Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #77

A Year of Gratitude #77: Family Movie Night Tradition

If you do something more than once, it can be considered a tradition right? I'm taking it and running with it.

Today is Saturday, and just like last Saturday, we decided that tonight we'd order pizza and have Family Movie Night. It was another huge success!

We got a flyer in the mail today, advertising the grand opening of a Marco's Pizza! I couldn't believe my eyes. I grew up having Marco's Pizza at my Aunt Margie's house!!! When we'd stay the night at her house, she'd order from Marco's. My parents never ordered from there, because it wasn't close enough to deliver to our house. 

Anyway, we decided to give 'em a try. I will say that hands down, it was the best pizza that we've had since moving here (figures... it's from a MI place)!! We had less than 30 minutes before it arrived, and then we headed downstairs for dinner and a movie.

We decided to watch Being Elmo. It was so good! Gus liked seeing Elmo and the other Sesame Street characters, and I loved the background and story about the guy that is the puppeteer for Elmo. It was so very interesting.

After dinner, we let Gus watch a Leap Frog video about counting and then we headed upstairs for bed. It was an easy bedtime tonight... hopefully Gus sleeps well and doesn't wake until after 8am tomorrow.

I'm thankful for this new tradition in our house. Steve suggested that we invite PB over with his wife and three kids and include them on our Family Movie Night... I said I think that'd be fun. We'll see if we can make it happen.

I'm looking forward to our next Family Movie Night!!!

A Year of Gratitude #76

A Year of Gratitude #76: Open Adoption 

I know I've used Open Adoption as a thing to be grateful for before, but I had a situation arise and I was able to get some critical information, simply because of our open adoption.

Gus woke up with a bloody nose on Friday. I mean, his sheets were covered in blood, and there was blood all over his face and pajamas. It was scary, but not the first time that this has happened. I knew to look at his nose this time (last time I had no idea what was causing the blood) and saw that it was bloody.

We had not put the humidifier on for him and I think his room was just too dry. Anyway, I texted Steve and told him that Gus had a bloody nose again and that it was not thick, but like bloody snot, and was continuing. I said if it didn't stop, I'd have to call the doctor and take him in.

That being something that could happen, I decided that I should ask Peggi and Lisa about bloody noses running on either side of the family. I assumed a doctor would ask that question, so it was worth it for me to find out beforehand.

I am so thankful that I was able to send them both a text about it, and get an immediate answer about it. Yes, Gus has nose bleeds on BOTH sides of his family. Peggi suggested we put Vaseline in his nose... while Lisa suggested something not as familiar-- raw bacon up his nose. LOL.

Either way, Gus's nose stopped bleeding before napping at 2:00 and woke up without another bloody nose. He hasn't had a bloody nose since 1:00 Friday afternoon.

I'm thankful that we have such a great relationship with his side of our family and that I can just send a text to ask questions. If we didn't have an open adoption, that's the kind of thing that I'd have to just try and figure out on my own, and it'd be forever a mystery if he has nosebleeds in his genes.

Some people don't get open adoption... in fact, MANY don't. But I don't care about them... I'm so grateful that we have one and it makes getting questions answered so much easier. Both grandmas were grateful to hear that Gus was okay and both sent their love to Gus.

We are so lucky to have such a wonderful adoption.

A Year of Gratitude #75

A Year of Gratitude #75: Our Aquarium Passes

This year for Christmas, my mom and dad gave us annual passes for the Georgia Aquarium. Since Gus is free until he's three, we have a pass for me, and a guest pass for anyone who'd like to come with me. 

The entrance for the aquarium is like $25 per adult and that doesn't include the Dolphin Show (another $10). The annual pass was like $70 per adult so $140 total. I figure, we'd have to go to the aquarium at least six times to make it worth the money. We've gone twice, and this last time, we took a friend, so it would have cost $95 so far... 

We love the aquarium. It's been awesome to have somewhere to go when it's been cold, or rainy. Now that it's spring break time, it's super busy and once school gets out, will probably stay busy. We'll be able to go and enjoy the lack of a crowd again in September and October.

We took Aubree and Kathryn this past week and had a great time. Gus did really well with staying near me and not running off AT ALL. YAY GUS!! I'm thankful that he's a good listener and stayed close to me the whole time. He and Aubree had fun together and it was nice to have Kathryn there with me to talk to and enjoy the sights.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this trip:

I'm thankful that my parents gave us this wonderful gift, and we can go anytime we'd like and enjoy the aquarium.

A Year of Gratitude #74

A Year of Gratitude #74: Cuddle Days

Don't get me wrong... I love having a busy schedule and love having people to see and do things with. However, I absolutely love days that we don't have any plans. We still stick to a schedule, but our day is so much more relaxed and fun. 

I love the days where Gus gets up from his nap and we snuggle for a bit before I make us some popcorn to share while watching a movie. Gus doesn't sit still long enough to enjoy a movie, but he starts off in my lap and it makes me happy to have the snuggle time with him.

A friend of mine, when I first met her, told me to enjoy the times when Gus will let me hold him and cuddle with him, because her son refuses to let her cuddle/snuggle. I believe, he was probably close to Gus's current age (maybe a little older).

The thought scares me. I hate to think that there will be a time when Gus doesn't want to be held, cuddled, comforted, and loved on. I dread him getting older, yet I know it's inevitable. 

Everyone tells me that it just gets harder from here on out. Each day will get more and more challenging with the worst being the teen years. I hope they're wrong. I pray that Gus loves me and Steve throughout his youth, young adulthood, and adulthood. 

I have a former student who gives me hope. He is 17 and LOVES his mama. He's a cool kid, always has been, and his mom and dad are way too cool as well. I adore their entire family. Their son, while I'm sure he gets annoyed (as all teenagers do), is a good kid. No drinking or drugs, is a star swimmer, and a great student. He is my inspiration that not ALL kids grow up to hate their parents, rebel, or cause problems.

My mom and dad always used to say, "I hope you have a child just like you..." to us kids when we were younger. I'm praying that Gus IS just like me. I never skipped school, never did drugs or drank in HS, never hated my parents, and was an all-around good kid. Steve was the same way.

So while the future is unknown, I will continue to enjoy the days where all Gus and I have to do is play, laugh, eat, drink, nap, and enjoy being together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #35: Grandparents

OAR #35: The influence of, relationships with, and experiences of grandparents in open adoptions

I feel so fortunate that we have such an open adoption with Gus's side of our family. Gus and I were both born in Michigan, and our sides to our family live there (with the exception of my older brother... he lives in Arizona).

Steve's side lives in Indiana and Ohio. When we travel north for vacation, we are able to see all three sides of our family, and it's always been a high priority for us to make sure that anyone who wants to see Gus, gets to see him.
Grandpa and Grandma Walker with Gus

Because we live in the South, we don't see any of our family on a regular basis. We do see Steve's dad and Sue Ann more frequently, but it's because his dad is retired and doesn't have to worry about taking off work. Even with that, we only see them every couple of months or so. It's not what I'd call frequent.

We wanted an open adoption because we wanted to make sure that ALL members of the biological family have the ability to be part of Gus's life. We wanted to make sure that his birth parents were involved, but their parents, their siblings, and other family members are equally important to us.

Gus has his Gram and Pap (my parents), his Grandpa and Grandma Walker (Steve's dad and step-mom), and then Grammy and Grampy (birth mom's parents), Grandma and Grandpa S. (birth father's parents), and even has a great-grandma Marge (his birth mom's grandma)!! We're so lucky that not only does he have all these people who love him, but they are ACTIVE in his life!

Gus's great-grandma Marge sends him cards, gifts, books, and posts on his Facebook wall. She has been extremely supportive from the very start. We had just come home from the hospital with Gus (he was maybe two days old), and his Great Grandma Marge sent us THE NICEST email welcoming us into her life, telling us that she supported us completely, and she wanted us to know that if we needed anything, to just let her know. It was the more amazing way to start off our journey with open adoption.
Gus and his Great Grandma Marge :-)

Gus's Grampy sends me texts numerous times a week asking about Gus. If I send out a group text with pictures of Gus, he ALWAYS replies. ALWAYS. He reads Gus's blog and subscribes to our family website. He asks about Gus, sends me pictures of Gus's birth mom when she was just a baby and young girl, and has sent pictures of himself from when he was young. He is very open with us and REALLY cares about Gus. It's incredible.
Gus with Grammy and Grampy
Gus's Grammy also sends emails to Gus (I created an account just for family to send him emails-- he'll get to have them when he's older). She sends cards, gifts, and always replies to texts and pictures posted on Facebook. She also follows his blog and subscribes to our family website. I know that she loves him deeply and always looks forward to seeing him when we head north.

On his birth father's side, his aunts (birth father's sisters) are VERY involved, and so his his Grandma S. His Grandpa S. doesn't have my cell and I don't have his, so we don't share pics and texts with him... and he's not on Facebook. That being said, I'm sure his wife shares info with him. They are all very supportive and LOVE seeing pictures, texts, and Facebook updates.
Gus and Grandpa S.

Gus and Grandma S.
I think because we lived with my mom and dad for a month when Gus was just a baby, my parents have a special attachment to Gus. They absolutely adore him and think he's so amazing. I'm also their only daughter, so seeing me as a mom, after knowing all the pain we went through with infertility, has an added specialness to our situation. They have always been, and continue to be, very supportive.
Gram and Gus (my mom)

My favorite picture... <3  Gus and Pap (my dad)

Steve's dad and Sue Ann are also amazing. Gus is their first grandson and they LOVE to spoil him. Seriously. We love seeing them with him and we know how much joy he brings to their lives. 

I try to send pictures of Gus to all sides of our family at least once a week. I don't always hear back from anyone (other than Grampy), but I still put them out there. Until someone tells me to stop, I figure it's the least I can do.

I honestly think that because we're in a different state, all three sides of our family know that they see Gus equally. No one sees him more than anyone else, and all have an equal importance in our family. I think this helps everyone. If we lived closer and cut one side off, I could see how it'd be really upsetting, but since we don't, everyone celebrates all opportunities to see Gus.

We are so very fortunate to have the open adoption that we have. I believe it was all mapped out by God and has come together exactly as He wanted. We are just hoping that when it's time to adopt baby Walker #2, we can find a situation just as amazing as our first.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Year of Gratitude # 73

A Year of Gratitude #73: Photo Buddy

Have I told you about my new friend Kathryn? She's in my MOMS Club and she is absolutely wonderful. She is a year older than me, and has a little girl named Aubree who turned two in January.

Kathryn is a serious rock star. She and Aubree came over today for a playdate, and while she was here, I learned that she has an Emmy Award. Yes folks, a REAL Emmy! She got it for her writing... she wrote a piece about teachers. She's a former reporter and was an on-air news reporter. She has lived an incredible life and I'm fascinated to hear her stories.

She loves photography as much as I do and today, she brought her camera with her. I told her it'd be fun for her to take pictures of the kids and I'd take some and we could share. It's always neat to see how someone else views the world from behind their lens. I think the pictures are great. The lighting was a bit of an issue (it was not the perfect lighting scenario), but between the two of us, we got some great pictures.

Here are a few of my favs. 
I love the angle of this picture (Kathryn took this one)

The Baby Goldfish were a big hit today!

Aubree feeding a fish to a dinosaur

Aubree wanted to give Gus a hug

These are some of the pictures that I took:

I'm thankful to have a friend who loves taking pictures as much as I do! I've loved getting to know Kathryn and think she's a great person. She has helped me with planning MOMS Club activities and she's a lot of fun to be around. We're going to the Georgia Aquarium together on Thursday and then next Wednesday, she and I are taking the kids to the Atlanta Zoo and we're meeting Christy and the boys there.

Aubree is such a sweet little girl. She loves trains, cars, and dinosaurs. She and Gus get along great and both have very laid-back, easy-going personalities. We always have a good time when we're playing with them.

I'm thankful to have met Kathryn and Aubree!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #72

A Year of Gratitude #72: 2nd Birthday is Planned

I feel quite accomplished! I was able to get Gus's second birthday party planned! We will be having his party at Gymboree on Saturday, May 12! I picked one of the party favors that comes with the party package (we are going with the bubbles and bubble blower) and then I went onto Oriental Trading Company tonight and ordered the remaining party favors. 

He'll be having a train themed party, so I ordered train whistles for each child, as well as conductor hats (how cute is that), and bouncy balls that light up when they bounce. I figure, these things plus the bubbles and a balloon for each child should be a wonderful goodie bag.

We'll need to get a cake... or we might just do cupcakes (not 100% sure on that yet). There's a Domino's pizza right there, so we'll probably order a few pizzas (not to provide dinner for everyone, but a slice of pizza should be sufficient). I think it'll be a wonderful birthday party for Gus.

I ordered him a personalized birthday shirt from an awesome Etsy shop. It's a blue shirt with the number 2 on the front, the number 2 on the back and GUS written on the back. I think it's awesome.

When we head to MI, we'll be having a birthday party with Gus's side of our family on Saturday, May 19. Sharon has offered her lake house for us to use again, so that'll be a lot of fun.

On Sunday, May 20th, we'll be celebrating Gus's 2nd birthday along with Charlie's 1st birthday. We'll probably have it at a park. I've got some special friends in MI that we'll be inviting to that (Anne). I'm excited to be home and celebrate with family and friends!! Not sure yet if our IN family wants to do something special, but I'm sure if they do, we can make it happen!! Sue Ann loves to throw parties, so maybe we can get her to put something together for us and Steve can have Greta come over for it. We'll see...

I can't even begin to say how delighted I am that we have made some really incredible friends here. I credit this to joining the MOMS Club. My Monday playgroup is so awesome. I really enjoy going each week and I love that Gus loves his little friends. 

The move here was hard, but I am so thankful that we've adjusted as quickly as we have. We have a friend coming over tomorrow to play and then on Thursday we're going to the Aquarium. Next Wednesday, we'll be going to the zoo with some other friends and it should be a lot of fun.

I feel accomplished and happy, and so so incredibly grateful.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #71

A Year of Gratitude #71: Unexpected Visitors

Gus with his Great Aunt Sharon and cousin Olivia

Last night we got a call from Sharon, (Gus's birth mom's aunt) letting us know that she and Olivia were driving to Tampa from Michigan, and would be passing through Atlanta. She wanted to know if we were interested in meeting up in the morning for breakfast. To our delight, when we offered our home for them to stay the night with us, they accepted!!

Around 1:40 this morning, they arrived! It was so great to see them! We had not seen them since August. We got them settled into the guest suite in the basement and told them we'd see them in the morning!

With springing forward and losing an hour, Gus was up early and we all felt "off." Around 9ish, Sharon came up and was heading to the car to get some meds for Olivia. She got her first peek at Gus and was so excited to see him. He was excited to see her too. They played for a bit and then we went downstairs to see Olivia and play down there for a bit.
Gus and Sharon playing

We had a WONDERFUL visit with them and then headed out to IHOP for breakfast. Our breakfast was great and Gus spent a little bit of time on his Great Aunt Sharon's lap looking at her phone. It was such a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning! 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from their visit:
Mr. Wiggle-butt

Watching Gus


So cute

We headed to the cars and said our goodbyes. We told them that they're more than welcome to stay with us on their way back from FL... we'll see. It was so sweet to see them with Gus and made my heart swell to see how much joy Gus brings everyone.
Walking to the cars with Great Aunt Sharon and Daddy

:-(  Saying goodbye to Olivia

I adore this picture!! Gus saying goodbye to his Great Aunt Sharon

When we drove home, I said to Steve, "We have such a WONDERFUL adoption." It makes me so happy to know that with our open adoption, Gus's biological extended family gets to see him and know him (and us). I feel like we really expanded our family and it feels like we've known them for years. 

I know adoption isn't easy and open adoption can be so hard- but it's days like today, that make me so very proud to be apart of something so very special. I'm so grateful to know that Gus will grow up knowing his roots and will have connections to the people that matter most in life... our family.