Thursday, November 21, 2013

Welcome to our frat house.

****Not sure why this posted again!

My posts have felt a little somber lately. The last few posts have been soap-boxy bulletin boards. Time for a quick scrapbook moment for my boys. Ya know, in case Facebook implodes one day and I lose all my documentation of their childhood. I should warn you, I'm a serial facebooker. And Instagrammer. But I'm most embarrassed to say my last kid-themed-status-update-update was July of '12. I'm not going to copy the last year and a half's here but I'll at least give ya the last few months...

****EDITED TO ADD**** I started with just the last couple months but was having so much fun revisiting our crazy that I kept going. Whatever. It's my party and I'll blog if I want to, blog if I want to, blog if I want to. This post is more for Dez and Eliot to revisit in 20 years. All that to say, it's long but if you're bored, have at it.

A few posts:

*E: Mom, I want strong muscles like Michael Phelps, do you?
Me: Yep, that's why I was exercising yesterday.
E: Uh, mom, didn't work.

*Every time we get in the car Eliot yells, "My biscuits are burnin'!"

*Nothing says " road trip with a six yr old" like Hey Mom, I bet I can count to 10, 000! 1, 2, 3...

*Russ to E, getting in the car with half an ice cream cone: Eliot, are you really going to finish all of that?
Eliot: Dude, I'm gonna kill it.

*Me: El, for snack do you want a banana?
El: Sure, what kind do you have?

*It might just be easier to put all the kitchen cabinet contents into Dez's toy baskets and his toys into the cabinets.

*Dear teachers, if Eliot's "how I spent my summer vacation" essay includes watching YouTube videos on "how to cornrow" that *might* be my fault.

*Me: Eliot, you need to *blah blah blah*
Eliot: Whatever you say, Mom
Me: Um..what?
Eliot: Whatever you awesome?

*Something I never imagined saying as a parent: "Stop running hot wheels through your brother's fro."

*I know I shouldn't refer to my child as my antagonist but what else do you call someone who constantly follows you around undoing what you just did. And don't say "a toddler" because then I'm forced to reply, "touche!" and I hate saying that.

*"Mom, booty is a noun" #firstgradeFTW

*That moment when you mistakingly reprimand your son for calling you a "cougar" when he actually called you a "cool girl".

*That moment when you find yourself cleaning up diarrhea from two children while listening to The Chipmunks sing Christmas songs in Spanish. Yeah, that moment.

*Every time we ask Eliot to do something he says, "No comprendo." Well played, Guatemalan, well played.

*Something I didn't anticipate with the multi- age classroom: Eliot's sudden interest in third grade girls.

*20 (ish) teeth by 2 years old? It's going to be a long 6 months...#only4teethat18months

*While letting a-very-excited-to-vote Eliot push the buttons on electronic ballot, the next guy in line interrupted us:
Guy: excuse me, mam, can you stop letting your child help you? I'm in a hurry.
Me: I'm sorry sir, what's the problem?
Guy: I'm in a hurry and you're taking too long in letting your kid help you.
Me: Sir, that's not my problem. If you aren't happy with the way I'm voting, there's other booths. This moment is important for my son and frankly, what's taking so long is this conversation.

*Dez trying to throw a fit while also having the hiccups might be the best thing about my day.

*Dez just did something he knew was wrong and immediately put his hand out for Eliot to give him a high five. Help.

*Well, it only took 18 months but the fro got caught in the nose ring. #occupationalhazard

*Eliot asked to go to Thousand Island tonight. It's worth looking into... #mayansknowaboutstuff

*Dear Leapfrog, you know you've done your job well when I ask my 18 month old what a frog says and he responds by trying to sing the ABCs.

*2 Eliot stories for you:
1. "Mom, I had a dream that I played drums that were ON FIRE! But no worries, I was so safe."
2. (Guy on the radio): "he got the punch line wrong."

*Eliot mentioned we only have a half day today. I'm assuming he means at school but consider this your warning if he meant otherwise. #apocalypse

*Free PSA for you and yours this holiday season: if your "Elf" dyed both gallons of milk with food coloring days ago, your toddler's diaper deposits *might* be color themed until previously mentioned milk runs out. No need to call the pediatrician.

*I guess day 4 of the same outfit confirms Eliot likes his new clothes we gave him for Christmas.

*Additional note to self: Desmond's hair should be kept far away from large Velcro strips. #thathurt

*While in the car:
Eliot: Mom! That house has a bright red light in front!
Me: Mmm, yes, it sure does.
Eliot: We should get a bright red light for our house!
Me:, we probably won't do that.
Eliot: How come?
Me:'s just a little confusing for people...

*My kids have no sledding endurance. #parentfail #globalwarmingfail

*Dez has a bug of some sort and has now started saying "boo boo" whenever he chucks. It's endearing, really.

*Days spent along side a toddler with a stomach bug are like living with a mobile land mine. A land mine who wants to cuddle.

*E just told me you have to lose a tooth before you can go to second grade. Man, the standards are rough these days.

*At 21 months Dez just cut his 4th "one-year molar". That means he should cut his "two-year molars" by the time he's in preschool? Egad.

*Eliot quote of the morning: (walking into the dining room where we're enjoying breakfast) "which one of you slobs is going to get dressed and take me to school?"

*You know your new experiment with the pancakes was successful when Dez insists on calling them "Good Guys" as he devours his fourth...#secretingredient

*Remember that time Dez was sitting on the sled at the top of the stairs? -- Russ Mohr #heartattack

*The swim coach asked all the boys where their favorite place to vacation spot was. One kid said Lake of the Ozarks. Eliot answered "Guatemala." #thatsnormal?

*Eliot just prayed that Jesus would turn his skin black like Dez. When I asked why he said, "I'll bet Dez will be better than me at camouflaging himself in dark places." #ninjas

*Dez: *whine whine*
Me: What, Dez? I can't understand you, use your words, please.
Eliot stands, put hands on hips: REVEAL THE TRUTH, DEZ!

*When I opened the door to Desmond's room this morning he stood, started clapping and yelled "YAY MOM!!!" It's nice feeling like I accomplished something already today.

*E: Mom, can you get the thermometer down for me?
M: Why do you need the thermometer?
E: I want to stick it up my nose and see what temperature my boogers are.

*With the right hair product and some pipe cleaners I could easily make Dez into an Easter bunny... #toofar?

*It's decided. Dez has agreed to turn 3 on his next birthday and skip this whole 2 business.

*When a 9 year old female dinner guest asked what our rules for meal time were, Eliot responded, "You can't say 'penis' at the dinner table."
#houseofboys #awkwardsilence

*Me: Eliot, your t-ball practice was cancelled because of all the rain!
Eliot: You just don't want me to be happy, do you?

*In other news, I *may* have just yelled, "2Pac IS real music!" at my 6 year old.

*Apparently during an intense game of rock, paper, scissors at school today Eliot played "heart." No one knew what to do. Well played, Eliot, well played. #lovewins #arguewithit

*Out of nowhere at dinner tonight Eliot said, "If a lightening bolt comes down and strikes me in the heart it won't matter because the Holy Spirit will BLAST it away. ...And also? I just held my breath for forty minutes. " ?????

*Eliot's making farting noises and singing "Desmond did it" to the tune of Adele's "Rumor has it." #frathouse

*It's worth noting that Dez uses the same word for Jesus as he does for Cheez-its. #cheezitsarehisidol

*"Boys! We do not run over bananas with bicycles inside the house!" #frathouse

*So far this morning I've overheard Eliot in the other room trying to teach Dez how to say "Happy Mother's Day" and then he asked if we could look at pictures of when he was adopted. It's almost enough to forgive him for waking me up an hour early...

*Awwww! I remember reading birthday texts on my mom's phone when I turned seven! Oh wait...

*No matter how much work, time and stress it takes to plan, time away from home and real life, it will ALWAYS BE WORTH IT to see Eliot fall in love with his birth country a little bit more each year.

*Hey Russ, remember that time we took the kids to the circus and the tornado sirens kept going off? #hysteria #somanykidscrying #adultsoverreacting That was a great Gotcha Day.

*Eliot asked to hear the beginning of his adoption story again this morning (his referral and meeting us the first time). Mid way through the story he says, "Aw man! I wish you guys would've named me Michael Jackson instead of Eliot." #hindsight #parentfail?

*Dear Desmond, in 15 years when you're on some sort of singing competition show and they ask you when you started singing you can answer with, "my mom said that from at least 18 months old I was singing all the time. I would even match tones that I heard including the garbage disposal, tornado sirens, and car horns."

*Eliot: "DEZ! Rule #1 in this house is we DO NOT eat someone else's Cheez-its!" #tough #itis? #seemslegit #frathouse

*Dez seems extra squishy on rainy days.

*Instead of praying over our meal, Eliot asked God for girlfriends for himself and Dez. About five minutes later he interrupted a conversation Russ and I were having by saying, "So...lets talk about body hair." #vacationsover

*Whispering from the other room: "Dez, when people ask who your best friend is, you say 'Eliot.'"

Aaaaaaand to balance it out...

"Mom! I taught Dez a new game! It's called Fetch!"

*Gathering our camping gear Eliot picks something up and says, "Is this for making smoothies?"
Me: "No, that's a lantern." #cementbabies #parentfail

*"Mom, how do you say 'privates' in Spanish?" #frathouse #mycommitmenttoyourbilingualnessonlygoessofar

*"Mom! I almost did it!"

"Almost did what?"

"I was almost able to say 'mom' while burping! I was so close!"

#frathouse #everydayeliot

*Dear Dez,
If you're going to try and sneak around out of your bed during naptime, might I suggest playing with something other than a tambourine.

Love, Mom

*In a conversation about having to get new tires for my car:
E: Aw, Mom, I thought you were getting rims, too.
Me: oh! Rims! Right, um...I didn't even think of it!
E: Well, you should put rims on your Christmas list.

*If you missed it, it was Friendly Elderly Lady day at Schnucks. Including one of them chasing me down an aisle, asking her friend on the other end of the phone to wait so she could tell me that my children were the most beautiful she'd ever seen, including her grandchildren. And she has a lot of grandchildren. So if I ever meet them, keep this conversation to myself.

*Dez sure knows how to clear a pool... #grabthebiohazardbag #dailydez #sorryaboutthat

*Making Eliot review math facts while I'm detangling Dez's fro was not the best start to a Monday morning. #trailoftears

*Note to self: making the last week of summer super fun with Cards games, bike rides, sheet forts, and going to the movies is the opposite of what will excite him about going back to school. Next year make it a week of cleaning baseboards, weeding the backyard and alphabetizing our home library, all while playing the quiet game.
*Eliot just put his Ninja Turtles in "the fiery furnace". #Shadrach,MeshachandMichelangelo

*Perhaps it's a sign I'm being overly affectionate with my sensory child when he immediately begins backing up when I say, "I'm just so proud of you..."

*I'm trying to read about Syria while a guy from Charter is fixing our internet and singing Fall Out Boy to me and explaining why it's his jam. Eliot is "teaching Dez numbers" by making him repeat each one after him starting with 1 with plans to finish at 100. # bangingmyheadagainstthewall #its5:00somewhere

*Just walked into the bathroom and found Dez using an electric toothbrush as a back massager. #resourceful #clever #gladitwasntmine #partyDez

*"Mom? Billy Yean is not my yover." -Dez

*"Boys! The playroom is a disaster! Get in here and clean it up!" -Me
"Nana made dat mess!" -Dez

*Dez just rode his bike helter skelter into the kitchen yelling, "GOD IS COMING, GOD IS COMING!" and hid in the cabinet. I always thought this announcement would come from the Mayan. Consider yourself warned. #apocalypse

*"Dez, I'm so proud of you for going potty the last few days!"

"Tank you, Mommy, I so poud of you for givin me M&M's."

*I don't know why I ever ever ever tell Eliot that we can't leave to go somewhere until Dez wakes up. It yields the same result EVERY TIME.

*(Re: the tornado siren test's creepy talking voice)

Dez: "Mom, dat guy say Dez needs fruit snacks."

*In the middle of a sibling argument unrelated to the following zing:
"Well guess what, Dez?! THOMAS ISNT EVEN A FAST ENGINE! Ha!" #jugular

*Got home from Nashville in time to pick Eliot up from school. Climbing in the car he announced, "I'm so proud of you guys for coming home! I missed you faster than a cheetah mixed with a falcon with cool shoes on!"

* (Dez was meowing while playing in another room)
I looked at Eliot: "We have a cat?"
E: "I never agreed to that." #heskillingme

*It's a middle name kinda night at Mohr Manor.

*"Mom, did you guys adopt Dez so I'd have subjects for my kingdom?" #nottheadoptionquestionIexpected


*"This is how Shaun White's mom must have felt all the time." -as I walk into the boys' room and Eliot's cheering Dez on as he successfully rides his tricycle off his bed. Backwards. #Godblessher #frathouse

*Thank you, Daylight Savings Time, for that extra hour with my kids this morning. They used it to practice their arm-fart noises and fight over which train is the best. So, thank you for that. I hope you don't accidentally "fall back" in front of a moving vehicle.

*Before you congratulate us on our new 5 year old named Jackson, know that Eliot has an active imagination. Or Mayan intuition. Not sure which yet...

*Dear Kale and Spinach, if you want me to keep hiding you in foods my kids eat, I'm going to need you to work on your camouflage skills.

"Mom? Why do we have to eat the banana muffins in the dark?"

"Shhhh, honey, and eat another muffin."

*The good news is that while our children failed to follow any directions this morning they were at least disrespectful about it. #mondayfunday #notreally #morecoffeeplease #morepatienceplease

*Pointing to the CD player in his preschool classroom, Dez asked his teacher, "Listen Ice, Ice Baby? Peez?"

*Ah...that part of my day where the introvert (who's been around people all day) and the extrovert (who's been lonely all day) come together in beautiful harmony. And by harmony I mean fighting.#brothers

*It's not only lost on Eliot that I'm singing Adele lyrics to give him a spelling pre-test, but he's also begging me to stop. *sigh* #wastedtalents #pearlsamongswine

*I know he has some language processing issues but telling E he needed to rewind the tape in the VCR at Nana's really threw him. #oldschool

*This morning Eliot couldn't find one of his gloves which I later found out in front of our house. When I showed him I found it he said, "Thank you, mom! I'll bet Jesus kept an eye on it while God distracted the bad guys who wanted to steal it."

*I'm almost convinced that Dez isn't a real person. Pretty sure he's a cartoon. #thiskid

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The post where I disappoint you? (Foster Care/Adoption Awareness Post)

When a high school student meets with her counselor and announces her desire to become a doctor, the counselor's job is to educate her on what that path entails, to make her aware so as to minimize the surprises. The path to adoption is actually pretty similar: long timeline, expensive costs, tedious paperwork, hard work and sacrifice and not everyone is cut out for it. So, that's what this post is. I'm sitting you down and giving you a chat. Deep breath and an open mind.

Many of you heard sermons a couple weeks ago on Orphan Sunday, you've watched videos of adoptive families, read inspirational articles. You've been moved. Especially those already struggling through infertility or already having talks with your spouse about adding another child to your family. You've felt the tug and adoption could be your answer.

Then you start picturing a child being added to your family through adoption and what that would look like. You picture another car seat, new decorations in a nursery, you even picture the Christmas card you'll send out next year. You have "the talk" with your spouse and he's also on board or at least willing to hear more information. You start getting excited now that the calling has been realized and even confess to a friend, "I have always wanted a black baby".

This is a problem. And I've made it worse by posting pics like these:

My kids? Our stories? They aren't the majority. They were the exception to the rule, especially Dez's adoption. Healthy infants are not the need in the orphan crisis today. When you hear about the "147,000,000 orphans worldwide" it's not referring to rows upon rows of perfectly healthy infants just waiting for a face they can coo at. There are infants who are being placed for adoption but the waiting lines for those babies can be long and the cost is high. (Not counting the private adoptions you hear about where so-n-so's mailman's cousin got pregnant and offered her baby to a family.) You CAN adopt a healthy infant, just be prepared for it to be expensive and the wait to be long. (I really do have the gift of encouragement, I know.) These two elements are not red flags indicating you've misread your calling. They are simply reality.

On one side of the coin we have lists of waiting families. On the other side? Waiting children. And it's not as easy as 1+1=problem solved, unfortunately.

The need is children with special needs, children with medical needs, older children and sibling sets. Those groups comprise the majority of "the orphan crisis." And they need families. But more often than not, that's not what people are signing up for.

I get it. The unknown is SCARY. You've heard stories and seen TV shows about older foster kids. You see a family with a child with special needs and think, "They're amazing, I couldn't do that." And maybe you're right. But maybe you're not. If someone you knew and loved died suddenly in a car crash, leaving their 2 older kids to you, you'd figure it out, right? If you gave birth to a special needs child, you'd learn the ropes. You just would. I know it's not as simple as that, that both of these would be hard, life-changing even. But just because it's something you've never done, doesn't mean it's something you can't do.

These things are not impossible. They are just unknown.

If you're feeling "called" to adoption, I want you to know what you're getting into. I'm okay writing a post that leaves you feeling disappointed and heavy because this is not a decision that should be entered into lightly. There's so many kids coming from hard places, traumatic places, that need homes. We need people that are sober about this decision, people that are willing to get educated about their resources and support. I'm okay bursting your Christmas card bubble to help you get to the real stuff even though I know it's not what you want to hear.

In the name of speaking the truth in love, some of you are simply barking up the wrong tree. Your view is limited. There are treasures whose files come with a little extra paperwork. Files you wouldn't consider because your experience and familiarity is limited. They need families who are radically pursuing and fighting to call them son and daughter. Families that may not yet be equipped but are willing to become equipped.

If you've started the adoption conversations, I'm asking you to broaden those discussions. As always, if you need more input feel free to email me and if I can't offer you wisdom in a specific area, I know people who can.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

But I don't want to adopt! (Foster and Adoption Awareness Month Post)

Listen, people. Especially you christians. Just because it's foster/adoption awareness month DOES NOT MEAN you are called to adopt. It may absolutely not be right for you. Do not take all the articles and memes of sweet faces and bible verses to mean you're supposed to sign right up.

Are some of you supposed to? Yes. And if so, stop avoiding it and at least go to an informational meeting. But this post is not for you. This post is for those who are NOT supposed to adopt or foster.

Here's the thing: even if you're not supposed to be on the front lines, meeting the needs by opening your heart and home, you're still called to orphan care. You're not off the hook just because you don't have a home study. Orphan care is also not reserved for a short term missions trip once a year to an orphanage.

Want some ideas? First think of your giftings. What are your skills? Your resources? Those will be the most effective. I wish I could create an app where you plugged in all your resources and hit "go" and your phone sent you notifications when your skills or resources could be used locally. You'd be shocked how simple it is to help in tremendous ways. Some examples (most of these are practical ideas for people you know. I didn't get into the preventive stuff very much or international orphan care, FYI):

*Are you a photographer? Offer your skills and time to a local agency to see if they need updated pics of children. Offer minisessions to families bringing home new kiddos or to photograph their airport moment.

*Party or event planner? Offer to help an adoptive family with a fundraiser. Those are often outside their skill set and don't make as much money as they could.

*Own a shop or restaurant? Offer to run a fundraiser of your goods/services benefitting someone's adoption.

*Counselor or therapist? Offer your services to agencies who work with questioning birth moms, or children who've experienced trauma (obvs only if you're trained to do so...)

*Are you a handyman? Offer your services to foster homes.

*PT or chiropractor? Offer free adjustments to parents with new placements, carrying around new weight all the time.

*Love shopping? Offer to go shopping for a family with a new placement. For food, for clothes, for furniture, for toilet paper, whatever.

*Have a lawnmower? Offer to cut grass of families from your neighborhood or church who get new placements. Lawn care is the least of their problems when transitioning a new kid in. Or rake their leaves. or weed their garden.

*Mad cooking skills? Make meals for families with new placements. Not a cook? Buy gift cards to take-out places and give those instead.

*Have clothes or babygear your kids have grown out of? Donate to agencies or families adopting or our basement.

*Have lots of space in your basement? Build some shelves and start your own clothing resource. (This thing has taken off! We've given bags of clothes to almost 40 kids since February!)

*Know a family with a new kiddo that already had kids? Offer to take their other kids out for a night of fun. Sometimes the original crew needs a break. (When we had our foster placement, we were so overwhelmed we could barely think straight. My boss took Eliot to Target and out for dinner one night to give him a break. I still get weepy thinking about it, it meant so much to us.)

*Know how to buy gift cards? Families often spend ions of money with each new placement. Some children arrive with absolutely nothing. No one knows how to get the most out of a Target gift card like a foster mom...

*Know where the grocery store is? Offer to shop for the fam or just go buy regular stuff (fruit, snacks, ice cream, papertowels,etc.) and drop it off.

*Have experience with children with special needs? Offer whatever you can to a new mom! My friend Emily offered us a weighted blanket to try with one of our placements.

*Love throwing a party? Offer to host an adoption shower to a family with a new adoptive placement (especially an older child placement)

*Have some extra money? Sponsor a family who's adopting, donate to your church's Abba Fund or adoption fund, give to projects like Village of Hope. Give a family money to pay a sitter for a night out.

*Know a family in process or already have the placement? Offer to babysit. I'm betting they need a night out. If they're not comfortable leaving new kiddos, arrange separate nights out. A girls night for mom (wine bar? chick flick?) and a guys night for dad (sports bar? shooting range?)

*Get certified (super easy process) for respite care and then offer a weekend off to families you know with foster placements.

*Become a CASA volunteer.

*Offer a big brother/big sister type mentoring to a local foster agency for a waiting child.

*Have experience with adoption in the past? Offer to mentor a family starting the process.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list but hopefully it got your brain rolling on something you can offer. If you have any questions, as always, please email. I'm happy to help you brainstorm. Something as small as offering to keep the kids alive so a new mom can take a shower for 15 minutes or dropping off her favorite Starbucks can be just the break they need. Feel free to offer other ideas in the comments section!

Adoption and foster care can be lonely places, for everyone involved. Any way to alleviate the burden and elevate the joy is going to go miles for a family.