Why You Should be Glad When You Have No Reason to Be

photo-119We’ve been extremely fortunate in our foster-to-adopt situation with Baby A.

More fortunate than most people.

In a few weeks the State will change Baby A’s permanency goal from reunification with her birth parents to adoption.

We’re hoping Baby A will officially be a Toy by Christmas, which is feasible as long as there are no surprises.

We also just found ourselves in a situation where we are ready to take in another baby if the State calls us. So we’re looking forward to an addition to our family of five (two dogs) in the next couple of months.

Right now, things can’t seem to get much better, but we recognize that things could change in a heartbeat, so we live with that reminder and walk cautiously, yet graciously.

We owe our happiness to God, for He has graciously provided us with Baby A after years of praying, waiting, crying, and longing for her. The wait was worth it.

I was not a good Christian during that waiting period. I grew resentful toward God, and even hated Him for not giving us a child when I wanted. But looking back, I can see that the timing was absolutely perfect.

I just wish that while we were waiting for a child that I had acted better. I wish I had prayed more and taken the opportunity to grow in my relationship with God.

So, if you’re in a waiting period, or things are difficult, or you’re at your wit’s end, or life just seems to be falling apart around you, I can’t promise that it will get better, but the odds are definitely in your favor.

Just don’t wait for things to get better and then praise God for what He’s done, because then you’ll end up like me and feel like a hypocrite (or something… I haven’t quite figured it out yet), and you’ll feel a little out of place when you do thank God for the turnaround in your life circumstances.

So even in your mourning and your crying and your despair, God is to be praised, so that when things do look up for you, you can confidently point to Him and say, “It’s because of Him that this happened,” and not feel so out of place.

Baby A. and Up

carl and ellieIn The Art of Up, Tim Hauser makes this thought-provoking observation:

Taken as a whole, Pixar’s films can be viewed as serialized chapters in a single life: from sibling rivalry, early attachment (Toy Story), and socialization (A Bug’s Life), to maturation (Monter’s Inc.), separation, and parenthood (Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo); from protecting the nuclear family (The Incredibles), shifting out of the fast lane (Cars), and rekindling passion (Ratatouille), to planning for future generations (WALL-E), and, finally, accepting death (Up). 

In the movie Up, Carl has his life set to a certain standard, and his goals are fixed without much room for interruption. But interruption knocks on his door (2,000 feet in the air) and presents itself. Throughout the story, Russell the boy slowly but surely wedges his  way into Carl’s heart. And slowly we begin to see the ideology of an adoption form. We learn that Russell is fatherless and Carl steps in as his surrogate father. But the only way for him to do that is by letting go of what’s closest to him.

I’m not like Carl in the sense that I always keep my word (or will die trying), but I do have many of his negative qualities. I’m stubborn and like to have things go my way. But with the arrival of our foster daughter a few months ago, I’ve had to rearrange my comfortable lifestyle a bit.

But I’m not the only one; anyone who’s a parent has had to do this. Parents learn how to watch less TV, get less sleep, and drop everything to assist the needs of the afflicted (or hungry).

And you know, giving all that up is worth it to see my little girl smile with satisfaction or joy just to see me.

I love stories like Up, because it reminds us what we’re living for. Not comfy chairs or waterfalls or prunes, but relationships, and love, and extending our family circle.

We’re so thankful for our rolling, laughing, giggling little girl. Her parents have been MIA these past several months so it looks like transitioning into the official adoption phase is inevitable and very near at hand.

Obviously Sarabeth and I are thrilled and can’t imagine a single a day without Baby A. in our lives. So yeah, she’s worth less sleep and dirty diapers. To us, she’s worth everything in the whole world.

A Boy and His Tiger

squeezitIf you were a child of the 80s or 90s, many different things sum up your childhood.

Things like pigs and slammers, Squeezits, Raven’s Revenge, Rugrats, and Steve Urkel’s cloning machine.

To know these things is to be a part of a club, a very special and inclusive club. I say inclusive because most of us are now trying to introduce our won kids to dumbour generation’s favorites. The 80s and 90s are hard to let go of. Just look at all the reboots in Hollywood: the anticipated Dumb and Dumber To, to name one.

And on TV: Girl Meets World, Fargo, an upcoming Saved by the Bell movie.

Judy Bloom and Goosebumps are constantly getting makeovers. Ariel goosebumpsis still the most idolized princess in the Disney realm, and I would bet most kids could sing the Fresh Prince theme song.

But there’s one piece of nostalgic lore that holds a special place in all of our hearts. They were a couple of misfits, one a figment of the other’s imagination. They both had stripes, one with two feet, the other with four and a tail. They both loved adventure and sledding in the snow and building fortresses and people-eating snowmen.

Do the words Get Rid OSlimy Girlbring back any memories?

What about the adventures of Stupendous Man?

Or the third-grade teacher, who was everyone’s teacher, Mrs. Wormwood?

When you opened the newspaper on Sunday mornings you could find yourself in outer space SpacemanSpiff_Smallwith Spaceman Spiff or be caught up in a game of Calvinball. Or you might be turning a cardboard box into a “Cerebral Enhance 0-Tron.”

The possibilities were always endless with Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip about a young boy and his stuffed tiger.

I remember the day it was announced that Bill Watterson would be drawing his last comic strip, and it was devastating, like the day John candyCandy died or I first heard the word “terrorist” in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Everyone had to have their dosage of Calvin and Hobbes. And if you return to them today, they’re just as endearing, hysterical, and thought-provoking as they were then.

There’s a documentary on Netflix instant watch called Dear Mr. Watterson posterwhere the filmmaker attempts to track down the beloved creator and mastermind of the comic strip.

My favorite thing about the film is that it showcases the impact Calvin and Hobbes had on the world, and continues to today. Our generation of readers are faithfully passing down Watterson’s legacy to our own kids, and I’ll certainly be sharing my collection with our daughter when she’s older.

What kind of impact did Calvin and Hobbes have on you as a kid?

 

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Calvin and Hobbes in Snow

 

Baby Music

If you have a baby or have raised one, you know the importance of music. And in this day and age, the importance of apps designed to lull your fussy babies to sleep.

We play a lot of Disney music for Baby A., but that can get kind of old after a while.

Neither Sarabeth nor I are into VeggieTales, and I like all the old hokey country children’s songs like “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “You Are My Sunshine,” but Sarabeth doesn’t, so I can only play that sparingly.

Anyway, I want to start a discussion where you all share your favorite children’s songs and music. Please indicate whether they’re songs for playtime or for bedtime. Also, some good Bible songs would be good, too.

Here’s a few of my favorites so far.

For Playtime

Raffi_-_Baby_Beluga_cover_artRaffi – Far as I can tell, this guy wrote “Baby Beluga” (come on, who doesn’t like that song?). He’s got a couple of CDs up on iTunes and I’ve picked a few songs to go on Baby A.’s playlist.

Disney Pixar CD SOundtrack createstDisney/Pixar’s Greatest Hits - The great thing about this CD is that it’s just plain awesome for everyone. Plus, most of it is Randy Newman music, and you can’t go wrong, there!

julie-fowlis-1Julie Fowlis - I don’t speak Scottish, and most likely Baby A. isn’t going to either, but she’s certainly going to have an appreciation for foreign music. Julie Fowlis isn’t a children’s singer, but she sang all those enchanting songs in Brave, and it turns out, the rest of her CD’s are just gorgeous and very soothing. A great play/sleep transition.

For Bedtime

sound sleeperSound Sleeper app - This app has been a lifesaver for us and I believe has gained us a few extra minutes of sleep. You can set the sound to play “Rain” or “Ocean waves” or a few other soothing settings. And yes, including “Womb.”

A_Beautiful_Mind_cdA Beautiful Mind soundtrack - If you can only handle so much Baby Einstein, the great composer Howard Shore is the way to go.

finding neverlandFinding Neverland soundtrack - The only soundtrack that’s better than A Beautiful Mind

shireShire music - Because I want to prepare her for the greatest epic adventure of her life. And really, our little girl is still in the Shire of her own life.

The Best Father’s Day Movies

Father’s Day is coming up. The holiday holds true for many people in different walks of life. Maybe you’re still living with your father, or you’re far away from him. Maybe your father died. Perhaps, even, you’re a father yourself now, as this will be my first Father’s Day as a dad. As you well know, there are many movies about father/child relationships. I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite movies about dads and their relationship with their kids.

After all, if you’re struggling with planning the perfect Father’s Day, keep in mind that sometimes the best thing a father can have is a couch, a box of pizza, and a movie.

Big-Fish-movie-poster

Big Fish - This may be my favorite Tim Burton movie; it’s a bit weird, but not at all creepy. It’s the story of a grown son trying to put together his dad’s fabrications of life in the truest sense.

Best line: “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

bill cosby

Bill Cosby, Himself - This is a hysterical standup done by Bill Cosby. As engaging as any 90-minute movie, and funnier than most comedies I’ve seen. Cosby takes the audience on a whirlwind adventure from dating to marriage to childbirth to kicking the kids out of the house. It’s impossible not to crack up, especially if you’ve “been there.”

Best line: “We [parentes] don’t want justice. We want quiet!” 

dan_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85Dan in Real Life - A sweet movie about a widowed father trying to raise his three daughters while visiting the extended family. Steve Carrell shows a bit of his serious/charming side in this one.

Best line: “Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability.”

despicalbe meDespicable Me - Another Steve Carrell favorite, more on the silly side. Despicable Me is considered, in our house, to be nearly as good as a Pixar movie. Maybe it’s the whole adoption thing we like so much. After all, three adorable girls can soften even the hardest of hearts, right?

Best line: “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” (That was for you, Sarabeth)

fiddler on roofFiddler on the Roof - And while we’re talking about movies with dads raising three daughters, I’ll throw in this gem. What man can’t relate to Tevye, who just wants a little more money, who just wants to keep his wife’s affections, and who just wants to keep his daughters at home? I’ll admit, as funny as this movie can be, some scenes are pretty tough to get through, especially if you have daughters of your own.

Best line: [To God] “If money is a curse, then smite me with it!”

MSDFAOF EC079Father of the Bride - If you haven’t seen this a million times already… I just don’t know what to say to you.

Best line: “This was the moment I’d been dreading for the past six months. Well, actually for the past 22 years.”

finding nemoFinding Nemo - Search the entire ocean to find my lost son? No problem. Letting him grow up… eh, not so easy.

Best line: “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

GoofyMovieA Goofy Movie - You know, I’ve met some people who didn’t like Lord of the Rings (they’re not my friends). I’ve also heard of some people not liking pizza. But I have never heard of anybody – ever – not liking A Goofy Movie. My dad, in fact, would sit and watch this with me growing up, and getting him to watch any cartoon was like pulling teeth. Yeah, this is the ultimate Father’s Day movie.

Best line: Goofy: “You look just like I did at your age.” Max: “Please don’t say that, Dad.”

mrs-doubtfireMrs. Doubtfire - Dress up as a woman to see your kids everyday? Er, um, sure thing. I think most dads would get this. Robin Williams at his absolute best here. (BTW, they’re working on a sequel… what do you think about that?)

Best line: “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flashes.”

parenthoodParenthood - Another Steve Martin favorite and directed by Ron Howard (what a pair, huh?). This is the movie that inspired NBC’s awesome show Parenthood. Just a good flick about how parenthood never ever ends – and there’s never a break. (Ironically, don’t watch this with the kids around.)

Best line: Karen: “Do you really have to go?” Gil: “My whole life is have to.”

shrek-forever-afterShrek Forever After - In an effort to erase the deplorable Shrek the Third from existence, Dreamworks puts together a valiant effort in this fourth installment. Shrek is in over his head with this whole fatherhood thing, and he gets his wish to have everything back the way it was before he got married.

Best line: “Are my kids cute or do they make people uncomfortable?” 

What are your favorite movies about fathers? List ‘em bellow, I’d love to hear them!

 

Foster-to-Adopt Update

baby-toes-400jd080509I know many of you follow my blog for different reasons, one of which is to follow our foster-to-adopt story. We’re thrilled that Baby A. will be 5 months old shortly, and are having so much fun watching her learn and grow and discover the world–even if it’s just her toes!

My wife wrote a very nice post summing up our update. Please take a moment to read it on her blog, here.

Big Week For Baby A

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So last week our foster daughter and Sarabeth went to Florida to visit her family. According to Sarabeth, our little girl did wonderful on the airplane, so if you’re stuck on a plane with a crying baby and an overwhelmed mother, you can bet it’s not my wife or daughter.

Well, Baby A did two things this week which I’m thankful she didn’t do in Florida while I was at home here in Kentucky.

Two days ago, Sarabeth was holding Baby A and the dachshunds began licking her feet and Baby A just laughed, and laughed. Part of me thinks she began laughing so hard because she figured out that she could laugh! Probably one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard.

And this morning, just moments ago, Baby A rolled over. First onto her belly then onto her back.

Needless to say, Sarabeth and I are very proud. In fact, after I write this post, I’m going to probably start drafting up her college resume.

Baby A, proficient at giggling and rolling over. My aspirations include being an attentive audience member at local comedy clubs and teaching fire drills (“stop, drop, and rooollllll”).

On the grand scheme of things, I’m sure these aren’t really big happenings. I’m sure back in colonial times it was like, “Look Pa, Junior just took his first step.”

“‘Bout dog-gone time. Hand him that there pile of wood and he can take it out back and chop it for the fire.”

But then, is it such a big deal when we do the things we do? Like, get a job, or pass an important exam, or earn one of those Fortune 500 Company jackets? To us, those are pretty significant deals.

But I wonder what God thinks. After all, have you ever created an entire cosmos? Have you ever begotten a living creature (or made one out of the dust)? Have you ever walked on water unassisted, or calmed a storm, or healed a blind man with mud?

Yet, God is pleased with us. Just like Sarabeth and I are pleased with our daughter for the littlest of things (but mostly for going to sleep!) – things that we’ve been doing ourselves for 30-plus years. Things that human beings all over the globe, all across the span of time have been mastering since the Garden.

All of Heaven rejoices when we enter into adoption by God as His child. A great cloud of witnesses hangs over the mist to marvel at our spiritual accomplishments and cheer us on to further endeavors, challenges those ghosts have likely bested while they were like us.

So, yeah. I’m pretty proud of my little girl. But then again, I’d be just as proud if she never rolled over.

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