Way Back Wednesday

Lord willin' and the Creek don't rise, this will be the last Way Back Wednesday post on this version of A Southern Ruckus. Check back in the next few days for a jazzy new upgrade!What's Way Back Wednesday?

*Originally posted March 6, 2009 on Mommy Diaries. 


The Silver Lining 

Sass hit the "Terrible Twos" earlier than most kids, about when she was 17 months old. She does a little better each day, but for the most part her personality right now consists mainly of tantrums over very trivial things, including HOW I PEEL HER BANANA! (Ridiculous, but the only "fit-proof" way to do it is to give her the banana, let her look at it, she gives it back and ASKS for it to be peeled, and you peel it. If you do any of these steps out of order you are asking for trouble and that is a fact.)

Matt and I have talked a few times about how much easier life was with Sassafras when she was a baby. She was less mobile (as in, she stayed where we put her rather than risking her life and mobility by jumping off tables and standing in chairs), less verbal (no screaming loud enough to set off the alarm or whining NONONONO when she isn't getting her way), and less needy (she wants to color and do puzzles and play outside by herself, but really that means she wants you. Right there. The whole time. Doing nothing else but watching her.). Parenting a toddler is tiring, and parenting this toddler is pure exhausting!

However, I've been thinking lately that while this is by no stretch one of my favorite ages of hers, Sassy's "Terrible Twos" are pretty terrific. Yes, she whines and screams and pitches tantrums, BUT I do remember how she was such a late talker and how I yearned to hear her say "Mama." It still feels so great to hear her say my name, even if it is Mamamamamamamamamamamamama. I also love talking WITH her. Sure, a baby can't talk back or tell you no, but you can't have a conversation with a baby, either. The stuff she comes up with on her own amazes me, and I  really enjoy seeing her grow and develop mentally. I love our little exchanges, and it's great hearing her copy Matt's or my own mannerisms with her own little Sassafras-twist. Adorable!

I had Spring Book Fair this week at school, so one afternoon I took Sass up there to check it all out and look around. A baby wouldn't appreciate a book fair, but my oh my, my big girl did! She oohed and aahed over everything, and even picked out a book and light-up bouncy ball for me to buy. I love sharing this part of my life with her!

Another cool thing about her current age is the food element. It's true that Sass's eating habits vary wildly with her moods, but she's generally a very low-maintenance eater. We don't have to carry bottles or water or formula or jars of food around anywhere! Everywhere we go, she eats what we eat. Very convenient!

It was wonderful to hold Sassafras when she was a baby and look at her for hours, but even though she won't sit still for very long now, I like to observe her as she figures things out and I marvel at how smart she is and how quickly she catches on to things.

One of our favorite aspects of Big Girl Sass is that she will go and fetch things for us around the house. It's awesome to have her bring me a blanket when I'm cold or turn the lights off if it is too bright. She's pretty handy!

Hands down, the absolute best thing about Sassafras not being a baby anymore is.....sleeping all night!

So, when I think about all these great aspects of her current age, it's easy to see that the Big Girl benefits of Big Girl definitely outweigh the Baby. There's something great to life with an almost 2-year-old after all!

*By the way, life with my big girls has proven that the twos really weren't all that bad. It's the threes that have nearly put me in the grave.


Love notes




For all her hilarity and randomness, Sassafras is one of the gentlest and kindest souls. Every few weeks she will write us a little love note somewhere...
Sometimes on a sticky note. 
Sometimes on a little scrap of paper she hand-cut into a special shape. 
Sometimes on my Home Base dry erase board. 
Even though I know this about her, it still takes me by sweet surprise. 
And I love her even more. 

Way Back Wednesay

*Mommy Diaries, star date June 2007

What's Way Back Wednesday?

Being a Mommy

It has only been a few weeks since little Sassafras graced us with her presence, and our entire world has been turned upside down! We are seeing hours of the day that we haven't seen in years, and besides that we have absolutely no sense of day or time other than when the baby ate/peed/pooped last, and when she's due for another feeding or change. All during our pregnancy we heard about how life was about to change. We anticipated the odd hours and sheer exhaustion of caring for a newborn, but there have been some surprises.

I never knew that I would get so excited about Sassafras's burps.  I did not expect for my whole world to revolve around when and how much formula she takes. I did not know how happy her smiles (yeah-I know they aren't really smiles at a few weeks old...but they sure are cute) would thrill my soul the way they do.

Nothing could have prepared me for the irrational anxieties of motherhood. I worry incessantly about her feeding, pooping and peeing (too little? too much?), her breathing, her tummy, her sleep cycles (too much? not enough?), if she's too hot or too cold, and whether she's comfortable in her swing or in my lap or wherever she happens to be at the moment.  We did have a few scary choking episodes that make me worry about whether it will happen again and, if so, if I will be there to suction out the gook.  Still, my mind has no peace at night unless she is beside me (in her bed pulled up close to ours) with my hand on her chest feeling the rise and fall of her breathing.

Mostly, I could never have expected to have so much love for this tiny little baby...and the love of a mother is such a fierce love! There are so many loved ones in my life that I know I would die for, but I believe I would kill for Sassafras. Just sitting and holding her is so amazing. Sometimes when she looks at me and makes one of her silly faces, it absolutely takes my breath away.  I love looking into her eyes and thinking about what those eyes will see in her lifetime.  I do know that God has really big things in store for this little girl!

*5 years later...oh yeah, does He ever have great, big plans for her! 

Way Back Wednesday

*Mommy Diaries, star date November 2010

What's Way Back Wednesday?

1+1=Chaos

The New and Improved version of the Wilson fam now includes TWO children. That makes me so happy for a multitude of reasons. And...it makes me crazy! How come none of you people told me how hard it is to transition from 1 kid to 2?!

The Captain is a super duper over the top helpful daddy. Yet, even with all his support, we are both still scrambling constantly to give our girls whatever it is they need. Bath time is chaos. Bedtime (well, not for Pearl, but for Sassafras it is) is chaos. Getting dressed to go somewhere is chaos. It takes hours. HOURS. Even with clothes laid out and the bag already packed, it takes HOURS to get these girls dressed and ready to go. I don't understand it. How can the addition of one teeny tiny little girl add so much to our routine? There is always, ALWAYS another mess to clean up. One is making a mess while you are cleaning up some disaster made by the other one. It is unending.

And I won't even tell you about the laundry.

For this I was completely unprepared.

I hear that just as every new mom is unprepared at the life change her first child brings about, every new mom of a 2nd is just as shell-shocked at the chaos of a younger sibling. Our situation is even more intense because our 2nd came to us as a very active, very curious, very mobile 14 month old. We didn't get to ease into having a second, with a tiny little infant who mostly lays still. We jumped full force into toddlerhood, which I've always said was the hardest period in Sass's development. Total, nonstop, mischievous action.

I feel like a total rookie again, trying to figure out the best way to get my kids dressed and out the door for an event (which, no matter how many hours of prepping, is ALWAYS disastrous and we are always even later than we were before, and I'm so sorry if this has affected you but the truth is, it isn't likely to improve anytime soon. Just eat without us, start without us, leave without us...we'll catch up!), the best way to get them both fed in a group setting, the best way to work their schedules around one another so that everyone has what she needs. Everything is a new adventure!

Africa was hard because we were in another world. Coming home has been even harder in some ways because we are trying to find our new normal in our old world. And our new normal is taking way more work than we anticipated! I read on another adoptive mom's blog once that the real work starts when we get them home, and it is oh so very true. Parenting is just hard work, no matter which way you slice it.

I am told by moms with several kids themselves that the hardest transition was going from one child to two, and after that, it's just icing on the cake. I suppose that makes sense. You go from the parents throwing everything they've got into a baby, giving the other breaks here and there, to learning the total absence of breaks in "man on man" combat. Merciful heavens, it makes me wonder what we'll do when they outnumber us?!

Lawdyhammercy.

Just when we'd finally felt that we had this parenting gig sort of figured out, we start all over again. It's true that every child is different, even biological siblings, but Pearl's needs as an adopted child are extremely unique. Pretty much everything we did with Sassafras we are doing differently with Pearl because of her emotional maturity. The basic principles of our parenting style are unchanged, but the steps in which we carry out those basic goals are looking much different with chica numero dos.

And now, since in the 10 minutes it has taken me to record these thoughts, there are now cheerios all over my kitchen floor.

I have some more chaos to attend to...

*Oh yes, it was a difficult transition. It most surely was. 1-2 was hard, and 2-3 was hard. But every time someone tells me how full my hands are, I tell them so is my heart. 

Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date September 2010
What's Way Back Wednesday?

After 30 hours of travel across 8 time zones, we finally arrived in Africa last night! Sassafras was magnificent along the journey, and we had the opportunity to see just how long our little sleep-hater can go without rest. The answer? 24 hours, folks. That was 24 hours of pure family togetherness.

Before we left I was dreading the extended travel, but I loved having all that time for us to pour into Sassafras. It was a very, very special time, and we are so thankful that we had that opportunity before bringing home her baby sister! She was definitely focused on the mission of our journey, however, and asked no less than 15 times where Pearl was. Our two bigger planes had TV monitors installed in front of each seat back, which (among many other things) played a GPS screen shot of our progress across the Atlantic and then down over Europe into Africa. The moment that we saw our little place icon coming into the capital city, I was already choking back the tears. Granted, the weariness of all that traveling may have been taking its toll on me, but all I could think was that after so long of staring at my child's birth home on maps and Google Earth, and having studied so many aspects of the country, it was just overwhelming that after all the paperwork, all the waiting, all the heartache, we are finally, truly, really, completely, HERE!

We could barely hold our eyes open long enough to get our bags in and settled to our temporary home, and it took surprisingly little explanation for Sassafras to accept the fact that we are sleeping under mosquito nets while we are here. All our sweet little insect-fearing girl had to hear was "they keep the bugs out" to be totally fine with the whole net thing. Actually, I suspect she will demand a net of her very own when we get home! :)

After being awake half the night (because our bodies thought it was mid-day!), we dragged our bleary-eyed selves into a van to go to Pearl's orphanage. As soon as our van left the main road to turn up a side alley, I began thinking back over all that we have gone through the get to this point. We passed a sign with her orphanage's name, and my heart started pounding. Then we passed another sign, and pulled up at a big gate and waited a few minutes for someone from the orphanage to come open it.The van door opened, and there were two of the women who have poured all their energy for the last year into keeping our child (and so many others) healthy and safe. We hugged and cried a few moments, and then we made our way up the steps to the front door.

I recognized the door from some update pics we had received (and I of course have studied to the most minute detail!), and then we saw more workers coming out with literally a small sea of toddlers pouring out onto the steps. We dropped our bags and began scanning the crowd for OUR little familiar face...And suddenly, there she was. Wearing a denim dress that was so big it reached her ankles and a blue knit sweater. Toddling along with her little BFFs wondering what was up at the front of the line.

It took my breath away, seeing her standing there. In the flesh. This child who we have prayed for since the time she was in the womb. This precious little girl whose face we have stared at and kissed pictures of for months. This perfect treasure for whom God chose US, (for some reason we will never understand), to be her parents. Our daughter. Standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. It was almost too much. I bent over and looked at her and smiled at her, and she smiled right back. I held out my hands, and she lifted up her arms and walked to me. I picked her up, kissed her face, and held her close for a few moments taking in the hugeness of the moment. And crying/snotting all over her, of course.

Eventually, The Captain reached for her and held her, then we gathered Sassafras over and knelt down so they could get a good look at each other. It was sweet, even though neither of them really knew what to think.

Over the next few hours, we had the pleasure of being able to feed her lunch, bathe her, put her in a dress of her very own, share some gifts and donations for the children, play with her and the other children (each of whom would get a hug and a kiss and some love from their Mama, if I know you!), and spend a little time just with our little family. A few times we would be interacting with Pearl and then look around to check on Sassafras. Before I could even begin to worry that she might feel left out, we would see her in a corner, giving a bear to a crying little boy. Or handing a toy to someone who wanted to play. Or organizing a game of ball with some of the older toddler boys. It made me so proud of her that I almost couldn't (and can't right now) stop the tears. To see her little 3 year old self sharing love with these children, and to know that she was making it her personal mission to brighten the lives of these babies, makes me so unbelievably proud. God has a huge plan for both our girls, and I saw today that Africa has a lot to do with that plan.

It's all so overwhelming. And I am just so very thankful.

After lunch and bath time, it was nap time. We went to a separate room for some quiet time alone with Pearl, and Sassafras "read" her a book. At one point, she laid her head down on my shoulder and drifted off to dreamland. Oh, it was so amazing holding her in my arms and praising the Lord for bringing her into our lives! We laid her in her crib and ate a yummy lunch made of peas/squash/avocado/rice with the orphanage workers. The Captain especially enjoyed the moment when I was asking one of the workers if there was a name for this dish and she (sweetly) responded, "Um, just Peas and Rice." ;)

Meeting and talking with all of these orphanage workers was a huge blessing today. I have never taken lightly the fact that they have been working their tails off for the past year caring for so many little children, including my own! It is a testament to their love for her that she is so strong, healthy, and sweet. I had a few candid chats with some of them, hearing them talk of how much they loved her and how much they thank us for our love for Pearl. I asked a few of them if they were going to be sad when she left to go home with us. I told them we have been praying for them to not be sad when that time comes, and that they will know that we will love her and take very good care of her.

One of the mamas responded that yes, she would be sad, but that she viewed her work with these babies as the way one would in planting a garden. It is good and important work, and others would benefit from the fruits of her labor. She is a very wise woman, indeed. Another worker told me that he had prayed hard for Pearl to have good parents, and only two weeks later he found out she had been matched with someone. He says he will continue to pray for her. What a blessing these people were to us today!

What a day filled with so many blessings! It has been truly one of the most profound days of our lives. I think Sassafras has summed it up best. When we ask her what she thought about Pearl, or what she thought about today, just trying to help her process it, she responded with one word: "Beautiful." Well said, baby girl. It was a beautiful day indeed.