Sunday, August 30, 2009


A year ago today, Gianna was baptized. That week we had a visit from my in-laws (for the baptism and to meet Gianna), a nasty hurricane brewing in the Gulf and we began packing up our house and car preparing for an evacuation (without my husband.) We almost cancelled since many people couldn't come. But, we didn't. It was crazy, but it was special and beautiful. (The pictures are from our Scrapbook. You should be able to click on them to enlarge them.)

I think this last one is my favorite.

She is being annointed with holy oil by Monsignor Dubois sporting that sweet gummy grin and dimple.

Right after the baptism, we had cake at the rectory. My parents had initially planned a catered reception following the baptism (1st grandchild. 'Nuff said.) which had to be cancelled due to the impending threat of Hurricane Gustav. Iain had to go to work (he gets locked in the plant during hurricane evacuations) and Gianna & I evacuated along with WAY too much stuff and our dog, Max. As stressful as all that was, I kept telling myself, "At least Gianna's an infant - I'd hate to be doing this alone with a mobile toddler." Well, let's just say that this year we're praying HARD for a quiet storm season.

Happy Baptism Anniversary, Little One.
I look so forward to celebrating this special anniversary with you every year.
May you always walk in the footsteps of Christ and in the light of His Holy Spirit.
God bless you always.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brave New World....

Oh....the exciting life of a 13 month old. She's really into discovering every inch of her newly expanding world. She's recently got super-excited about the discovery of her closet....and takes great pleasure into emptying it to the best of her abilities. The other day she took every one of her bows off the hanging bow-holder and left a trail from her room to the kitchen.

And then there's the whole climbing thing... And, yes, the fantastic great big bowl of water right on her level!

I'm all about letting Gianna explore her world even if it means a little extra work for me. One thing I have been a stickler about, however, is the doggy door. There are two doors: one that goes from the kitchen into the sunroom and one that goes from the sunroom to the outside. As persistent as she has been over the last four months, I have managed to keep my curious toddler at bay.
Until today.
I was doing something in the kitchen and she was playing nearby the fridge (by the doggy door). I heard it open and close, but then saw Max. (it's got little magnetic strips so you can hear all the movement.) No worries. Then I heard it open --- but it didn't close. I turned around to catch a glimpse of the cute little polka-dotted bottom of find my brave little monkey fearlessly forging through the doggy door to explore new territories. So, as any good and discipline-minded mother would do, I grabbed my camera and got these shots.

Then I sternly called her name and she flipped around to look at me. Boy, was she ever scared of me.
She was SO scared, in fact....

....that she darted toward the next door.
She almost had a taste of sweet freedom.
But Mommy got hold of her senses and put down the camera and had a little "chat" with her very brave daughter.
Sidenote: One little discipline trick I learned from a dear friend who studied child development, is if you have to raise your voice, or wag your finger, or give a bold, "no, no, no" ---- it's often better to direct it at the object (in this case the door) instead of the child. Basically, you're saying the child is not bad, but the action is bad (or in this case dangerous.)
Well, after I sternly scolded the doggy door and removed her from that area. She walked around a bit and then toddled straight back to the door. I thought for sure she was planning on another exploration attempt. But to my surprise, she bent down to the door. and shouted...."nyo, nyo, nyo!" And later, when my husband returned home, she greeted him, and then made a bee-line to the doggy door and gave the door a good fussin'.
At least she KNOWS it's wrong. Whether or not she tries it again...........that's a different story.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trip to Australia

Different Trips to the Same Place Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place. You've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip. So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia.

It seems there is no seat for you: You'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait - and wait - and wait. Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, "Relax, you'll get on a flight soon." Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, "It's not fair!" After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat."
"By boat?!" you say, "going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane." So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It's a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than air. People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, "Oh, be glad you didn't fly. My flight was horrible: traveling by sea is so easy."
You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia.
Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you got there, but in the place itself.

By: Diane Armitage (inspired by the story:Welcome to Holland - a great read for those who have been blessed with children who have any kind of challenges or special needs)

Dedicated to all my friends who are planning their "trips to Australia" - just unsure of the method of transportation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One or Two?

I'm thinking there should have been two candles on that birthday cake last month.

This is not the first time I've uttered the words: "Please, Lord, let this be a phase." But, each time the little bump in the road happens, I seem to fear the worst....that 'this' may be the new normal.

What could this precious cherub possibility be doing to have her mother so frazzled? Well, don't let those pillowy dimpled cheeks, dreamy blue eyes and squishy little body fool you. This conniving little toddler has been yanking every one of our chains.

For starters, she has been hoarse for the last 7 days. Because she's been sick? No, because she's been screaming like a wild banshee for just about any reason she can come up with: not getting her way & waking up in the middle of the night just wanting a little company top the list. I'm not talking "fussing" here, I'm of her lungs, sounds like she's being tortured screams.

She had her first ear infection a couple of weeks ago, so I thought maybe it returned and she was in pain. (She'd been swatting at her ears for days.) To be sure, I took her into the Children's Clinic. Ears were as clear as crystal. Doctor said, "Maria, it could just be teething." (Dear many more teeth do we have left?) After the doctor visit --- the jig was up for the monkey. I had her number, now. (I know, don't I sound like a real tough cookie?) Tough love, here we come....and go.........and come...........and go. Consistency in discipline is great in theory, but isn't everything?

In the past when little "phases" occurred of behavioral/sleeping/eating issues - it would usually return to some state of normalcy within 3 or 4 days. Holy Cannoli. This go-round had me shaking in my boots. She was going strong for over a week. I guess the grunt-fest was a cake walk. And what gets me is that she can turn it on and off like a light switch. She can be in full-on melt-down and catch a glimpse of her Elmo doll or book, and sweetly and excitedly exclaim, "Eh woh." Same goes for the words outside, bye bye, car, milk. etc. She can turn on a dime.

I think the worst behavior (in my husband's opinion, for sure) is her new attempts at swatting our faces or glasses. It's intentional, planned, and thoroughly enjoyed by our angelic little coconut. What gives? We don't swat back, pop her little hands, and we're realizing that even stern scoldings aren't working well. I think her "currency" is being removed from people. She's catching on, because when I went to fetch her from her empty play pen today after an "incident" she immediately signed "sorry" and blew a kiss. So she's either penitent, or she's just so "experienced" that she's figured out the drill.

Let's just say there's been a lot of "time outs" in Lewis Land as of late. Oh, not for her.....for ME! I'm trying to hold on to whatever marbles I have left. How brilliant is God to make them so doggone cute?

I'm trying not to get bent out of shape about anything, because she's exhibiting qualities that will serve her well as she grows up (not so much the hitting, but the confidence, determination and quick mind.) It's just a season, and seasons come and go. Even though most of these antics are frustrating, we do find ourselves turning our heads to laugh with some of the stuff she's pulling lately. If we are correcting a behavior she's turn her head and do the sign for "all done." Sometimes, after one of her swatting attempts, she'll kiss us before we have a chance to respond. Quick little thinker, eh? Truth be told, I'm happy to be blogging about parenting challenges instead of wondering if and when we would ever become parents.
And it's truly not all bad these days - not even remotely. Last week, when we were in the Children's Clinic, she had a good 15-20 people in stitches as she danced, signed, and mocked every ailment the poor sick kids exhibited - coughing, sneezing, sniffling and crying.
P.S. I wrote this last week but couldn't bring myself to post it. You know how it goes, you want to process it by writing about it, but it's difficult to find the humor in the midst of it - especially when you can't see the end in sight. It sure is tempting not to blog the challenging stuff regarding this whole parenting roller coaster. I guess the fear is that I might come across as negative or complaining. I decided that 20 or 30 years down the road, I want to remember all the rough stuff, too. But mostly, I want to offer a fair picture of our lives and parenting attempts. It's lovely to report all the cute and fun stuff, but for us, it's only part of the picture.


"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win." ~Jonathan Kozel
I'm telling you, at 13 months, this sweet precious textbook baby of recent past is fitting all the classic sign of a typical 2 year old (I refuse to use the term "terrible twos" at this point - although, after a few more weeks of this behavior and it ought to be rolling off my tongue with little effort.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Southern Living Magazine (a HUGE bargain!!!)

Okay girls, if you're like me, you're trying to reduce the amount of clutter in your homes. Well, I'm making an exception. I was just blog hopping and came across a real find. Apparently has an amazing deal offering a year long Southern Living subscription for only $5. I figured there would be other charges, but that's it....FIVE BUCKS. No joke. (That's a 92% savings. Not too shabby.) CLICK HERE if you're interested.

Thanks to BooMama for the heads up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ordinary days.....

...are filled with wonder, ...and walks,
...and pauses,
....and connections,
...and dimpled grins,
Hmm. It seems as though ordinary days are filled with extaordinary moments.

May you embrace the extraordinary today.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Angelic baby taking a bath...
Not- so-angelic baby 30 seconds before said bath...
Is 13 months too early for chores?
Just wonderin'.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sip and See Tea

Baby Showers can be a tricky thing for adoptive families for obvious reasons. From the time we got "the call" finding out we were becoming parents, only FOUR (4) HOURS later, we were home with our new baby girl. Trust me when I tell you that there was no time for a baby shower, or even an actual shower for that matter!! So when Gianna was 10 weeks old, my treasured friends gave us a "Sip and See" instead. (I'm not sure if this is just a Southern thing -- sounds like it, doesn't it?) Anyway, you "sip" on some tea and "see" the new baby.

I wasn't blogging quite yet, so I thought I'd post the pictures from the event. I'm IN LOVE with the pictures my friends Michelle and her daughter, Jessie, took. Thought I'd share them. (The first few pics are actual pages from Gianna's baby book.)
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I'm linking this post to Kelly's Korner where she is sponsoring a Baby Shower tour of blogs! :)

Adoption: Looking Back - Looking Ahead

A year ago today we went to court and were granted "placement" of our sweet baby girl. That hearing basically made us legal guardians of Gianna with the intent to adopt her. In the state of Louisiana, this the first (legal) step toward adoption.
(Gianna on her Placement Day) Then, there's a YEAR LONG waiting period. Most people get nervous when I tell them this, with their first question being, "Is there a chance you could lose her?" (That's an understandable thought - especially after we survived a previous horrible court experience losing the two children that we parented for six weeks.)

The answer is no. They state really is making sure WE are wanting to do this and are committed to this child forever and ever. Amen. Basically, it's just a formality and the year is a customary waiting period for all adoptive families in our state. We are not on trial nor do we have to jump through hoops to try and "keep" her. All the hoop jumping is done prior to children coming into the home. (I take that back, we have to endure another home study - this time by OCS.)

If you aren't aware of all the prep-work involved in becoming "approved" and acquiring a home study...let me just say that it's quite an undertaking. The paperwork and home study part of the process is grueling, intense, somewhat lengthy, exposing all vulnerability.

You are subject to intense examination of your home, your marriage, your medical history, relationship histories, family histories, financial situation, educational background, mental/emotional state, reason for choosing adoption, infertility journey (if applicable), parenting philosophies, strengths and weaknesses about ourselves and our spouse, opinions about various kinds of adoptions and what type of children we are open to parenting, and things you never thought you'd share with anyone other than your spouse.

You must have references, reference checks, background checks, fingerprints sent to local, state and federal government, medical exams, pages and pages of paper work, hours and hours of inquisition (home study visits). We had to write our autobiography (ours was 50 pages typed - single space - I'm sure everyone isn't as wordy as me.) We were questioned on all this information as a couple and separately by a social worker (than heavens ours was a dream - and now a friend.) And then we have to wait for a report on our "readiness" which is shared with the attorney or adoption agency and the judge hearing the case. Yep, even more people to be "all up in your business."

(Our attorney who would move heaven and earth for this baby girl - and any other child.)
People (usually close friends and family) often are angered that we had to endure such scrutiny. Personally, I think it made us better people and better parents. As someone who has advocated for children most of her life, I really do understand why the process is in place. I was never angry about having to go through such an exposing process. However, I was/am frustrated with the fact that everyone else becoming parents doesn't. (Primarily those people making reckless choices in their lives.) Can you imagine what a difference that would make in this world if everyone had this preparation before becoming parents?

Several people, in an effort to give me support/comfort, have told me, "You are so lucky you didn't have to go through labor." I know they meant well, but there is a lot that they may not have considered. In many cases, the road to DECIDE to adopt is filled with difficulty, pain and uncertainty. If infertility was an issue - that is a consuming experience that is full of pain, questions, frustrations, etc. If miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, still birth, infant death, failed adoption(s) etc. were issues - the pain attached to those experiences is enormous.

Once the decision is made to adopt, then the labor really begins. Filling out the paperwork and autobiography was mentally exhausting. I told my social worker that if would be happy if I never had to write or read anything about myself ever ahead. (And here I am typing a blog post. Isn't life funny.) I can't even begin to describe what the "waiting" is like....wondering when (and many times IF) that call would ever come. And, of course, with domestic adoption there's that ever-present fear that you'll deal with a birthmother who changes her mind either before, at birth or after the child's been in your home and part of your family.
So, with a wink and a smile, my response to those people deeming me "lucky" for clepping out of labor is, "Mine may not have looked anything like yours, but you be can sure that I've experienced labor - and it lasted a whole lot longer than you might imagine."
In just a few weeks. (September 14, 2009) we will be heading back to family court for the Finalization of Gianna's Adoption. Here name will legally be the one we gave her...."Gianna Elyse." (Now, it is the one her birthmother gave her.) A new birth certificate will be issued with our names as her parents. (Can you believe we don't have a birth certificate?) That will allow us to apply for a social security card. Who would have ever thought that a birth certificate and social security card would mean so much?

The only real disappointment attached to this exciting upcoming court experience is that we have to go before the judge who presided over the unjust adoption nightmare we endured earlier last year. It was very messy and, without going into details, very much of a legal and moral outrage. We couldn't get a different judge due to some technical complications. So, for whatever prayers you can offer our way, we'd be most grateful. I'm just going to have to put on my "big girl panties" and hold my head high and make the day a memorable one for my daughter and family (without being held in contempt of court.) :)
(The judge who presided over our placement hearing last year. I actually went to high school with her. I WISH we had her this go 'round.)

I would imagine that my experience in becoming a mother is just like most mother's. I'm pretty sure many of us would say, "The process was long, challenging and arduous, but oh-so worth it!"

We feel blessed to have been gifted with this journey toward adoption.
Looking forward to September 14th, Baby Girl!

* My prayers go out to all those women/couples out there who are journeying toward parenthood and who are enduring decisions, frustations and waiting.

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