Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet Emily Howell

Here she is. She is such a beautiful, wonderful daughter and I am so blessed she's mine. forever. She has a new name and what I hope to be a newfound stability in her life. 
We went to court last week to finalize our adoption. We were thankful people we love came to celebrate. A few went to the courthouse and most went to our house for Emily's cupcake party she's been planning since March.

We had one our hardest weeks leading up to our court date in regards to behavior and discipline. She was definitely stressed about this transition. I know she loves us and loves being here, but she was hopeful she'd get to live with her old family once again. So she pushed the limits this week. Maybe she was wondering if she'd drive us crazy enough if we wouldn't adopt her forever. Maybe we wouldn't want to be her parents anymore. It breaks my heart to think about what she was going through. Sorry, sweet daughter, you will never get rid of us. We will never go away. Start accepting that now.

I often joke with Emily about how I love her too much and will never allow her to move out of the house. She will have to get married and live in her bedroom with her new husband. If they have babies, the baby will have to live in her bedroom with them. We recently decided that she could move in next door instead of having to live in our house. That way she'd have extra room for her children. It sounds silly but it's also hard to explain forever. I will always be your mom. Even when you are grown, it's me. You will always come home to us for money and safety and advice. I want her to know that.

 Her adoption day was very different than Lucy's. Emily was nervous. The judge talked to her and she had to answer. Her nerves were evident as she sat next to me. She would fidget and put her head on the table in front of her. As the judge was talking I began to cry. I cried because I know my sweet girl was suffering a loss. I cried because I gained my daughter forever. I cried because the week before was so hard for everyone in this house and I was just tired and felt like I wasn't sure what to do. I cried because I was so full of joy that God would bless me to be this girl's mother.

When it was over I stood and hugged her. She said, "It's ok, mama!" She was worried about me crying. Sweet, sweet girl. 

We have had wonderful days since the finalization. She has been calm and grounded. We have been praying security for her and God has answered that prayer every day. We even got to visit with her birth family yesterday and she was fine after seeing them. She was happy to see them and enjoyed spending time showing off her school skills she's been working hard on. She wasn't sad, just happy she got to see them.

I'm pretty sure Lucy said, "sissy" for the first time yesterday as she looked at her sister. Sweet ending to a sweet week. God is so good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


School has been....

good, hard, a source of anxiety, a Godsend, tiring, an escape, fill in the blank. 

Emily has come home every day since it started last week and said that it was great. The first 3 days we heard nothing but wonderful stories and had our little girl bursting with excitement about telling us each event she could recall. It wasn't until last Wednesday night that she told us she had been crying at school each day. My heart broke. It cried for my hurting daughter and rejoiced because she was crying for us. She longed to be home. with us. 

This is a milestone to celebrate. She has been living with us since March and there were periods of her feeling like a visitor. She's refer to things in the house as "daddy's" or "mommy's" but not really "ours" where it includes her. The car was always "mommy's" and not just our car. I'd often remind her that what is ours is hers. When we say "ours" it means all of ours. She now appropriately rifles through drawers, cupboards, and the like. It feels good to see her explore our space. 

With those feelings of being a visitor, she strongly held onto her birth family. She'd talk about them a lot and ask a lot questions. She would tell us she would like to go live with them. She'd never be rude about it, but she was grieving and hoping. With our court date approaching next week and the many conversations that she is here forever and will never go back to the places she's known best, I think she's getting it. She's always known, but she'd held out hope. 

School has been an avenue to have new experiences and, therefore, more conversations about things that go on inside her head about her life. It has been another transition for all of us. I keep wondering when our lives will stay in one place for long enough to breath. Transitions can be great, but a moment of rest is what I truly desire. 

School has been great for Emily, but hard at the same time. She is at another school. This girl went to way too many schools last year alone. She has no idea what it feels like to be settled and to make lasting friendships with peers from school. She doesn't really know what it's like to be with one teacher for the whole school year. These things feel exciting and yet scary too. 

When she told us about her crying at school we were able to process some of these things with her. We were able to tell her that she's here for the long haul. She'd go to her school for years with a lot of the same people. She was able to tell us that she was scared she would have to leave. Broken heart again. I hate that my little girl is going through these emotions and we don't even know about it most of the time. I just keep reminding myself it's just a transition and she will settle into school and all will be well in the world. Then will move onto that next transition that is waiting around the corner for us. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

back to school

This year is the first year that I am not the one going back to school. It has been a bittersweet transition saying goodbye to teaching for now. We finished the summer by taking the girls to see Ice Age 8 and drove past my old school on the way home. I found myself feeling really glad that I wasn't at work that day, but really sad that I wasn't there too. I guess that's a good sign. I know that teaching was and is something that suits me. Good luck to all my CV teacher friends. I hope they have a wonderful year!

Today marks Emily's first day of first grade. Now we know she's on her way! (If you have taught 1st grade with me then you will read that to the right rhythm and think about your day today.) No, really. Emily is a first grader. She has been so ready for today. She has talked about it all summer long. She was anticipating and stressing over going to a new school and starting over AGAIN! She had a really good attitude about it though and I'm so proud of her willingness to go with the flow and start new.

Here is her cheesy, back to school, first day photo. These pics aren't great. We were getting ready to walk and we were a few minutes behind schedule. Oh well.

She has known for weeks now that she would wear this dress on her first day of school. It was part of her back to school clothes we got recently. We just ordered some things and had them come right to my front door. Sanity... who cares if it's a bit big, she'll grow. She likes this dress, but the thing that really made it stand out from all the other things she got was the presentation. I told her that daddy picked this out for her. She was done. She needed to hear no more. She is in love with this dress.

If you want to know the real story. I showed him two dresses and said, "pick one." Then he pointed and then I purchased. Her view of his involvement in the dress is somewhat skewed. That's ok, he can take all the credit. I flashed back a little bit to the donut moment where somehow he stole my thunder. She adores him.

Even though she was so excited about school her nerves definitely hit when we got to the door. Cam said she started squeezing his hand tightly as we walked up. I noticed her nerves when I was kissing her goodbye as she was in her seat. I whispered, "Are you ok? Are you nervous?" She whispered a very big, "Yes." I kissed her and didn't want to leave her there. I knew she'd be fine. I knew this from a teacher perspective and also from knowing her bubbly personality. Something inside me though was aching and burning. I even asked Cam if I should just go back in and check on her. (I didn't realize that I was that crazy mom that can't let go. I guess I learned some things today too.) I didn't want her out of my sight for that long. She's been with me all.summer.long. Every day, every night together.

I picked her up today and she had so much fun. She had art today, a fave of hers. She told me the millions of details of the playground and what she did during recess. She told me all about the little girl that was crying for her mom. She told me about books they read today that also has on her bookshelf at home- so cool! I got the first grade scoop.

It's going to be a great year. I know it. This little one is going to learn so much.

Friday, August 3, 2012

giggles and squeals

Emily is having her first sleepover since she's been ours. Her best bud is over and I've spent the past few hours listening to them giggle, squeal, boss each other around, and say that they want to be ever single fairy that comes on the screen while watching Tinkerbell. Being a girl is so complicated. You have to want to be everyone that has a pretty dress on. I guess some things never change. Girls watch movies and always want to dress like the girls they admire. It's just funny how early it starts. 

Gotta love a girly sleepover. When they were putting on jammies to have their movie night, her bud pulled out the same pair of jammies that Emily wears all the time. Oh, the squeals... TWINS! From that point on they had to both have a blanket, the same number and size of stuffed animals, and everything they did had to be the same. They are having a blast and I've gotten some cleaning and blogging done. Bonus for everyone! 

Tonight is a perfect end to Emily's summer. She starts school on Monday and it's back to the routine of things. I think we are all craving the predictability and routine of it. I think it will be a good change. She is very excited to start 1st grade this year and we know it will be a good one. We got to go and meet her new teacher and we are so happy! She is fun and energetic and comes with a high recommendation from a friend in admin. Emily remembered her name right away (a tricky task for her), so that shows you how ready she is. We are counting down days until she gets to go. Don't worry, she has known what she wants to wear for over a week already. I know you were worried about it, but don't. Emily already worried about it and it's taken care of. It's the important things in life, people!