Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thank You Notes

This post is dedicated to all of us who are just barely hanging on by a thread in these last few weeks before summer.

Cue Jimmy Fallon Music...

Thank you, Teacher Appreciation Week. You are timed just so perfectly between spring break and summer vacation that weary teachers everywhere just might find the strength to carry on three more weeks. Bikini season be damned. You are worth every calorie.

Thank you, Peppa Pig. Your cute British accent, mischievous antics, and grossly overweight (and slightly arrogant, I might add) father keep both of my children entertained for just long enough that restroom breaks and Instagram skimming can be done in peace. Bless you. You, my friend, are a gift to mothers everywhere. And as a bonus, thank you for teaching our children to use ridiculously cute words like rubbish, a bit, and petrol. (Why yes, Kate, your back-talking WAS just "a bit" funny.)

Thank you, Jen Hatmaker, for letting the moms off the hook for slacking educationally during the months of April and May. As I entered the preschool today, I realized I had not only forgotten my son's towel for "beach day," but I had also forgotten his extra set of clothes AND I was informed that I was delinquent on supply fees and tuition forms for next year. (Keep in mind...this preschool is also my PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT.) Did I sweat it or feel the slightest guilt? NOPE. Because Jen Hatmaker is a terrible end-of-school-year parent, and she says you can STOP YELLING AT ME. You just wait until August, dear teachers. We will be ALL. OVER. IT.

Thank you, Lunchables. Your overly processed and slightly damp meat, stale crackers, and not-even-kinda-cheese cheese make mornings slightly tolerable. Throw one of those suckers in with a pouch of applesauce and yogurt tube, and we are out of the door. Four food groups baby, BAM! I tip my hat to you and beg for the pediatrician's forgiveness.

Thank you, search-for-the-perfect-rescue-puppy, for distracting me from the fact that we are 11 weeks in to a supposedly "3 months or less" wait for our adoption referral. I'm not at ALL nervous/anxious/eager/excited every time my phone rings these days. I'm not even KIND OF thinking about the fact that we could see our child's face any day. And I'm definitely NOT counting the days (76) since our dossier went to China.

Nope, instead, I'm dying inside and oohing and aahing looking at faces like this girl and emailing ALL THE RESCUE GROUPS. Yep, that sweet face is probably the newest addition to our little clan here in a few weeks. China hasn't given me a baby yet, and I have this crazy/neurotic/might-need-a-little-therapy need to have something warm and snugly in my life that DOESN'T TALK BACK. So, blog world, meet Abby. :) We promise to train her to eat food off the floor, jump on the UPS man, and clean Kate's booster seat after dinner...Ezells earn their keep, people.

Here's to the home stretch. Summer is in sight. Have a great weekend, friends!
Monday, April 18, 2016

The April Rain...

You know that old saying, "April showers bring May flowers?" I've been thinking a lot about it lately. We've had quite a bit of physical rain here in Texas over the last several weeks, and our family has also seen a lot of emotional rain so far this month as well. 

As I posted a few weeks ago, the last few days of March were hard. SO HARD. We got the referral call we'd been praying about for over a year, and then within a few hours, we were crushed to learn that the precious boy we had learned about was not meant to be ours due to a clerical error. He was too old for us, and that was crushing. 

Was it the right decision to pass on this little boy's file? Yes. I don't doubt that, in the grand scheme of our life, this was the right decision. Adopting a little boy just three months younger than Kate was not in the best interest of our family. I know this logically. She needs to be the big sister, and the social worker agreed. But my heart hurts, and his precious face has haunted me for the last three weeks. How much longer will this boy have to wait for his forever family to claim him? He deserves every good thing the world has to offer, and yet, we had to say no. And that's hard. 

The rain is still falling.

The very next morning, April 1, a new storm began. Our precious Boston Terrier, Emma, jumped up into bed with me first thing in the morning like she always does and cried out in pain. She has thrown her neck out a few times in the last few years, so this wasn't highly unusual. She has always recovered after 48-72 hours of crate rest with a little pain medicine, so I wasn't too worried just yet. She wouldn't eat or drink the whole day Friday, so I took her in to the vet on Saturday concerned about dehydration. They gave her some fluids, prescribed steroids, and I assumed she'd be back to her normal self by Monday. No biggie, right?

Well, the April rain wasn't quite over yet.

Over the next ten days, Emma continued to decline. She would show signs of improvement for a few minutes, and then she'd be back in pain. As her steroids began to run out and she had no consistent improvement, I began to get worried. I called the vet to see if we could extend her round of steroids, and she hesitantly said yes, but she emphasized that Emma may need to see a neurologist and potentially decompression surgery if more time didn't correct this. 

By the second week of April, our precious girl was just in complete and utter agony, and she began to show signs of giving up. She didn't want to come out of her crate anymore, she refused all food and water because chewing and swallowing became so painful, and the reality that we might be losing her began to sink in. I cried my eyes out for the next 48 hours and hesitantly posted a prayer request on my Facebook page. I knew my husband and I were not excited about the financial and emotional toll putting her through neurosurgery would take, but I hesitantly called the specialist to see if they could see her. I was devastated to learn that their first available appointment was not for six days. I took it, but at that moment, I knew in my heart that she would not be around for that appointment.

I called our regular vet back and asked if I could bring her in that afternoon to discuss our options and see just how dehydrated and weak she really was. We went in at 3:30 that afternoon, and the vet's face dropped as he entered the room. I knew right away that this wasn't going to end well. He was too nervous to even give her a full exam because she was shaking in pain and had lost the ability to control her legs. He said in all his years working as a vet he had never seen a spinal cord as compressed as our precious Emma's was. On a scale of 1-10, he rated her pain level at a 10+ and took her back to the back to see if she could walk and eat anything. We discussed our options a little more, and he basically advised me that he wasn't even sure a neurologist could fully correct Emma's spine. We made the gut-wrenching decision to go ahead and take away her pain, and we tearfully all said goodbye to our precious Emma girl at 4:15pm that afternoon.

At this point, it was just pouring on me.

Emma was a college graduation gift I gave myself nine years ago.  She was my partner-in-crime, room mate, protector, and shadow for nearly a decade. I don't really know how to exist without her, and my heart is breaking every day when the realization comes back that she is no longer here. Dogs have such a funny way of finding their way into the deepest and most special parts of our hearts, and there is just such a void in our house without her. I truly had no idea just how attached I was to her until she was gone.

So, we're in a rainy season around our house - physically, emotionally, and, honestly, a little bit spiritually. It's been hard for me to lift my hands and give thanks and praise the One who is walking me through a season of hard. I want a referral that fits our family. I want to see our son's face. I want my dog back. But, that's not the season we are in. God has said a lot of "no" this month so far, and that, well, sucks.

But I realized I have two choices. I can allow myself to get drenched in the rain and wallow in it, or I can remember what comes next. The rainbow. The blooming. May flowers. Whatever adage you choose, the rain always has a purpose. The rain creates the rainbow. The April showers bring the beauty of the May flowers.

The refining of the rain creates the beauty of the rainbow.

I don't know why God caused all of this rain to happen in April so far. I don't understand why we had to be sent a referral that wasn't actually a match for our family. I don't know why He chose to take Emma from us at just 9 years old. I'm not privy to any of that knowledge, and there are days when that absolutely sucks. I'm sorry, but there's just no other word for it. It sucks. It's okay to say that.

One day, I have no doubt that I'll look back at this rainy season and understand it all. I will "get it" one day soon. But today? Today, I'm going to feel the rain and understand that it has purpose. God doesn't lead us through trials because He likes to see us in pain. He leads us through trials to refocus our hearts and minds on Him and His purpose for us.

So, today, I'm feeling the rain. Are you in a rainy season? What purpose do you think it might be serving for you? Leave me a comment!

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Whirlwind 24 Hours...

Yesterday, we did something we hoped and prayed we would never have to do.

After lots of confusion, conversation, and prayer, we declined our first referral.

We got the call Wednesday afternoon. It had been a really rough day up until that point. I wasn't feeling well, Kate was being difficult, and we had very little on the calendar that day which always leaves me frazzled. (I'm not the most spontaneous person...)

At 3:45 that afternoon, the call I'd been waiting and praying months for came in. I saw an unknown number with "Eugene, OR" underneath it, and I immediately knew what it was. I began to shake, and adrenaline took over. My kids were hanging on me, arguing, and driving me crazy, so I quickly turned on Nick Jr. and hid in the closet to answer. (Whatever it takes, y'all.) Naturally, Blake was in a meeting, so it was just me and our agency director talking about this boy.

My heart sank a little bit when I learned he was just slightly older than we had originally planned on and that he had a medical need we were not originally considering, but I agreed to look at this little boy's file and talk it over with my husband and our pediatrician. 

Well, we never really got to the pediatrician part.

That night, my husband and I opened the photos in the file and quickly realized this boy was older than the 19 months we were told he was on the phone. We then dove into his social history and realized the dates when he had been found and admitted to his orphanage could not possibly be accurate given his birth date. We got back on the phone immediately with our agency, and they were equally confused. She told us to sit tight as she clarified these issues with the orphanage, and we continued to look at his pictures and discuss his needs.

Because my husband knows me so well and has learned when I need to take a break, he sent me to Target after the kids went to bed "to clear my head." He only asked that I just keep the bill to under $100...which, let's just be real, is impossible. ;) After a little retail therapy, I found myself driving around afterward with some praise music on, just thinking about this boy and how our life would look with him in it. I thought about Kate and how she wouldn't really get the chance to the "big" sister, as the child in the file is already her size. (Bless it.) I thought about his medical need and all the uncertainty there. I thought about this baby's beautiful almond eyes and his tiny little nose and how he so desperately deserved a mom and dad who would shower him with hugs and kisses. I was horribly torn. 

When I got home, Blake and I talked some more, and although we were leaning toward declining simply based on the confusion in the file, we agreed to hear what the agency learned before giving them an answer. 

The agency director called us yesterday morning and confirmed our suspicions - this boy was already 2 1/2 and his birth date was, in fact, wrong. We were not approved for a child his age, so the decision was essentially made for us. Although we are disappointed, we are so thankful that the decision was so clear, and we have peace about it.

We are heartbroken that we had to say no to this precious boy, but we have no doubt that his forever family will find him soon. He was not meant to be our son, and we continue to wait to see our baby's face. We cannot wait for the day when we can shout from the rooftops that we have a boy waiting for us in China, and we continue to look even more forward to the day we have him in our arms.

Thanks for continuing to journey this process with continues to be a wild ride.

Happy Weekend, friends!
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