November 29, 2011

Like a Phoenix, Redux

Well, well. Here I am, again. Once again feeling like I owe someone an apology for being so neglectful of this space. Myself, more than anything. Because this is my space, a space I carved out for me, to come and unload whatever is on my mind – and there has been A LOT on my mind. It would help for me to come here, purge my thoughts…but I just don’t make the time for myself to do it. That is a shame, and something I deeply need to rectify. I tend to internalize my feelings way too much…which would come as a surprise to some, since I talk so much. I just tend to not let people peek into the dark and twisty of it all, most of the time. Not that I want to only be dark and twisty here (can you tell I love Grey’s Anatomy? I’m so unoriginal!), and not that all my hidden feelings ARE that way. I just have a lot to say, and usually I have deep ongoing conversations with myself in my head…I just wish I could motivate myself to log in and type those thoughts out here. It might be mostly boring, but sometimes it can get pretty interesting in there.

So, at least I can console myself that this time it has not been over a year since my last post. Is that sad or what, to congratulate myself on it only being 8 months?? Or, closer to 9 really but who’s counting? But again, as last time, many things have happened over the last year.

First and foremost, our adoption is STILL not yet final. More snags, this time all to do with the state not having filed for my son’s SSI back years ago when they should have. He is autistic, and was supposed to already have been approved for SSI, which automatically qualifies him for federal adoption assistance. Unfortunately, that never happened even though it was marked in his file that it did – and if you know anything about the government and disability, you know it takes forever (plus one day for good measure) to get anything approved as far as that is concerned. So we waited…and waited. Fortunately or unfortunately (you can look at it both ways), our 3 youngest have been in the foster system for 5 years as of November 9th, and once kids are in the system for a consecutive 5 year period, they automatically qualify for federal assistance. So on November 9th, we went ahead with the adoption without waiting for the SSI approval. We were worried that our promise of adoption in 2011 would once again prove to be untrue…but alas…with a wonderful caseworker and adoption attorney on our side – everything was pushed through VERY quickly, and we have our adoption hearing on December 9th!! It will be a VERY Merry Christmas this year! FINALLY! Our kids will legally be ours. No more monthly visits, no more different last names causing odd looks…FINALLY! My Facebook friends better watch out on December 9th, because that afternoon 2 years of memories I haven’t been able to share with them, oh how they will be shared now (insert scary laugh here)!

Another thing I want to talk about is my dad’s cancer. It’s been a long road this year for my dad, but finally he is feeling better. Thank God above, he can enjoy -truly enjoy – the holidays this year. He is not feeling sick, in fact is feeling better than he has in a long time. This isn’t due to some miracle cure, sadly, but at least a temporary miracle nonetheless. You see, he had a bone marrow transplant this summer. It was a hard process for him – I can’t go into details because for one, it was so much a blur of scary but also…it’s still hard to think about all he went through. But at any rate, it was done, weeks in the hospital and months afterward of feeling bad…but I am glad to say he is now in a sort of ‘remission’. We don’t know how long, and quite frankly, I don’t want to know. I just want to enjoy it. I won’t forget about the cancer or the prognosis, it will still be there lurking in the back of my mind…but I think seeing my dad looking healthy and feeling good again – and happy because he’s feeling good – will help me to not think predominantly about the “C” word, and just be able to enjoy the time we spend with him.

Amidst all that was going on with my dad this summer, and actually WHILE he was in the hospital recovering from the bone marrow transplant, we also lost a very special part of our family. My husband’s grandmother, or Nonnie, as we called her. Words can’t express what she meant to me and she deserves more than just a paragraph in this update, so I will save that conversation for later…but losing her has left a strikingly large hole in our lives.

Obviously there has been a lot more go on in the last year than those few things, but those are the “big” things that have weighed on my mind over the last year.

On a happier note, although I don’t want to rush what is left of this year since we are now in the midst of my very favorite time of the year, I am looking forward to what I just know will be a FABULOUS year for my family. We already have many things in motion that will happen in 2012, and being that it is the first year we will start out as a full, complete family (legally anyway), I think that sets the tone for a year with good things on the horizon. I don’t want to jinx myself, but it does look like (praise God!) financially things are going to be looking way, way up for us next year. There is also a vacation to Hawaii in the works…and I am hoping to be able to get back to discuss that more in depth later. It’s something we’re so excited about…the trip of a lifetime for us that has been a ‘dream in the works’ for over 14 years now.

So at that, I would love to say “stay tuned”…but I don’t want to leave you hanging on promises that may not come to be. But hopefully, you will see a lot more from me in the coming year.

Love and peace,
Mariah

And then…nothing. Not for over a year. I stopped writing altogether. 2012 was a busy year, very busy. House renovations, an anniversary trip to Hawaii with my parents (their 40th, our 15th), paying ourselves out of debt, surgeries (albeit minor) for my daughter and husband which put us back in the debt we had paid ourselves out of, a major health crisis for my mother-in-law (which she is now on the other side of, and doing well)…but even with all of that, it was a good year overall. It was our first year as an “official” family, it was a year of health for my dad. He had been in so-called remission (not ‘real’ remission because his cancer will never fully go away), and feeling great. And finally, things had gotten back to normal enough for me to start feeling like I could take time to write again, so I, once again, started over. Started fresh. And here we are. Now you are caught up as to some of the nuances that have brought me to where I am today. Of course I didn’t share all of my past writings, that would take way too much time and space, but I shared the ones that have the most bearing on things I might write about here today. There are things I have never written about that I probably should. I have never written about how Jeff and I met…our oldest daughter’s scary-but-happy-ending arrival…our adoption story. Those are things I’m going to try to get down in writing someday soon. But for now, you know the basics of me.

Blessings,

Mariah

February 4, 2011

This post was made over 2 years ago on my old blog…but it still brings up as many emotions today as the day I wrote it. In those 2 years, we’ve made lots of memories, had lots of trying times…and felt the fast-paced ticking of time like never before. I wrote only one more blog post on my old blog after this, and I will share that in a few days. Then I’ll stop with the whole living in the past thing, I promise. I just wanted readers of this blog to be able to know me a bit better so that you might understand a little more when I talk about things I’m dealing with concerning my dad, our kids, etc. 

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes

You thought I was gone right? Never to return. I’m sure you’ve seen it many times…a blogger who just can’t find the time to write, eventually drifting off into the great unknown, all but forgotten by everyone.

Well, I have returned. I make no grand promises as to this blog of mine…I’ve made that mistake before. But I am still here. I do still have a lot to say. I just need to learn to take time for myself, so that I can say it.

Life has been crazy. Insane. A brief update…and then hopefully I’ll be able to keep up from there. There were 2 major events since the last time I wrote. Not by a long shot all that has happened but the things that have most affected me, for sure.

In December of 2009, I wrote about how we had gone from a family of 3 to a family of 6 and that in the year 2010 our 3 “new” kids would be officially adopted and part of our forever family.

Well, our not-so-“new” kids are doing really well…we are all still adjusting to life with each other. That will be on-going I’m sure. But we are a family now, with all the bumps and bruises and hugs and kisses to prove it. Just not the paperwork. You see, although they were supposed to be adopted in 2010…they weren’t. It just didn’t happen…the boys (10 & 9) have a lot of issues, one has autism and one with a LOT of emotional problems. However, “for real” this time, they will be adopted in 2011. We are filing the paperwork this month, and although we were told it could take up to 5 months to finalize, they WILL be adopted this year. It will be nice to have things finalized, although to us, at this point it is just a piece of paper which will say what we already know.

The other thing that happened…is the hardest thing for me. I have still not dealt with all of my emotions surrounding this, and I think that is in part why I felt the strong urge to come back to my blog. I need to have somewhere to go, somewhere I can say how I truly feel without worrying about how someone else is going to take it. Almost 2 years ago, in April 2009, I wrote about how they had found a tumor in my dad’s brain. How it wasn’t cancerous. How we were all happy about that and were adjusting to life as it would be – with my dad having radiation treatments and then lifelong monitoring of his brain to be sure the tumor wasn’t growing. The tumor shrunk and we all moved on, although it was “a new normal” for us. It made me realize the frailty of life, and the fact that my parents truly weren’t going to be around forever.

This year that fact was hit home even harder, with a much more forceful awakening. My dad was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which makes up only something like 5% of all cases. The VA has said that it is related to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. The life expectancy of MCL is only on average about 4 years, but it could be a few more or a few less. Nothing they can do will extend that, barring some new treatment becoming available in the next few years. This has been so hard to come to terms with. It’s still hard to even think about, and I don’t think the full realization of it has hit me yet. My dad is dying…and I can’t even say those words out loud. It’s hard enough just to type them without backspacing and erasing them from the page. As though it would erase them from being true…I wish it would. I wish there was a backspace key so I could edit that stupid disease from my dad’s body. But for now, until some brilliant scientist comes up with a medical backspace key that will save my dad…I am going to have to learn to enjoy every day I have left with him and make the most of it. I don’t necessarily think I’ve taken my family for granted a lot…but this has shown me that every day with them is precious. You may think you have all the time in the world with someone, but you just don’t. You just never know when some tragedy will take away someone – it could be a cancer diagnosis that might give them a few years, or a car wreck that will take them away tomorrow. Hold the people you love tightly, let them know they love you every day. That is the lesson I’m learning, I just wish it wasn’t such a tough one.

Until next time…Love,
Mariah

December 28, 2009

Relax, Refresh and Renew

I sit here at my computer, thinking about my blog and realizing it was almost this exact same time last year that I thought starting a blog back up was a great idea. Now here it is…a year later…and I’ve made a seriously pathetic number of posts so far. I started this blog as a way to remind myself to be motivated, be creative, be inspired…maybe even to help keep my goals. I still want this blog to represent that…and everything about life that I love so much – God, family, home, writing, crafting – living my life to the fullest. Enjoying every moment and hoping that I make the people in my circle feel as blessed as they make me feel. There are reasons…or excuses…as to why I have neglected to post – we really have had a very busy and very productive (!) year. We went from a family of 3 to a family of 6 almost overnight. That all started about mid-year…right after we were licensed to be foster parents. We started on the fostering journey thinking eventually we might adopt a child, maybe even two that came into our care along the way. That all changed pretty suddenly when 3 little blessings came our way, and the only way I can describe how it all happened is that it was meant to be…pre-destined, pre-determined…God’s plan for our life. Everything that happend was simply too unbelievable, too coincidental to have happened by some happy accident. These 3 kids were meant to become a part of our family, from the very beginning…all roads have led us here. I know this. So…now our happy little family of 3 is a happier, larger (and of course, busier) family of 6. The 4 kids we always dreamed of but knew we could never have…well now we have them. Life is good, God is amazing. So now, here I am…seemingly back to where I started. Right after Christmas, vowing next Christmas I will be more prepared, ready ahead of time and have made most of our family gifts. That didn’t happen for this Christmas – but I am even more determined than ever to make that happen next Christmas. I realized this Christmas just how hectic it is and how fast it goes with 4 kids…so much faster than it went with just our daughter. I think I took for granted her first 11 Christmases, the calm, the time we were able to spend together just enjoying the season. Things sure went differently between work, therapy appointments, doctor appointments, shopping for more gifts than I’ve ever imagined buying for one occassion. And although next year we will also be busy, decidedly so, at Christmas…that is pushing me even more to vow that I will be 95% ready for Christmas by December 1st (5% reserved for baking which can’t really be done that far in advance, haha). The reason we need to be ready so early? Because over the week of Christmas, to celebrate the first Christmas after finalizing the adoptions, we will be on a family vacation to Disney World! I am so excited about that…and want everything to go smoothly. The first 5 days of vacation will be spent at the parks, and the last 2 relaxing and enjoying each other. We plan to drive to the coast and spend Christmas Eve watching the sun set over the Gulf. So you see…I really do need to be more organized, more productive and more prepared for 2010. I have set several goals and I am hoping that I can see most of them to fruition. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. For me, although hectic and crazy, and except for a few not-so-great moments, it was one of the most wonderful Christmases yet.

God Bless and have a happy and SAFE New Year!

Mariah

September 15, 2009

Change is in the Air

Big things are happening right now, but I don’t want to jinx myself by saying too much. Let’s just say that perhaps some day soon our house might be getting a whole lot noisier…

Stay Tuned!

Love,
Mariah

**I posted this when we were first contacted about the kids that we’ve since adopted…so obviously I didn’t jinx myself! 😉 I just wanted to include it for a basic timeline of when things happened for us!

Blessings,

Mariah

February 24, 2009

Tired

Man…I did not realize how hard it would be to get motivated to write again. I really want to write, I love to write…but when I had my last blog it was so much easier. Probably because I did not work, and now I have a stressful job (where I sit at a computer all day). I am tired when I get home…and the last thing I want to do is sit at a computer again. Maybe I need to not be so hard on myself and not expect to feel like writing more than once a week. I mean, it’s not like I have a Blogger Boss expecting a 3 paragraph post each day by 5 or I’m fired…right?

I do have a lot to talk about…a lot has been on my mind. We have finally started the foster-to-adopt process. Well, at least – I think we have. We received our background check paperwork in the mail, filled it all out, and returned it to the DCFS receptionist who assured me she would get it to our caseworker. That was Friday the 13th…hmmm…now that I say it maybe that was a bad omen. I haven’t heard a word since. Also I might mention that in the envelope with the background paperwork we had to fill out there were no instructions concerning what to do with it. So I just assumed we were to give it back to them. Maybe I was wrong. I might know the answer to that if our caseworker wold return any of the 3 messages I left, or answer the phone any of the hundred or so times I have tried to call and not left a message.

We are new at this, and have no idea how the process works really. I feel like there MUST be something we should be doing at this point…but nobody who knows what we should be doing knows what THEY should be doing (which is being a little more helpful with newbies to the foster world). Granted, I know they are busy. But, so am I. I am an accountant in the RV industry, which if you haven’t heard isn’t doing so hot…and we are on skeleton crew. I am now doing the job that at least 2 people used to do in a minimum of 80 hours a week…and I have to get it done in 40. So I do know a little about being busy. But I also know if I didn’t return calls of new dealers who wanted to do business with us, we would lose those new dealers as they become frustrated with not getting return calls. The same could probably also be said of Foster Care. I have only been officially in the process for about a week and a half, but already I can truly imagine that the frustration of never being able to talk to anyone or get any answers might drive people to just say “forget it”. I am not one of those people…I will soldier on. I will be patient. I just wish there could be an easier way. Maybe I should quit the RV industry and go to work for the Foster system…they seem to need the help.

Well…more later (I didn’t say *when* later…haha)…I have a phone call to make 🙂

Love,
Mariah

May 13, 2005

Crestfallen

I don’t know why, after all this time of…nothing, I would torture myself like this again. I promised Jeff that I would give it another year…we haven’t even started and already I feel like we’re wasting the next year of our lives.

**This entry was posted after we had decided, for one last time, to try for a baby. We had gotten fantastic insurance coverage with a new job that included limited infertility coverage at 100% with a very low deductible, and this post came a few appointments into our treatment with a fertility specialist, after I would have to have exploratory surgery because my tubes were blocked and they needed to find out why. I just felt like it was yet another blow after years of the rollercoaster ride of infertility. A few months later, our insurance coverage would be changed just as we were on the cusp of starting IUI treatments, which we could not afford without the insurance coverage – once again ending our hopes of having another baby. This is by no means some fantastic post that I just had to include to show what a skilled blogger I am or any of that, I just wanted to include it to share a little bit of the emotion I felt during our infertility years.

Blessings,
Mariah

August 16, 2004

What Could Have Been

I know…my second post in a day. Amazing. But this is more of a continuation of the first…so bear with me.

Sometimes I feel like such a failure for not being able to give Jeff another child. I feel like he got the raw end of the deal, because “our” infertility lies within me. If he would have chosen someone else, he could have had any number of children. I feel like I am cheating him out of something he very much deserves. I don’t want to be the cause of any sorrow in his heart. It might be an irrational thought, but it’s one that has played over an over in my head: I am the cause of this heartbreak. But, if I want to be happy, if I want to be free, I need to let go. I need to give up the guilt and the negative feelings towards myself, and quit dwelling on heartache. And this “letter” is my way.

You would have been beautiful. You would have had the same eyes as your big sister, the same smile as your father, the same curly dark hair as me. We all wanted you so badly, and it has been a hard road to where we are now. But here we are. At the point of letting go. Although it makes me very sad, I have to say goodbye to what you would have been; to let go of who you could have been. This may seem funny to some…how I can be so heartbroken, why am I writing about someone that never existed? But you did…in our hearts. You were real to us…a dream that seems so very realistic. We just knew you would appear someday, but you never did. I still don’t know why, but that’s a question I need to let go of also, because they whys and the what-ifs would eat me alive. Why can’t I? What if we tried this?

So anyway, it’s time to say goodbye. It’s been too hard on all of us, and for us to be able to heal we need to let go. Though we will always want you, and there will always be an ache in our hearts without you, this chapter of trying so exhaustingly to bring you to us is over. I won’t forget you, I’m quite sure I’ll think of you whenever I see a newborn in their mother’s arms; whenever I hear the sweet sound of a baby’s cry; whenever I see “I’m the Big Sister” emblazoned on a little pink t-shirt. It won’t be easy, but I have to move on.

All my love.

**This past post is just a small, microscopic glimpse of the heartbreak that was our battle with secondary infertility. Obviously we have now moved on from this space we were in at that point, but the heartache is always there…even if it’s smaller. Even reading this is still hard for me. I have my family now – the one I always wanted and I am overjoyed by that…but there will always be a part of me that feels sorrow over never being able to carry another child in my body, not being able to raise another child from the first second of their life. I took so much for granted the first time around. I guess there is a lesson in that.

Blessings,
Mariah