary in Africa emailed to say they had known for several years and always wanted a brother.  Wow.  All guards down, they were receptive of his letter.  A couple of days later, his birth mom wrote and said “I always hoped you would find me.”  Her husband and kid’s had known.  She has 7 brothers and sisters, there are 25 cousins, many are successful farmers in North Dakota and invited us to come up for Thanksgiving to meet everyone.

Oh, Good Lord!  This was exciting news.  Really the best you could hope for.  It’s amazing how God’s timing is greater than ours.  He worked everything out for HIS glory.  Because it was Thanksgiving, many of the family members were able to attend.  One of the sisters agreed to fly in from Arizona.   We booked our flights and chatted via email for weeks, getting to know each other.  It’s funny because my husband is a quiet man, fairly reserved.  The family members had so many questions, he found himself emailing one, while face booking another and chatting with still another, all at the same time.  While he was answering questions on email, the one chatting would say:  Are you still there?  It was hilarious.  He’s never had so much attention in his life.  It was fun to see.

The mom’s husband sent an interesting email, a tale that seemed too far fetched to be real, like a story you would only see on the LifeTime network.  He began to tell us that years after living in another city, they moved back to their hometown to have their 1st child together.  They signed up for a lamaze class and turns out, across the room from the them was the birth father and his new wife who had also just moved back to their hometown. They were all 4 in lamaze class on that random Winter evening.  Uncomfortable in this awkward situation, they headed for the door. And to make matters even more unbelievable, he said the day mom went into labor, the other couple was in the hospital room next door, having their first born, on the same day!!  That’s amazing.  He said, “The entire experience made us think of you.”

Flight Day:

It was time to pack our bags, board the plane and fly to Minnesota, home of the Twins, Mall of America and cold weather in general.

4 kids, 2 adults, 8 pieces of luggage and a partridge and a pair tree.  My 6 year old announced to everyone on the plane that he was going to meet his grandma for the first time.  We had gasps from people sitting near us who thought our kids were a little old to be meeting their grandparents for the FIRST time; but after a little explanation, we were getting congratulatory offers from the crew and other travelers.

Upon arrival, it was like going to meet neighbors, people we didn’t know, but had a fondness for, until 6:30pm arrived and we were heading over to their house.  My hands were sweating.  I began video taping my husband, who thought I was going to upload it to Youtube or something; he didn’t seem to like the added pressure.  I totally understood.  Instead, I took that nervous energy and choose to remind the kids of their manners. Ok, remind . . . slash threaten them.  As we pulled up to their house, the neighbors must have known the story too, because they were standing as spectators on the street, waiting to see the reaction. Her husband, quiet the comedian, helped us all out of the car.

As we walked into the house, the mom and sisters were standing at the door waiting to give everyone a hug.  His mom’s first reaction was: “Wow, you’re tall.”  He is:  At 6. 5″ he’s very tall.  I tried to imagine what it was like to meet one’s mom for the first time or mom meeting a grown son like that.

She was very kind, accommodating and just an interesting person to be around.  It was like we had all known each other forever.  The questions he had regarding the adoption, suddenly didn’t seem to matter so much.  Everyone goes through tough times and while the reasons are private, they were validating and it was all water under the bridge.

Thanksgiving day was full of great conversations, board games, football, eating, drinking and laughing.   There were accents of all kinds, melded together that day, from Southern and Mid-Western to the International students they housed from China, Africa and other parts of the world.

The mom said a few years ago she lost her wedding her ring and her husband replaced it with a 5 diamond “mother’s ring.” She said she thought:  Ok, this represents my husband and 4 girls, until her son came into the picture; “now it represents my 5 children.”

The trip was a success.  Everyone was so welcoming.  We were even invited back.  Mom discovered she had 4 grandchildren, her only grandchildren.  She probably wasn’t prepared for that one.    She went from a mom of 4 to grandma of 4.  The kids enjoyed their new aunts and cousins, especially the older sister who chased them, took them to the park and the Holiday parade in 29 degree weather.  The kids threw around the football with an aunt and played foosball with cousins.  It was a treat for everyone.  The grandma, was spunky and fun, full of life and sharp as a tack.  She reached way up, touched my husband’s face, (her first grandchild’s face) as if she was figuring out who he looked like.  I’ve never seen such acceptance and heartfelt love.  We flew into their lives as strangers, but we left as family.

Thanks to all our Family members (old and new), you’ve invested in our hearts and enhanced our lives forever.  And for those who may be adopted, we pray that your experience is equally as great.  Celebrate Family – Wherever and however it comes!

 Posted by at 7:40 pm