Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bella grace

bubbles in the driveway
swinging in my pink swing
dressing up in tutus
getting into everything.

crayons spilled on the carpet
twirling in my new dress
bath time in a big tub
goodnight book and mom's caress.

toys across the whole house
running down a grassy hill
dinner with my family
jumping, splashing and a spill.

goldfish crackers carseat
dancing round the kitchen floor
building blocks and brothers
now whose coming through my door?

cheerios and sippy cups
climbing on my daddy's lap
dog and cats a chasing
things to open and unwrap.

kisses for most everyone
picking flowers from a pot
hands to hold on tightly
laughing, giggling quite a lot.

sidewalk chalk and puddles
strolling slowly down the street
dreaming in my comfy bed
after dinner ice cream treat.

books across my bedroom floor
rocking babies just for me
toenail painting by my sis
watching brothers climb a tree.

puzzle pieces in my purse
riding on my little trike
greeting people at the store
through the woods a mini hike.

words to learn along the way
watching, looking... much to see
yard exploring with my mom
bandaids, boo-boos on my knee.

new things to discover
treasures to uncover
eyes wide open wonder
looking in and under
soaking up my brand new ways
figuring out life's brand new maze
i am home and in my place
i belong.  sweet bella grace.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

things which matter

i haven't posted much in these past few weeks, but i assure you there is a steady stream of paragraphs always forming in my cluttered head.  i am not short on ideas. i am rarely short on words. and with five children, i am clearly not short on inspiration (i.e., subject material).  but friends, i must admit, i am unbelievably short on time.  maybe time is not quite the right word.  perhaps a better word is energy.  i am short on energy.  please keep in mind, that phrase is hard to even form, let alone type.  i don't readily acknowledge these kinds of shortages.  i don't really like shortages of any kind. but, regardless of my pride, it is true.  i am short. way short.

bella is a beautiful fit for our family.  but, she is two.  oh, is she ever.  two. two. two. i've successfully (okay, adequately) shepherded four other children through the Year of Two.   i should be almost a least an expert on two year olds. yeah, almost.   but i had forgotten there is no such thing as an expert when it comes to two year olds.  each one is different. they are always changing.  they are smarter than their size. they are faster than their mommies. they are busier than i care to ever be.  they are delightful and funny and captivating and curious and adventurous... and they are, most definitely, exhausting.  bella is two and i am in my forties.  the year my oldest turned two i was still in my twenties.  it does make a difference.

i wrote a few weeks ago about how our older children were literally fighting over bella after we returned home from china. they each wanted her all to themselves. but those greedy, little children all went back to school in the past few weeks and things have changed.  when they do come home they are thrilled to scoop bella into their arms and hug her tightly for a few moments.  but they often come home with backpacks full of homework or friends to call or  projects to complete or practices to attend.  they are all busy school-aged children and though it is wonderful that all the bickering over the new baby sister has ceased,  i can tell you they are missed by bella and me both.  i recently joked with our headmaster about the possibility of keeping one mcnatt child home per week.  i could homeschool them on a rotational basis.   we could count spilled cheerios for our math lesson. lunchtime and diaper changing could easily replace science class.  chasing bella around our home could transfer into PE credit and reading rhyming books to bella could round out the literature portion for the day.  perhaps then i could actually finish a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher  - All At One Time - that is if i choose to be a total slackard about the homeschooling thing.  

i wake up each morning with a long "to do" list.  some mornings, i even take the time to write out my grand lists.  i have projects and plans and all sorts of directions in which to run.   that is me.  i have always been a get-it-done kind of girl. in fact,  i love getting it done.  i adore finishing up a project whether it be painting an old armoire or organizing my craft closet.  i take great, great, magnificent pride in my task.  i love the Start to Finish thing.  i enjoy checking it off my list and actually glory in its completion.  seriously!  my children and husband have often caught me just staring at something i've recently finished.  i may ask them to tell me again how much they like it or how good it looks or how nice it is.  i crave their pats of affirmation.  a little obnoxious, i know.  i am sorry. i am a get-it-done girl and i like everyone to notice.  so, you can imagine how my earlier energy-shortage-confession is not sitting well with me. AND you can imagine with my two year old toddler in tow i am failing miserably as a get it done girl.  i can't seem to get anything done.  i begin to unload the dishwasher and at about the halfway point i have bella behind the island juggling knives.  i begin to sort the laundry only to find bella climbing inside the dryer or fingerpainting with the stain remover.  you get the picture.  most of you mothers know this routine.  many years ago when we had a slew of small people in our home (family planning), rick would come home and ask me the innocent, but dreaded, question, "so...what did you do today?"  uuugggghhh.   "oh, nothing sweetheart.  i sat on the sofa and shared a box of bon-bons with our toddlers.(imagine my tone)."  oh my!  he learned quickly to avoid asking that particular question.   

now it wasn't my intention to write in a tone of complaint or grumbling.  i only wanted to set for you the stage of our home in these weeks of transition. but...what i really want you to know is how on some days nothing gets done and projects don't get finished because i have things like caterpillars to study.  i have raindrops to watch.   i have board books to read. i have bubbles to blow.  bella and i might spend 30 minutes laying in the grass or cuddling on the couch.  i could water our flowers with the mega superspray setting on our hose or we could use her tiny, purple fish watering can.  (the purple fish  holds about 2 cups of water total).  somedays we walk down the driveway to get the mail.  if i go alone i can be there and back within minutes.  walking down with bella could take 20 minutes by the time we stop and study the ants crossing our path.  though little is quick and easy with a two year old, it is, very often, more enjoyable.  i can tell you with certainty i would have missed those raindrops and never have noticed the ants.  i have not stared at a caterpillar with such scrutiny for quite some time.   i think birds and butterflies are amazing, but i haven't stopped cooking dinner to watch them in i don't know how many years.  

having a two year old around our home again has been demanding and even exhausting....but it has been mostly exhilirating and definitely, at times, awe-inspiring.  i love how bella notices everything.  i love how the texture of peanut butter and the sizzle of bacon and the sound of the icemaker are things which cause bella to say, "ooh!"  she gives me these little tiny gifts of wonder every day...sometimes all day long.  i haven't thought about the challenge of putting on socks or the heaviness of a book or the height of a door handle in a very long time.  i haven't stood still and watched my shadow..i haven't kissed the tail of our cat...i haven't danced before bedtime or marveled at the moon in many years.  it is good, so very good, to have the tiny perspective again for these things which matter so much.  the only painting projects i might be working on for a while will be those involving fingerpaint ...the only organizing i might be doing is...well...RE-organizing things touched by busy little hands.  but i know what i do matters. and i know what i don't do...what i can't quite get to... won't matter in the grand scheme of things.  and so at the end of the day when there is little energy left to write or blog or post or is okay...i am busy dreaming of things which matter.

"only that day dawns to which we are awake."
~henry david thoreau

Friday, September 3, 2010

the finding note

i have never shared much about what bella's "gotcha day" looked like. the day we first met bella was such an incredibly emotional day.  the first time we touched her skin, held her in our arms, stroked her hair, listened to her really is still too overwhelming for words.  i have tucked away in my heart much of that day.  many of those moments. it is mine to treasure. i am certain it won't fade. we have some video taken of our meeting. i am not even sure who was filming, but we have it.  funny thing though, we haven't once sat down to watch it.  i don't need to.  i have the play by play so imprinted in my memory, i am not sure i will ever need video. i am sure a day will come when we will want to share it with bella, and for that i am glad.

there is one thing about that day, however, i do want to share now. i have wanted, all along, to tell the experience of that first evening. after arriving back at our hotel, new child in arms, we had to attend a meeting with our guide and the other adoptive families. it was mostly a paperwork kind of meeting. one parent stayed behind in the room with their child and one parent attended the meeting. i stayed. rick attended. 

he came back later that night and told me the most amazing thing had happened.  while our guide, simon, was going through the files on each of the children and giving the parents different forms and information he opened up bella's file. rick said, "all of a sudden simon gasped."  while going through her file in this meeting he had come across a letter. the letter was from bella's biological parents. we had no idea it was there. simon was stunned. he told us it was highly unusual to find a letter. almost unheard of. we were told a year ago, in her referral file, a note had been left stating her birthdate. but that is all the information we thought was given. no one seemed to know anything about this letter. it was a complete surprise to all of us.  

simon sat at the conference table and translated it as he read out loud. there wasn't a dry eye in the room. all the other families were transfixed as well. after rick arrived back to the hotel room and told me what had happened, i wasted no time grabbing the video camera and heading back up to the 28th floor of the hotel in search of simon. he graciously agreed to re-read it and allow me to video.  i have shared this video on facebook and you tube....but have always wanted to share the actual words in my blog.  so...on this uneventful thursday evening, almost two months later, i am now, finally, getting around to it.  it is worth capturing. 

"this poor baby girl at the first moment after she was born she was diagnosed with heart disease. and both of us, her biological parents were from a poor family. we could not afford the expense of the inpatient medical treatment. we were not willing to see her staying in pain. we had no idea. we had to abandon her. it is hard to tell how painful i am. we do hope some people with great loving hearts and some good doctors could help this baby girl and give her the medical treatement.  thank you so much." 

i probably don't have to tell you what a treasure this note is.  an obvious and amazing gift.   someday we will be able to share this note with bella.  someday our little china doll will read through this blog and she will know her story. someday she will listen to simon's reading of the note.  someday she will understand how much her biological parents loved her. even in her abandonment she was deeply loved.  i cannot imagine a more perfect ending for our "gotcha day" on july 19th.  i went to bed that night completely overwhelmed with how loving and generous our Very Big God is. i am tickled knowing He saved for us this surprise...on this very night.  bella fell asleep that night while her mama whispered into her ears, "baby, you have been loved and you are loved."